U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “Undersheriff ensnared in Santa Clara County concealed guns corruption probe,” The Mercury News reported Friday. It was the latest installment in “[a] corruption investigation targeting the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office over a possible pay-to-play racket for concealed-handgun privileges…”
“[Sheriff Laurie] Smith’s office is being investigated over concealed-weapons permits issued by her office, particularly one to an executive security agent who made the biggest single donation to support her re-election bid last fall,” we are told.
For those who have been watching such outrages for years, the response might be “Again?” And why do such abuses always seem to be committed by doctrinaire gun-grabbing “Only Ones”?
Back at the turn of the century, I was raising flags about Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his ridiculously offensive “celebrity reserve program,” which started to lose favor after one of the luminaries allegedly threatened a couple in their car with a laser-sighted gun while in his underpants. A second “Star Cop” was arrested in a money-laundering sting. I’m not making this stuff up.
“Those who’ve given the sheriff gifts or donated to his campaign are disproportionately represented on the roster of permit holders,” LA Weekly reported. “In fact, more than two dozen people who have given gifts or campaign contributions to the sheriff also have gun permits. More than one out of every 10 permits issued to civilians went to people on Baca’s gift list.”
Baca was hardly alone in enjoying the perks of power. While I can’t present a comprehensive list here, I can point to some representative cases that we could file under “You get the picture.”
“Sheriff Warren Rupf of Contra Costa County, California has financed his re-election efforts with selective issuance of both “CCW” (Carry Concealed Weapons) permits and a “quasi law enforcement status” totally illegal and improper in its own right,” activist Jim March wrote in 2002. In his report, he analyzed campaign contribution records, Public Records Act “raw data” on permit holders, and Sheriff’s Posse of Contra Costa County documents.
Prolific in his posts, it would again be impractical to synopsize all of March’s work in this column, but I will highlight another example to set a tone of consistency: This 2007 thread from The High Road gave props to March and linked to a Sacramento Bee story about an FBI investigation “that alleges former Sheriff Lou Blanas issued permits as political favors.”
Case in point:
“Documents filed Friday in the federal civil rights suit say FBI investigators have requested gun permit documents from the department, which include a permit Blanas issued to Sacramento businessman Edwin G. Gerber. Gerber gave $3,500 to Blanas’ election campaign, election records show, and bought a vacation home with Blanas in Reno in the fall of 2005, according to property records. The former sheriff signed Gerber’s gun permit a day before leaving office last summer.”
It’s fair to conclude that “may issue” more likely means “may not,” and that the citizens who do get granted permits are people of influence and means. That’s hardly equal protection.
But there’s one other factor that must not be overlooked in the investigation of not just the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, but of all permits issued by California’s top cops: Discrimination.
That’s something the Second Amendment Foundation warned against years ago:
“California DOJ sponsors bill to mask corruption and racism,” an SAF press release claimed. Charging “a deliberate effort to conceal massive wrongdoing in the handling of Concealed Weapons permit applications across California,” SAF further accused then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer of “violation of the California Public Records Act to mask the local misconduct.”
This is what appears to be missing in current probes of related corruption in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, and may prove to be a way to expose violations of stater and federal equal opportunity laws.
How do the earnings and race/sex demographic rates for permit recipients compare to the general population there and in all counties throughout California? The Democrat-dominated government there makes a great noise of how “progressive” they are, but how does that work in practice for which citizens are “permitted” to bear arms?
It seems more a question for the Feds since the state and the counties have shown a historical propensity for being problematic in such matters. And it would go a long way toward demonstrating for all to see the corruption and tyranny that is inevitable when a group of political elites has a say over the rights of everybody else.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.