While virtually all of the “gun-free zones” challenged by Second Amendment groups as part of their litigation against California’s SB 2 have now been placed on hold thanks to an injunction issued by a federal judge, there are still a few “sensitive places” that weren’t a part of those initial challenges where guns are still prohibited. Among them are government buildings, but supervisors in Shasta County, California voted this week to, in essence, ignore state law and allow concealed carry holders to exercise their right to bear arms in those locations… at least if they’re not employed by the county and on the clock.
A resolution allowing concealed carry in buildings owned or controlled by the local government was approved by Shasta County supervisors on a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, though it was the subject of repeated objections from several gun control fans.
Supervisor Mary Rickert, who voted against the resolution, said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was heated debate over masks, vaccine requirements and other mandates, a former Shasta County employee who had a concealed carry permit emailed her a death threat.
Rickert said she met with a crisis intervention team and that she was given photos of the man and his vehicle.
“To this day, I keep my eyes open for him,” Rickert said.
“You can’t convince me [that] because someone has a concealed weapons permit that they are totally harmless.”
Jenny O’Connell, a resident, said she worried about a repeat of the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, when a county employee and his wife opened fire on a holiday party for his colleagues, killing 14 people.
“Just look at the volatile environment within these chambers,” O’Connell told the supervisors before their vote. “Look at this! Do you want want one of these people to come in and shoot you all? Look at how pissed everyone is!”
The attack in San Bernardino took place in a gun-free zone, so whether she realizes it or not, O’Connell is actually making an argument in favor of the policy adopted by the Shasta County supervisors. The fact that guns were banned in the county-owned building didn’t stop two terrorists from carrying out their attack. If anything, it emboldened them to do so in a target-rich environment where they didn’t have to worry about an immediate armed response.
As volatile an environment as a county supervisor’s meeting might be, prohibiting firearms from the premises isn’t going to stop someone with evil intentions from violating that “gun-free zone.” All it will do is ensure that people don’t have the means to fight back, even if they have the will.
I’m curious to see if any other jurisdictions follow Shasta County’s lead here, or if they’ll go it alone in their act of civic disobedience. Supervisor Patrick Jones, the gun store owner who authored the resolution, says he wants to revisit the issue in the near future to specifically allow county employees to carry as well, though a representative from the local public workers union says that would be subject to negotiation. For now, however, it looks like Shasta County residents can now carry in their county-owned government buildings despite the state law that says otherwise. I suppose the California Highway Patrol could come in and start enforcing the gun-free zones, but that seems like an unlikely possibility as well as a complete waste of time and law enforcement resources.
If Jones and his fellow supervisors really want to thumb their nose at anti-gun lawmakers and Attorney General Rob Bonta this is a good start, but I’d go even further and adopt a resolution stating that the Shasta County sheriff shall continue to issue concealed carry licenses under the “shall issue” rules that were in place before SB 2 took effect, including allowing NRA-certified firearms instructors to teach the mandated training course. That would almost certainly draw a legal challenge from Bonta, but it would also be a boon, at least in the short term, to those residents who are currently stuck in limbo thanks to the AG’s revised rules that have resulted in an almost complete freeze on concealed carry classes around the state.