LOS ANGELES (May 24, 2019) — Today, plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed last fall announced that Senior United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson entered an order permanently enjoining Riverside County, California from having a policy and practice of preventing legal U.S. residents from exercising their right to apply for a carry license in Van Nieuwenhuyzen, et al. v. Riverside, CA Sheriff Stanley Sniff, et al. A copy of the court filings can be viewed at www.firearmspolicy.org/legal.
The order states that “this Judgment for a Permanent Injunction shall be entered as to and against the defendants in this action, who are now and hereby enjoined from enforcing, and continuing to enforce, implement or abide by any policy regarding the issuance of permits to carry concealed weapons (CCWs) to the extent that such policy prohibits non-U.S. citizens who are otherwise qualified, lawful permanent residents of the County of Riverside, and who are not otherwise prohibited from owning firearms, from applying or obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon under state law, Cal. Pen. Code § 26150, et seq.”
The challenged policy was carried out under former Sheriff Stanley Sniff, who lost to current Sheriff Chad Bianco in the last election. Sheriff Bianco campaigned on a promise to promote access to concealed carry licenses and reform earlier policies. “This coalition victory is important because it not only helps to restore access to the fundamental right to bear arms, it also sends a crystal-clear message to carry licensing authorities that the rights of the people can and will be enforced in our courts,” commented FPC President Brandon Combs.
The case was brought by a coalition of constitutional rights advocacy groups including Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, The Calguns Foundation, Madison Society Foundation, and Riverside County resident Arie van Nieuwenhuyzen, a permanent resident alien who has lived in Riverside since 1983 and is a business owner there.
“We’re delighted with the outcome of this case,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “This isn’t our first experience with such a policy, and we’re happy to have had good partners in this challenge. Mr. Van Nieuwenhuyzen has been a productive, law-abiding member of his community for decades, and there is no good reason to discourage or deny someone of his background and standing the ability to apply for a carry license.”
The plaintiffs were represented by attorney George M. Lee of San Francisco litigation firm Seiler Epstein LLP. “This case was about eliminating discriminatory and unconstitutional policies and practices,” said Lee. “The Defendants’ policies and practices violated the Constitution, and thus, we were compelled to take action.”
“The Second Amendment means that people have a fundamental, individual right to carry loaded firearms outside their homes for lawful purposes, and the Fourteenth Amendment ensures that those human rights are protected not just for those individuals the government favors, but for all people legally residing in our nation,” explained Lee. “We are delighted with the outcome in this case and look forward to restoring civil rights in future cases.”
Anyone who is prevented from applying for a carry license or who has been denied a carry license because they are not a U.S. citizen, no matter where they live, should contact the FPC/FPF Legal Action Hotline at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline or (855) 252-4510 (available 24/7/365) as soon as possible.
During the campaign, Bianco, then a sheriff’s lieutenant, said anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon – and who isn’t barred by legal or mental health concerns – should be allowed to do so.
In an emailed statement, Bianco said: “As promised, I have directed our (concealed weapon) policies to reflect the current law and offer qualified applicants the opportunity to obtain a permit in an expeditious and non-political manner.”
2014 Posting by Calguns Foundation
The Calguns Foundation (CGF) and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees(CAL-FFL) have announced the kickoff of their ‘#FixRiverside’ initiative, which aims to compel the sheriff to begin issuing handgun carry permits to all residents who apply for one and pass a background check.
Currently, the sheriff only issues “CCW” licenses to those who demonstrate a “heightened” good cause, with “[c]onvincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, his/her spouse, or dependent child, which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources.”
Help us #FixRiverside
In a June 11 2014 letter penned by Temecula-based gun rights lawyer Jason Davis, Sheriff Sniff was put on notice that his handgun carry license “policy and practices, both written and as-applied, appear to be the same…as the one struck down” recently by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He went on to demand numerous public records from the sheriff’s department, including 15 different categories of documents and “good cause statements,” in order to “research and evaluate [the sheriff’s] policies and practices relating to applications and licenses to carry handguns under Cal. Penal Code § 26150, et seq. for statutory and Constitutional compliance.”