Sheriff John D’Agostini’s CCW Position Affirmed By High Court Decision
It is almost four years ago to the day since a pivotal issue at a campaign debate where candidate John D’Agostini sat among a crowded field of cohorts and laid out a position on the requirements for a private citizen obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon that proved to be divisive among the candidates, but widely supported by the pro-gun crowd. This week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a San Diego affirmed the popularly elected Sheriff John D’Agostini’s 4-year-old position when it struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Four years ago the debating panel of Sheriff candidates were divided on what the requirements should be for what is know as a CCW permit. The dividing point was a matter of presumption: the presumption that the citizen prove the need to have versus the presumption that the government prove the citizen should be denied. Most law enforcement officers cringe at the idea of running into a violent situation where both the bad guys and good guys have guns. It is far easier, and safer for everyone, if only the bad guys have guns because rather than attempting to assess who are the bad guys are, they just need to neutralize and secure anyone with a gun. But law enforcement officers are not lawmakers and the Constitution was written to make it difficult for the government to lord over the populous. The Second Amendment is keystone in guaranteeing the people’s ability to overthrow a tyrannical government.
In this struggle to balance the need to provide a safe and effective work environment for law enforcement and the right of the people the bear arms comes the issue of the ability of the ‘people’ to carry a concealed weapon. Some on the panel of sheriff candidates took the position that safety for law enforcement trumped and only those that could prove ‘good cause’ in a most restricted framework should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. But candidate John D’Agostini took a very different position. He articulated that ‘good cause’ was simply someone’s desire to protect themselves and their property. That the proving of ‘good cause’ burden was on law enforcement to demonstrate a valid reason the private citizen should not be allowed their general right to owner and bear arms.
This position was well received by the pro-gun crowd, but it was not ever universally liked. The division remained a contentious issue throughout the campaign and had much to do with the outcome. John D’Agostini won handily against a well run and funded campaign of veteran politicians. But even today the issue is still just under the surface. Often it is seen that the number of CCW permits issued currently is being compared to the numbers issued pre-election of D’Agostini. They are use by pro=gun enthusiast to demonstrate that he is living up to his words on the campaign trail as often as it is used by his detractors with the implications that he is too loose in his approval of CCW permits.
The El Dorado County Sheriff has not been alone in his position and belongs to a group of county Sheriffs that feel that there are often conflicting laws and regulations as more and more layers of government exert regulatory authority over peoples daily activities. Because of this, and other reasons, they have pledged to apply all laws but if conflicts exist, to apply them in hierarchical authority with the Constitution of the United States being the Supreme law. This view, of the Constitution reigning supreme, is what the sheriff candidate used to construct his position on the Second Amendment's relevance to the CCW permits’ difficulty for an average and law abiding citizen to obtain.
The years have rolled by and now the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a San Diego has tossed out restrictive CCW requirements and issued a ruling that supports the interpretation of the El Dorado County Sheriff, John D’Agostini.
By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the majority.
But as if to say that the controversy was not over, Judge Sidney Thomas dissented, writing that the good cause requirement limited the number of people carrying concealed handguns in public to those legitimately in need.
On Thursday, the San Jose Mercury News wrote:
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a surprising ruling, a federal appeals court Thursday declared unconstitutional the restrictions that many California counties have used to sharply limit the right to carry a concealed handgun.
The 2-1 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a San Diego case isn't final because it could still be appealed. But if it stands, "California will join the vast majority of other states that now (freely) issue permits to people for self-defense," said Chuck Michel, attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Association.
That would be a sea change for most Bay Area counties, where sheriffs generally require applicants to show evidence that their safety is at such great risk that it can only be addressed by giving them a permit to carry a gun. But in other parts of the Golden State, it's much easier to get a concealed-carry permit: While sheriffs in urban counties hand out permits by the dozens, sheriffs in less-populated rural continues hand them out by the thousands.
Thursday's ruling, cheered by pro-gun groups and panned by gun-control advocates, means that one day all law-abiding Californians with the right training and a desire for self-defense could have the right to carry concealed handguns.
This will not change how CCWs are handled on the county level because that has been the policy since Sheriff-elect John D’Agostini was sworn in. But this will be contested in places like the Bay Area with its repressive requirements.
It is hard to say if this will play into this year's El Dorado County Sheriff race. Last time around the voters clearly favored D’Agostini’s policies and since the loosening of requirements and resulting increase in permits issued, no claims have been made that there have been a corresponding uptick in related crime.