A recent event in the Bay Area is a reminder of why California especially needs a shall-issue concealed weapon permit law. If you have ever ridden a subway train, you know the profound sense of unease that comes from it. Unlike a bus, there is no easy way out, even if you were prepared to jump out an emergency exit. You are at the mercy of any crazy person on board.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) is the pride of Big Government sorts in the Bay Area. It cost a truly astonishing amount of money to build (about $10 billion in current dollars), and remains a very expensive system to operate. No surprise: its tunnels pass through several earthquake faults, a minor range of foothills, and underneath San Francisco Bay (that leg not recommended for the claustrophobic). So imagine the reaction when a passenger pulled out two chainsaws and started them running. No, he wasn’t opening a new branch of Home Depot on BART. As the passenger who filmed this moment of Bay Area madness described it: she “knew something was wrong.” Thank you, Captain Obvious! Perhaps when he said, he would “cut your freaking head off,” followed by “I’m the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No, I’m the BART massacre.”
In most of America, concealed weapon permits are either easy to get (shall-issue laws), or no longer even required. In California, at least in the counties where being armed for self-defense might be necessary, such permits are nearly impossible to obtain, unless you have political connections or make large campaign contributions to the sheriff’s election campaign. Orange County Sheriff Carona was so ham-fisted in how he did this that he ended up in prison. Other sheriffs in California are a bit more subtle in operating this pay for licenses scheme. I have talked to a journalist for one of the networks who moved from California to New York City because it was easier to get a concealed handgun license in New York City!
So, why is it so hard to get licenses in the parts of California where you might need to stop someone who mistakes your arm for firewood? Because the Bay Area, like most of the rest of California, is more afraid of law-abiding people with guns than crazy people making threats with chainsaws. Now, I believe we are going to see this fixed in the next several years. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals a few years back, ruled that California’s restrictive and corrupt licensing system violated the Second Amendment. Unfortunately the rest of the judges on the 9th Circuit decided in a slightly unusual procedure called en banc review to verrule this decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal.
As I have previously mentioned, the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh gives us a strongly pro-Second Amendment member of the Court, and likely a pro-gun majority. Either with him alone, or Trump’s replacement for the clearly ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I believe we will see the Court strike down the corrupt issuance laws of California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Maryland. (I am sure that I am missing at least one other state stuck in the last century.) At least I hope so before I next need to ride a train with someone who has mistaken chainsaws for fashion accessories.
Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His ninth book, Lock, Stock, and Barrel was published earlier this year. Click Here to buy a copy on Amazon.