Pay To Play In California?

California is one of the few remaining “may issue” states. Given yesterday’s refusal by the Supreme Court to consider a number of carry cases, that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

While some counties in California are effectively “shall issue”, the majority are not. That is the case with Santa Clara County which includes cities like San Jose.

This has led to charges of favoritism towards campaign donors to Sheriff Laurie Smith. NBC News Bay Area has done an investigative report on the issue. They found that there were 749 new applications for a carry permit in the 2014-2018 time period. If you were not a donor to the sheriff’s re-election coffers, you had about a 5.5% chance of obtaining a permit. However, if you were one of the 28 people who donated either directly or indirectly, your chances skyrocketed to a 79% approval rate.

While Sheriff Laurie Smith denies any correlation between campaign donations and CCW permits, the issue is still under investigation by the Santa Clara County DA’s office.

Rob, who publishes 2A Updates on Twitter, noted, “Wow hard to believe a permit system where an elected official has unlimited discretion to approve or deny applications would result in political favoritism.”

This generated a response on Twitter to the effect that the Sheriff should just post the going amount to obtain a permit so that people could budget for it.

The system in California and other states where carry permits are “may issue” is ripe for abuse. You have seen cases in New York City where police officials have been arrested on charges of accepting bribes to issue permits.

Sheriff Smith’s campaign donation approach is just a little less obvious than an envelope full of cash – but not by much.

Interesting Chart On Population Density

This chart came to me in an email I get daily from Strategas. I’m not sure how I got on their mailing list but I get daily charts regarding economic issues from them.

They noted in reference to New York City reopening for business:

Population Density Will Cause Trouble for NYC Reopening
Reopening is underway in many areas of the country but New York City may have a more difficult time than other major cities for one reason: population density. NYC has a population density that is more than 1.5x that of the second densest city. With social distancing playing a large role in stopping the spread of the virus, New York City faces many challenges and may take longer to return to normal.

This reinforces my introvert’s desire to have 50 acres with the house smack dab in the center of the property. Oh, and to have a thorn-filled hedge of bramble and other thorny stuff surrounding all 50 acres.

VICE News On Doug Ritter And Knife Rights

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I stumbled across this short video yesterday on Reddit. It is an episode of HBO’s VICE News that features Doug Ritter and Knife Rights. It is surprisingly well done and even more surprisingly pro-knife. VICE News talks about the founding of Knife Rights, their success in many states, and then concentrates on the problems with New York City’s “gravity knife” law.

One aspect that is brought out is that the fight against unjust laws can have unlikely allies. As an attorney with  NYC’s Legal Aid Society put it, he never thought “in a million years that he’d be working with a Second Amendment group on a criminal justice issue.”

Some Good News On Knife Rights In New York

There may be some hope for New York yet. The State Senate just passed the Knife Rights sponsored bill that stops New York City’s switchblade and gravity knife arrests by a vote of 61-0! The State Assembly had previously passed the bill by a vote of 99-12. The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) for his signature.

From Knife Rights:

NY Senate Passes Bill to Stop Bogus NYC Gravity Knife Arrests
Next to Governor Cuomo  



Knife Rights’ Gravity Knife and Switchblade Reform Bill, S6483-A/A9042-A,
passed the New York Senate today on a unanimous vote of 61-0. Knife
Rights’ Director of Legislative affairs, Todd Rathner, has spent many
weeks on the ground in Albany this session working closely with our
friends there to shepherd this bill through politically treacherous
territory. All that extraordinary personal attention has paid off with
this unanimous vote. The Assembly previously passed this bill 99-12. 



However, it is not over yet. S6483-A/A9042-A still needs to be
signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Governor will not officially
receive the bill for his consideration until it is transmitted.
Transmission of the bill could take a few weeks, so please be patient
with the process. When the time is ripe, we’ll ask for your help, but
until then there’s no benefit to contacting the Governor about this
bill.


Knife Rights would like to thank the following people who
played a key role in helping to get this legislation through the
legislature. Assembly Member Dan Quart (D) our primary sponsor in the
Assembly, Senator Diane Savino (D) our primary sponsor in the Senate,
Senator Michael Nozzolio (R) who made passing this bill a priority this
session and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R) whose staff worked
closely with us to get the bill to the floor for a final vote.

Knife Rights would also like to acknowledge the invaluable
assistance and support of The Legal Aid Society of New York, as well as
the many other organizations that supported this bill. We’d also like to
thank all of you who called or emailed Leader Flannigan asking for a
vote on this bill. Your calls and emails make a difference.

S6483-A/A9042-A add clarifying bias-toward closure exclusions
to the state switchblade and gravity knife definitions, similar to that
included in the revision to the Federal Switchblade Act that Knife
Rights helped pass in 2009. This clarifying exclusion should prevent the
bogus Gravity Knife arrests and prosecutions of honest law-abiding
individuals in New York City who are carrying common folding knives,
tools that are legal to carry everywhere else in the U.S.

Neither Gravity Knives nor Switchblades have a bias towards
closure found in common folding knives to keep the blade safely closed
in the pocket. Only in New York City has the NYPD and District Attorney
Cyrus Vance, Jr. abused the states’ gravity knife law to prosecute those
carrying simple pocket knives by claiming they are illegal Gravity
Knives.

The City’s Village Voice newspaper found two years ago that
there had been as many as 60,000 gravity-knife prosecutions over the
past decade! Hundreds of innocent pocket knife carriers are being
arrested every week! You can read the Village Voice article at: http://bit.ly/1MiJbvv

Knife Rights’ Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against New York City and
District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. over these unconstitutional arrests
and prosecutions continues with oral argument scheduled for tomorrow,
June 16, which will be just over five years since the lawsuit was filed.
The trial continues because until, and only if, Governor Cuomo signs
the bill does the case become moot. The public is welcome to attend the
oral argument, click here for more information about attending.

If I Have To Google Your Headliner To See Who She Is….

I got an email tonight from the Brady Campaign with “BREAKING NEWS” that Ingrid Michaelson would be at their New York City gala. You can call me old and out of touch but I had no clue who this was. I figured she was some NYC politician of note. After Googling her I find that she is a indie pop and folk singer. Go figure.

The invite to the event is below:

  Brady’s upcoming gala in New York just keeps getting better!


Join Ingrid Michaelson, Julianna Margulies
and special guests on Thursday, November 19th, as we celebrate the
progress that has been made and the tipping point we’ve reached in gun
violence prevention because of your support. The evening includes a
performance by Ingrid Michaelson, award presentation to Senator Charles E. Schumer and the inaugural presentation of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Leadership Award to the Honorable Hillary Clinton.



You won’t want to miss it!


Limited tickets are available.




Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence


P.S. If you can’t join us in person, please make a contribution in honor of those we’ve lost this year and those who have stood up on behalf of all Americans to create a safer America.

Nothing says elitist more than making your minimum individual ticket price $1,000 per person. If you want to be a Bronze Level sponsor and get a table for 10, be prepared to kick in $15,000.

Hillary should feel right at home when she gets her “Leadership Award” since the riff-raff can’t afford to be there.

Hipsters Discover Project Appleseed

Metro describes itself as a free daily newspaper “written and designed for young and ambitious professionals” which is meant to be read during their morning commute. In other words, yuppies and hipsters living in the big city.

Their New York City edition ran a story on Monday about Project Appleseed. It was part of a series for what they called “Gun Week” which seems to be mostly regurgitated press releases from Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors.

In an article that is relatively fair towards Appleseed but definitely biased against anything either pro-gun or freedom oriented, they start with this description of a recent NYC based event:

In a basement classroom of the Westside Rifle and Pistol range, near the Flatiron Building in New York City, students are being given a lesson in early American History. It has a lot to do with guns.


There are 14 students in the classroom, seven woman and seven men. The students have paid less than the price of an average New York dinner to spend three hours together, to learn how to shoot a small caliber rifle and take a rose-tinted walk through the history of the founding of the United States.


This is Project Appleseed, created by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, dedicated to spreading the art of rifle marksmanship and its place in American history. A mission the group describes on their website as a bulwark against “American ignorance and apathy.” It speaks volumes to the nature of the Apple Seed volunteers that the group doesn’t descend into some thin-veiled, if well-armed, Tea Party propaganda machine.

In an effort to not frighten the hipsters away, they say Project Appleseed is a “middle ground” in the gun debate.

Project Appleseed, and events like it, represents the closest thing to a middle ground in the gun debate that there is in the country right now. It’s a place where the debate can be stripped of some of its caustic rhetoric and returned to something approaching rational conversation as novices learn about the pros and cons of gun ownership.

The photos that accompany the article are of another Project Appleseed event run by Nick Cirillo. Given his name, I wonder if he is some relation to the legendary Jim Cirillo.

Knife Rights’ Lawsuit About Vague Definitions Tossed

Knife Rights and an assortment of individuals are suing Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. and the City of New York over its vague definition of what constitutes gravity and switchblade knives. The case, Knife Rights et al v. Cyrus Vance, Jr., et al, is being tried in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. On Wednesday, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest, a 2011 appointee of President Obama, dismissed the case stating that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had not identified what was legal or not legal in their complaint.

Excuse me, Judge Forrest, but duh! The whole point of the lawsuit was to force New York to define exactly what knives were legal or not legal under their definition. The District Attorney has already agreed that the same make and model of a knife could be found to be both legal or illegal. If that isn’t vague, what is?


Another aspect of this case is that Vance was shaking down knife retailers for money with an efficiency that would make Mafia dons envious. He collected over $2 million from retailers trying to avoid prosecution.

Knife Rights says they plan to appeal this ruling. Their response to the ruling is below.

A U.S. District Court Judge has ruled that persons falsely arrested or threatened with arrest have no standing to sue in Knife Rights’ Federal civil rights lawsuit against New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Although every prior ruling in the case went our way under two previous judges, the case was recently reassigned to Obama appointee Katherine B. Forrest. Litigation always presents the risk that a judge (and especially a judge new to a case) will make an erroneous ruling.

On Wednesday the judge ruled that the plaintiffs in our case – who have been falsely arrested or threatened with arrest over common pocket knives – do not have standing to sue, in part because the case documents don’t identify specific knives that would be illegal under New York City’s interpretation of state law. The trouble is, it’s nearly impossible to identify them under New York City’s haphazard and inconsistent approach – which is the whole point of the case in the first place! Even the DA has admitted that different specimens of the exact same make and model knife could be simultaneously found to be both legal and illegal! Click to read the judge’s ruling.

So here we have a situation where we’re suing because we can’t know with certainty what’s legal or banned, yet the judge is saying we don’t have standing to sue precisely because we haven’t identified what’s legal or banned in our court papers. That’s simply absurd!

But even if the judge were correct – which she is not – she was required by well-established legal principles to allow us a chance to amend our papers to “correct” the supposed “defects.” Instead, she simply ignored these principles and declared the case over.

A similar situation arose in a recent lawsuit involving a U.S. District Judge in neighboring New Jersey. After straining to find supposed “defects” in the complaint that affected standing, the judge refused to allow the complaint to be amended to correct the “defects.” On appeal, the ruling was reversed and the appeals court criticized the judge, saying she had abused her discretion. The same thing could happen here.

But whatever happens, this ruling forces Knife Rights to spend more time and money to appeal the judge’s decision – all while Rome continues to burn. We still receive calls every week from innocent citizens whose lives have been turned upside down simply because they carried a basic tool, a pocket knife, in New York City. Thousands have been arrested on bogus illegal knife charges. In at least one instance of which we are aware, the result of the bogus arrest was that the victim’s entire knife collection was confiscated from his home. Gun owners have had their firearms confiscated based on bogus knife arrests.

We cannot let New York City succeed in its attempt to redefine “gravity knife” to include ordinary folding knives. This could become a model for other cities and jurisdictions across America, resulting in knife owners throughout the country being arrested for doing nothing wrong. We cannot let that happen! And, we will not!

Knife Rights is carefully planning its response to Judge Forrest’s ruling. We will never stop fighting for your rights, and neither should you. Please help us win this critical battle by contributing to Knife Rights Foundation’s Legal Fund today as generously as you can. We’ve led the fight to defend knife rights in the legislative arena and we are pioneering it in the courts. Please help us defend freedom!

We Are Of Different Worlds

I think it is patently obvious that the writers at New York Magazine and I live in different worlds when it comes to guns. Consider this headline on a story about a recent Quinnipiac poll surveying attitudes of New Yorkers towards guns and gun ownership:

There Are Still New Yorkers Who Think It Should Be Easier to Buy a Bunch of Guns

The writer of this story, Joe Coscarelli, is aghast that 26% of the respondents thought you should be able to purchase more than one handgun per month. After saying it has been “a brutal, bullet-riddled summer” in Mayor Bloomberg’s Paradise and noting that 36% of New Yorkers think that gun laws should be either less strict or stay the same, Coscarelli has this to say:

That leaves more than 60 percent saying, you know what, let’s go ahead and make those laws stronger, but a full 26 percent of those polled oppose a proposed bill limiting handgun purchases to just one per month. Because who knows when you are going to need to grab a few at once. Just in case.

We may live in different worlds but the Second Amendment applies everywhere in the United States – even New York City – despite what Mr. Coscarelli and Mayor Bloomberg might think. As far as I’m concerned, there should be no restrictions other than the size of your wallet in how many firearms you possess or purchase.

Plea Deals In NYC

Sebastian has reports on one plea deal and another that may be pending on the recent arrests for possession of firearms in New York City.

First, a plea deal has been struck for the Tea Party leader arrested at LaGuardia Airport when trying to check a firearm. He pled to disorderly conduct and had to forfeit his Glock 27. An updated link to the story can also be found here.

The second involves registered nurse and medical student Meredith Graves. According to what Sebastian is reporting, a plea deal to a similar charge may be in the works.

Read both and push your Senator to support HR 822 which would have, at the least, exempted Meredith Graves from this madness.

UPDATE: Mark Meckler writes about his whole experience here. It makes for some interesting reading.

The Battle On the Second Front Has Opened

As Doug Ritter, chairman of Knife Rights, likes to say, they are the second front in the battle for the Second Amendment. At the 2010 Gun Rights Policy Conference he discussed the plans of his organization to eventually sue the City of New York and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. over NYC’s vague knife laws.

The second front was opened today with a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The attorney of record is David Jensen who some may be familiar with from his work for the Second Amendment Foundation. Below is Knife Rights’ release announcing the lawsuit.

Knife Rights Sues New York City

Knife Rights today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to stop New York City from arresting law-abiding citizens carrying common pocket knives.

The lawsuit challenges New York State law on “gravity knives” and “switchblades,” and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s attempt to mischaracterize the most widely-owned pocket knives in America as contraband. The case seeks a judicial determination that the law is unconstitutionally vague as applied to these ordinary pocket knives.

“District Attorney Vance is trying to advance his political career by exploiting a vague state law to demonize common pocket knives,” said Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter. “In the process, hundreds of law abiding knife owners are being arrested and Vance has extracted nearly $2 million from retailers to avoid prosecution on bogus charges. This lawsuit intends to put a stop to Vance’s abusive and unconscionable civil rights violations.”

“One-hand opening pocket knives are legal tools, used and carried every day by millions of law-abiding citizens for work, recreation and self-defense,” said Ritter. “Shame on D.A. Vance for demonizing common tools and turning honest citizens into criminals for purely political ends.”

If you are a retailer or individual who has been targeted for the sale or possession of so-called illegal knives (one-hand opening and assisted opening knives inappropriately claimed to be gravity knives or switchblades), we urge you to immediately contact Knife Rights at: email nycity@KnifeRights.org or call toll-free: 1-866-889-6268.
Joining Knife Rights as plaintiffs are two private citizens, John Copeland, an internationally acclaimed artist, and Pedro Perez, an artist and fine art dealer, both New York City residents. The defendants are New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., the New York State Attorney General, and the City of New York. Knife Rights is represented by attorney David Jensen. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Knife Rights is supported in this lawsuit by the Knife Rights Foundation Sharper Future Legal Fund™ whose major donors include at Platinum level: Benchmade Knife Co., Blue Ridge Knives, Buck Knives, Columbia River Knife & Tool, Taylor Brands and United Cutlery; Silver level: KnifeWorks.com and Wenger NA; Titanium level: Smokey Mountain Knife Works; Bronze level: Ethan Becker and KA-BAR Knives. Please support those who support your knife rights.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.