Despite what you may remember from the criminally underrated movie Team America: World Police, freedom costs a lot more than a buck-oh-five… least if you live in LaVerne, California. If you’re a gun owner unlucky enough to live in the Los Angeles County community, it’ll actually cost you more than $1,000 in order for you to exercise your right to carry. And as we discuss on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, the small town is one of several jurisdictions in the state that appear to be doing all they can to reduce the number of legally-armed citizens, including making it too expensive to exercise a fundamental right.
A tip of the hat to the Firearms Policy Coalition’s Rob Romano (a must follow on Twitter for Second Amendment supporters) for highlighting the cost-prohibitive fees the city is charging in order for legal gun owners to lawfully carry.
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) February 28, 2023
Over $500 in “administrative” and “processing” fees alone, in addition to paying $150 for a department-approved psychologist to give you the once over and decide whether or not you’re worthy of bearing arms. And as Romano points out, every two years you get to go through the entire process all over again, though the next time around it will “only” cost you $647 to renew your permit.
Shortly after Romano’s tweet, attorney Kostas Moros with Michel & Associates weighed in, and said the city is now on notice.
— Kostas Moros (@MorosKostas) February 28, 2023
The California Rifle & Pistol Association, headed up by Michel & Associates’ Chuck Michel, has had to send out several such letters in the wake of the Bruen decision alerting jurisdictions that their rules are likely to lead to a lawsuit unless they’re modified, though most of the demand letters have revolved around the slow rate of issuing permits, as was the case with a recent missive to Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston. In that case, the sheriff notified CRPA that he’d hired additional staff to speed up the permit processing, but the group has vowed to pursue litigation against any county not living up to Bruen‘s mandate.
Which brings us back to the high cost of freedom in LaVerne. While the Supreme Court made it clear in Bruen that “shall issue” carry regimes are presumptively constitutional, the Court acknowledged that even non-discretionary policies can be abused to the point of infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. From footnote 9 of the Bruen decision:
To be clear, nothing in our analysis should be interpreted to suggest the unconstitutionality of the 43 States’ “shall-issue” licensing regimes, under which “a general desire for self-defense is sufficient to obtain a [permit].”
Because these licensing regimes do not require applicants to show an atypical need for armed self-defense, they do not necessarily prevent “law-abiding, responsible citizens” from exercising their Second Amendment right to public carry.
Rather, it appears that these shall-issue regimes, which often require applicants to undergo a background check or pass a firearms safety course, are designed to ensure only that those bearing arms in the jurisdiction are, in fact, “law-abiding, responsible citizens.” And they likewise appear to contain only “narrow, objective, and definite standards” guiding licensing officials, rather than requiring the “appraisal of facts, the exercise of judgment, and the formation of an opinion,” —features that typify proper-cause standards like New York’s. That said, because any permitting scheme can be put toward abusive ends, we do not rule out constitutional challenges to shall-issue regimes where, for example, lengthy wait times in processing license applications or exorbitant fees deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry.
Having to come up with $1,000 in order to obtain a carry permit will definitely deny some ordinary citizens their right to bear arms in self-defense. About 40% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and thanks to Bidenflation and California’s high cost of living I’m guessing there are plenty of residents in LaVerne who’d struggle to easily come up with a spare four figures to spend on exercising a constitutional right.
I paid $50 for my concealed carry license in Virginia with another $100 or so for my mandated training, and that license is good for five years. In states like Indiana you can get a lifetime carry license for $125 plus the cost of a training class, so I’m struggling to understand why LaVerne PD would have to charge $500 just for the administrative and processing costs of a permit… unless the whole point was to make it unaffordable for residents.
The city’s sky-high fees are so egregious I almost hope they keep them in place so they can be challenged in court, but we have more than enough fights to keep groups like Michel & Associates busy for years to come as it is. Better for everyone if the police department follows Moros’s advice and axes its prohibitive fee schedule. Meanwhile, California’s carry statutes are likely to change this year and that will invite a whole new lawsuit that can take on constitutionally suspect provisions new and old, including that ridiculous mandatory psych evaluation that California currently allows for concealed carry applicants and the abusive fees localities are allowed to charge to all those seeking to exercise a fundamental right.