Los Angeles Country Sheriff Lee Baca said he is willing to support a “sensible” plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants provided they’ve been in the country for several years without breaking any other laws.
Baca’s comments followed Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck’s own statement – issued the day prior – that expressed the need for such a plan, saying that it “would reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents and uninsured drivers on city roads.”
Baca told the LA Times that such licenses should only be issued after illegal immigrants fill out comprehensive applications, similar to those for citizenship. The licenses, he continued, should be up for renewal annually and be noticeably different from those issued to citizens.
“There’s enough potential for Chief Beck’s idea for it to be explored,” Baca said.
News of this story had pro-gun advocates shaking their heads, especially those of us who live under LA County’s draconian gun laws (myself included).
Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Alan Gottlieb, pointed out the inherent hypocrisy of Sheriff Baca and Chief Beck’s position.
“This is simply appalling,” Gottlieb said in a CCRKBA press release. “Baca is less interested in the personal safety of California citizens than he is in the personal convenience of illegal aliens who shouldn’t even be in this country. No wonder that Baca and his department have been sued over the concealed carry permit issue.”
The press release went on to point out the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s own policy on the issuance of CCWs: “The Department’s overriding policy is that no concealed weapons license should be granted merely for the personal convenience of the applicant.”
“On the one hand,” Gottlieb observed, “Sheriff Baca wants to make life easier for people in this country illegally, but on the other hand, he makes life more difficult, and perhaps even dangerous, for citizens who were born here, or have become naturalized through legal channels. What does this policy say to law-abiding legal immigrants who have jumped through all the hoops, become good members of the community, and who may operate small businesses and worry about being robbed?”
As Guns.com has pointed out in the past, getting a concealed carry permit in LA County or in the city of Los Angeles is virtually impossible for the average citizen.
To give one an example of how bad it is, the city of Los Angeles has approximately 4 million citizens, with some 300 CCW applications being made each year, LAPD has only granted 24 active CCWs, according to a report in Ammoland.
“What does this say to native Californians, or citizens who moved to the Golden State from some other part of the country,” Gottlieb continued. “What Baca’s policy says is that your rights as citizens take a back seat to the comfort and convenience of people in this country illegally. That’s worse than being treated like second-class citizens. For Baca, your citizenship and your civil rights apparently don’t matter at all.”
“Baca’s first responsibility should be to the citizens who pay his salary,” Gottlieb said, “and that includes citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for personal protection. If Sheriff Baca can’t tell the difference, then perhaps he should leave public service and find another career.”
To put this all in context, California (along with New York) is one of the few states that is moving in the opposite direction when it comes to expanding the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
By and large, most states have been expanding self-defense rights and concealed carry rights for responsible citizens. On the whole, violent crime is down across the country; meanwhile gun ownership is on the rise. It’s becoming common knowledge that more guns does not equate to more crime.
Nevertheless, lawmakers in California have continued to argue for tougher gun laws that infringe upon a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. One will recall, late last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that banned the open carry of an unloaded firearm.