From the order, which is available as a pdf. doc
Attorneys Present for Defendants:
In California, a person may carry a concealed firearm only if first issued a license by the
sheriff of the county in which the licensee resides. Such licenses are to be issued only upon a
showing of “good cause.” Cal. Penal Code § 12050. Plaintiff Jonathan Birdt applied for a concealed
carry weapons (“CCW”) license from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles
County Sheriff’s Department. Each denied his application; this action followed.
Plaintiff has named the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), the Los Angeles County
Sherriff’s Department (“LACSD”), Los Angeles Chief of Police Charlie Beck, and Los Angeles County
Sherriff Lee Baca as defendants in his claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988.
Relying on District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130
S. Ct. 3020 (2010), Plaintiff argues that, as applied to Plaintiff, the LAPD and LACSD policies under
which his CCW license application was denied, violate the Second Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Plaintiff also claims that LAPD and LACSD policies violate his rights under the Equal
Protection Clause and interfere with his right to interstate travel.
Plaintiff and Defendants have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The parties
stipulated at oral argument on September 19, 2011 that there are no disputed issues of material fact.
California’s Concealed Weapons Law
California Penal Code section 12031 prohibits the open carrying of loaded firearms in public,
and section 12025 prohibits the carrying of concealed firearms in public, subject to a licensing
process. Section 12050(a)(1)(A) allows “[t]he sheriff of a county, upon proof that the person applying
is of good moral character, that good cause exists for the issuance, and that the person applying
satisfies” other statutory requirements, to “issue to that person a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or
other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.” Without a license, a person cannot carry
a concealed weapon. “Section 12050 gives extremely broad discretion to the sheriff concerning the
issuance of concealed weapons licenses and explicitly grants discretion to the issuing officer to issue
or not issue a license to applicants meeting the minimum statutory requirements.” Gifford v. City of
Los Angeles, 88 Cal. App. 4th 801, 805 (2001).
The LAPD and the LACSD each has formulated definitions of “good cause” to evaluate
The LAPD defines “good cause” in these terms:
[G]ood cause exists if there is convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to
life or of great bodily injury to the applicant, his (or her) spouse, or dependent child,
which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources, and
which danger cannot be reasonably avoided by alternative measures, and which
danger would be significantly mitigated by the applicant’s carrying of a concealed
firearm . . .
Good cause is deemed to exist, and a license will issue in the absence of strong
countervailing factors, upon a showing of any of the following circumstances:
(a) The applicant is able to establish that there is an immediate or continuing threat,
express or implied, to the applicant’s, or the applicant’s family, safety and that no
other reasonable means exist which would suffice to neutralize the threat.
Tompkins Decl., Exh. 1, Dkt. 56-4. The LAPD does not consider general fear for one’s personal
safety good cause. Id. at ¶ 4.
The LACSD’s definition of “good cause” requires the following showing:
Convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life or of great bodily harm to
the applicant, his spouse or dependent child, which cannot be adequately dealt with
by existing law enforcement resources and which danger cannot be reasonably
avoided by alternative measures, and which danger would be significantly mitigated
by the applicant's carrying of a concealed firearm.
Waldie Decl., Exh. 1, Dkt. 55. The LACSD does not consider a general desire for self-defense good
cause; the applicant must “demonstrate a credible threat of violence.” Waldie Decl. ¶ 7, Dkt. 55.