The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, exercising its First Amendment right of free speech and the press, has attacked the notion that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies across state borders, and calls the idea of state concealed carry reciprocity “absurd and dangerous.”
In a 716-word slap at concealed carry, the National Rifle Association, Donald Trump and an estimated 15 million armed private citizens, the editorial board said the 2008 Heller decision was “wrongly decided.” Gun rights activists can sleep better knowing that the LA Times editorial board is not the final arbiter of civil rights and that the Supreme Court is.
Trump has mentioned support for concealed carry reciprocity, and it was among 11 gun reforms suggested by gun rights leader Alan Gottlieb and this writer in an Op-ed piece that has appeared in some newspapers. The NRA energized gun owners to help elect Trump and maintain Republican control of Capitol Hill, and now Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, has offered a formula to “make the Second Amendment great again.”
The newspaper correctly argues that state-issued concealed carry licenses and permits are not the same as a driver’s license. Driving is a privilege. Keeping and bearing arms is a constitutionally-protected fundamental civil right.
But the newspaper seems proud of the fact that in all of California, only 79,834 active concealed carry permits are in circulation. Contrast that to Washington, where many former Californians have relocated – Evergreen State natives call this “Californication” – and has a right-to-bear arms provision in its state constitution. Washington, according to the state Department of Licensing, now has 566,685 active concealed pistol licenses.
Or look at neighboring Arizona, where more Californians have migrated in recent years. The state Department of Public Safety reported earlier this week that there are now 296,228 active concealed weapons permits. Arizona has “constitutional carry” where no permit is required. One might say California has that, too, but only for criminals.
While the newspaper laments about Utah carry permits requiring the applicant to be 21 years old, not deemed ineligible to own firearms under federal laws and the completion of a certified “weapons familiarity” course, it needs to answer some questions. The newspaper boasts that California “has a more stringent training regimen and requires a person seeking a permit to show good-cause for needing to carry a concealed weapon.”
What other civil right requires this degree of scrutiny in order for citizens to exercise it? What other civil right requires fingerprinting and a background check, and periodic renewal and government permission? How would the Times editorial board react if the government suddenly decided that newspapers must submit its editorials for approval and proof of “good cause” prior to publishing?
Gun prohibitionists, and anti-gun editorial boards, will argue that this is about guns.
No, it’s about civil rights.