The Los Angeles Police Department has moved to cancel most of the few remaining concealed weapons permits in civilian hands, according to new filings in a decades-old legal case.
Chief Michel Moore said in a sworn declaration he did not believe a group of people who obtained so-called CCWs as the result of a 1994 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.
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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 long-standing practice of simply denying every applicant.
The City settled and promised in 1995 the LAPD would issue permits to the 30 plaintiffs, according to court records.
"The City should keep its word," said attorney Burt Jacobson, a former federal prosecutor and one of the plaintiffs in the case. "They wanted a settlement, and they wrote the settlement!” Jacobson said he’s faced recent threats as a result of court cases that ended many years ago.
The City and Moore have asked a judge to vacate, or undo, the settlement, arguing that the document the City agreed to decades ago is 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.
"If they [the City] prevail, and permits are denied to the people who really, really need them, there is a danger not just to the applicant but to the general public,” explained attorney David Pourshalimi, who also represents the permit-holders. “Reneging on this deal, that creates a hazard to the public.”
The LA City Attorney’s Office filed the request but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chief 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.
A hearing is set for Friday.