California Assembly Bill 1044 is part of a deliberate effort to conceal massive wrongdoing in the handling of Concealed Weapons (CCW) permit applications across California, including wrongful actions on the part of state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) said today.

“SAF has received complaints from our members in California for years that the gun permit issuance system is being handled improperly,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “The key to proving it has always rested with timely access to public records held by local agencies. We have now learned that AG Lockyer has taken specific steps in violation of the California Public Records Act to mask the local misconduct. Instead of correcting the problem, he is trying to have his past misconduct declared legal by the current legislature.

“While painting AB1044 as a ‘cost savings measure’,” Gottlieb continued, “Lockyer also drafted it to eliminate the records of CCW denial both at the California DOJ headquarters and at each local agency. These records have already been declared public by the California Supreme Court (CBS vs. Block, 230 Cal.Rptr. 362) for the specific purpose of examining equal protection issues in the handling of CCW applications. We will take any necessary court action to prevent the destruction of these records should this bill pass.”

In 1999, Lockyer was tasked with creating a new state-standard CCW application form to replace those forms created and used by local agencies. Significant changes to the application form could only be made under existing protocols, which required publishing the proposed regulation, accepting and responding to public comments, and publishing the finished regulation and its number with the Office of Administrative Law.

“Instead,” Gottlieb said, “in early 1999, Lockyer created a commission within the California DOJ to create the forms, with advice from five sheriffs and police chiefs. They met in secret, stamped all of their documents ‘confidential,’ and in mid-1999 released a CCW application form on which applicants no longer provided their ‘good cause for issuance,’ age, occupation or similar details. Instead, these were to be dictated onto the form by the applicant in an interview with a peace officer from the local department. They labeled this section of the form ‘police investigator’s notes,’ knowing that such notes aren’t public under the state Public Records Act.”

“Had they taken the required public comments for a change this drastic,” Gottlieb noted, “someone could have pointed out that the ‘good cause data’ was declared public by the Supreme Court in 1986, for the specific purpose of evaluating equal protection claims. Lockyer apparently believes he can overturn a state Supreme Court decision with an illegal, secret regulation and then quietly get the legislature’s approval after the fact once caught red handed.”

AB1044 has provisions to destroy records at the central California DOJ headquarters that they claim are “superfluous,” but that doesn’t explain why they want to destroy records of denials at the local agency level or why they want the legislature to whitewash illegality on Lockyer’s part dating back to 1999.

“While the Second Amendment Foundation does not get involved in legislative affairs, the actions taken to date and the attempted destruction of records crucial to making equal protection claims in both Federal and State courts requires us to speak out,” Gottlieb said. “The simple fact that Lockyer and his cronies would try and quietly pass a bill this underhanded speaks volumes for the necessity of further court review of the California gun control program and we will pursue that review as necessary.”

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