Friday, May 20, 2016

- Carry Permits And Corruption

“May issue” as opposed to “shall issue” is the legal doctrine used by some states in order to impose procedural bans on 'concealed carry permits' and the American citizens’ right to protect themselves. That’s the best I can do to get the pro-gun position into a single sentence. The Anti-gun position is somewhat less reducible.

The main problem is that the stated goals of liberals move around so much. There’s always a bunch of moral sounding nonsense about preventing violence and death, but the proposals they make never pass any sort of rational analytic muster. Unless you’re prepared to make every decision with your heart instead of your head, which Americans are notoriously uninclined to do when it comes to guns, they fall flat.

The right to defend yourself from those who would do you harm is not just enshrined as the law of the land in our country, but even more, it’s recognized by virtually everyone as a high risk decision. And because that’s so, people tend to see getting a ‘correct answer’ to the question as being far more important than how frightened they are of guns.

So “May Issue” is dying a slow but steady death. Last week it was struck down in DC as a valid reason for preventing someone from obtaining a concealed carry permit, and there is considerable political pressure being brought to bear on the few remaining holdouts. Even Charlie Cooke at National Review has finally decided that NJ’s abuse of this process could use a little tuning.

Charlie has always been an adamantly pro-gun guy, but has always been more interested in a logical legal framework for such a change than the kind of ‘any means available’ position of someone like me. This is a fair and reasonable critique, especially for someone like Charlie who isn’t as intimately familiar with how NJ bureaucrats have abused the existing process as I am. To me the law already looked broken, and at that point my view is that you aren’t going to break it any worse by something like a Federal law for concealed carry reciprocity.

But for the record, I agree with Charlie and think a Federal CCR would be a bad law, albeit with a good result. I don’t like it when the Federal government bullies the states into one size fit’s all solutions, and the fact that I’ve lived in two local communities (NJ and NYC) who all seem to have some sort of mental illness with regard to self-defense doesn’t change that. But knowing what I do about the process in NJ, and the degree to which it’s actually designed for the kind of abuse we’re seeing, has always put me in the position that Charlie has only now just come to.

I don’t mention this much, but I’m related by marriage to a NJ superior court judge who denies carry permits as a matter of course. He’s no anti-gun liberal, quite the contrary. He’s a gun owner, and a right leaning judge who lives in a strongly Republican district (yes, remarkably NJ has a few... remember, both Scalia and Alito are from NJ). I cornered him at a family event once and asked him to help me skirt the ‘procedural ban’ on CC that NJ imposes. He told me it couldn’t be done under any circumstances.

He said that unless I could provide strong ‘officially documented evidence’ of an imminent threat (meaning a police report or something) then he was powerless. He said that the treatment the ‘may issue’ rule receives was specifically designed to ban all concealed carry, and that they only allow it in the most egregious conditions to limit the liability of lawsuits when someone gets killed. He said he knew for certain that I was not a risk, and even agreed that if someone like me with experience and training had a carry permit, the world would be safer not at greater risk. But he said that if he broke the precedent of denial, his career would suffer irreparable damage. And when it came out that we were related by marriage, his career would almost certainly be over.

This is all actually far worse than it sounds. NJ is a very corrupt state. In some respects it’s built on corruption. Without that corruption, the sclerotic bureaucracy would be so obstructionist that virtually nothing would ever get done. Locally the residents have a kind of blasé attitude about it. “It’s NJ… of course there is corruption” they say. And virtually every longtime resident knows someone somewhere who can get them into or out of something that they want. The corruption is seen merely as a way to keep the gears greased and to keep all the power in the hands of a few. But it’s so widespread and so many of the citizens are so well connected, that it isn’t really seen as that big a deal. But here I was, talking to a family member with exactly the juice I needed, and he made it clear that this was an un-greasable wheel.

So when it comes to CC, the NJ system is not only broken, but it’s even broken for NJ. And in a situation like that, I’m prepared to seek any remedy that won’t land me in jail with a 2 year minimum sentence. A Federal CCR law seems to me to be the least bad option in this case. If there were any chance that those in power in NJ would begin to take a rational view of gun ownership on their own, I’d feel differently. But I just don’t see it happening.

In NYC where I now live, it’s a similar set of rules, and a similar set of corruptions, with the line drawn just a little differently. In NYC, the ‘may issue’ clause is used to keep guns out of the hands of the ‘little people’. If you’re rich enough or famous enough, they’ll be happy to rethink things. The metric I’ve always heard used was something like 60K in ‘contributions’ to the right political organization who supports the right city councilman, and you will get an exemption. I’m willing to overpay for a CC permit, but if they want that kind of money, they’ll have to speak to my ex-wife who's had a windfall recently in family court.

But the good news is, “may issue” continues to decline and be replaced with ‘shall issue’ where the state must be compelled to provide a valid reason for denial, instead of the permit applicant providing a valid reason for approval. This I think will inevitably be very good news for those responsible citizens of NY and NJ. And I hope I live long enough to see it.

And the well intended pols and bureaucrats in those states would probably do well to remember that in a time of crisis, it isn't really a debate whether guns will be owned or carried, concealed or otherwise. The only question is whether it will occur legally or not.

4 comments:

Muzzlethemuz said...

Great graphic. Doesn't lend itself to understanding the general consensus coming out of the media/urban onslaught that seems to favor the liberal narrative. The federal CCR law idea is akin to the LEOSA Act I've written about on several occasions and from which I have personally benefited. Passage of that act is what it's taken to get off-duty LEO's and retirees to stop getting jammed up outside their jurisdictions/conditions of permit/credential. I will likely be getting involved sometime this year in a FLEOA effort to amend LEOSA yet again to allow for carriage of "hi-cap" magazines in jurisdictions that have banned those to LEOSA carriers. Obviously pol/bureaucrat resistance to anyone other than their own personal security detail possessing concealed weapons is directly proportional to their desire to prohibit any check on their power. The armed citizen is an impediment to autocracy. As an aside, when I was working it was my observation that premier shooters in the industry were generally private citizens in the competition circuit, private courses i.e. Gunsight and the SOF community (military). I won't include a cite here b/c it's too late to dig it up but anecdotally you can Google police statistics and police shoots are often a mess. Recollection indicates that the majority of police killed with a firearm are killed with their own weapon. Police shoots are often sporadic and lack accuracy and an inability to control their sectors of fire http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/25/justice/new-york-empire-state-shooting/. There was something akin to this in northern California last year. The point being that with some agencies qualifying their officers only twice a year and calling that "sufficient," the responsible citizen has every right to protect themselves. What's worse than an active shooter? Quite possibly the subsequent response by an undertrained and overly-armed PD that shows up to "protect" you. We're a lot better off than we were in Columbine days but politicos claiming that we don't need guns, that's what the police are for, it's laughable.

TheRob625 said...

Tom,

As an ardent gun enthusiast, I agree with you that federal concealed carry reciprocity would be a bad idea. What the federal government giveth, the federal government can taketh away. Federalizing gun law would also open the door to horrors like the nationwide registration of all guns and licensing of their owners.

I don't even think it would give you what you want which, I am assuming, is to be able to legally carry concealed in the People's Republic of New Jersey. (And I sympathize with your plight. For several years I worked in Trenton but, very aware on NJ's gun laws, lived over the state line in Pennsylvania.) Federal law, specifically the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986, supposedly allows a person to transport a gun through a state, provided he does not stop there at any time, even though it may be against state law. In practice though, the police in some states don't recognize the act. I've heard it said that no-one should transport a gun into NJ or Massachusetts, unless he wants to become a test case. So I find it hard to believe that the police in those places would recognize out-of-state carry permits, either.

Perhaps a better option would be to challenge the current laws in NJ. Illinois used to be a no-carry state. Then, in 2012, a federal court ruled this prohibition unconstitutional and ordered the Illinois state legislature to change the law. It also added a deadline for the change to become effective which, if unmet, would have turned the state overnight from no carry to constitutional carry.

Surely something similar could be done in NJ? In theory the state is may issue but, from the way you describe it, in practice it is no issue which, as Illinois found out, is unconstitutional. Any challenge would also be pushing at an already-open door because, as you pointed-out, elsewhere in the country, may issue is slowly, but surely, giving way to shall issue.

Tom said...

Actually what I'm imagining is that in the face of a Federal CCR law NY will instead begin to allow CC but with massive expense and training requirements (as compared to other states). All of which I'll happily submit to. But without a Federal law there is NOTHING that will compel either location to allow it, because the politics of it is irrelevant.

People have been suing NJ for years to allow CC but because the judges here are under the same thumb as everyone else, the 'merits of the case' have always been found lacking.

Tom said...

Muzz,
My favorite 'police shooting' story is from a few years ago. Crazy homeless guy with a knife or something screaming at the tourists outside the empire state building. Cops show up, make a decisions to shoot, and the way I remember it, they fired a dozen or so shots missing the perp entirely, and hitting three of the tourists. (no deaths) the perp was eventually subdued through other means.

There were a few urban policemen who were members of my gun club, and I was friendly with a few of the more frequent shooters. Most were about average, a few were quite good, and a few were absolutely awful. Same as everyone else.