Los Angeles

Judge Declines to Cancel Los Angeles Gun Permits

A judge in Los Angeles has declined a request from LAPD Chief Michel Moore to cancel a decades-old agreement that granted concealed weapons permits to a handful of citizens.

The decision means those citizens will continue to be issued permits to carry guns, at least temporarily.

The judge's ruling has not been finalized, but the city and the plaintiffs' attorneys confirmed the decision.

"When we receive it, we will review it and consider our options," a spokesperson for the City Attorney's office said Wednesday.

Only a few so-called "CCW" permits remain in private hands in the city of LA, and the permit holders were notified in recent months the city intended to cancel them, even though the city had agreed to issue and renew the permits in order to settle a lawsuit in 1994.

Chief Michel Moore said in a sworn declaration filed last month he did not believe the plaintiffs in that lawsuit were still entitled to the permits, because it was unlikely the individuals still faced extraordinary physical danger to their lives.

"I do not believe the continued wholesale allowance for each to possess a CCW license based on circumstances that may have existed 24 years ago is in the best interest of the public," Moore said.

Permits to carry a concealed firearm are allowed under California law but it's up to local police chiefs and sheriffs to decide if an applicant has a valid reason to obtain one.

The plaintiffs in the 1994 case, called Assenza, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., sued because the LAPD had a prior, long-standing practice of simply denying every applicant.

The city settled the case and promised in 1995 the LAPD would issue permits to the 30 plaintiffs, according to court records. The city and Moore asked the judge to vacate, or undo, that settlement, arguing that it was now restricting Moore's ability to exercise his discretion in deciding who is entitled to a CCW license.

Additionally, Moore said the crime rate is down and there are more police officers on the streets, so the level of danger to an average person has been reduced.

"Technology has improved tremendously in the last 24 years which has enabled individuals to instantly communicate with law enforcement via cellphones from anywhere and at any time should they feel threatened," Moore said.

The plaintiffs' attorneys said the permit holders were individuals who, because of extraordinary life circumstances, could be in peril with no other reasonable means of self-defense. They said state law allows the permits for that exact reason.

Moore has issued at least two other CCW permits, according to his declaration. They were given to brothers who operate a law enforcement weapons business and routinely transport machine guns and other firearms unavailable to the general public.

Moore said he placed restrictions on those permits so the men would not be allowed to carry a gun for protection unless they were transporting weapons.

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