Santa Clara County in California has had better times, I’m sure. In addition to an ongoing pandemic, they now have a bit of a scandal going on.
In particular, the scandal revolves around alleged bribes for gun permits.
We’ve seen this before, of course. It happened in New York City, for example. Now, though, it’s a Bay-area county in California.
At least one potential suspect, however, is no longer facing charges.
In another blow to the case built on a landmark Santa Clara County concealed-gun permit corruption indictment, California prosecutors dropped charges Monday against a political fundraiser who had been accused of bribery and participation in a criminal conspiracy.
A prosecutor for the state Attorney General’s office told a Superior Court judge Monday morning he didn’t believe there was enough evidence to successfully prosecute Christopher Schumb, who was accused of helping broker a pay-to-play scheme that curried donations from people hoping to be issued concealed-carry permits from the sheriff’s office.
Schumb’s attorney reiterated the same sentiment he has voiced since his client was indicted last summer.
“It is the right result,” attorney Joe Wall said in a statement Monday to this news organization. “Chris is innocent and the case never should have been filed against him in the first place.”
Even so, the county district attorney’s office suggested the case against Schumb might not be finished.
“We are ready to try the remaining defendants. Once that trial concludes, the AG has the right to refile charges against Mr. Schumb,” the office said in a statement.
However, it should be noted that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will be holding a no-confidence vote regarding the sheriff at some point today.
The thing is, this can only happen in a “may issue” permitting scheme like California’s.
See, if it’s “Shall Issue,” no one has the authority to arbitrarily grant or deny permits. You’re either clean enough to get a permit or you’re not. There are hard, objective standards that have to be followed. As such, there’s no mechanism in place for someone to take advantage of the system for monetary gain. Not from within the system, anyway.
But when officials get to make the decision about who gets a permit and who doesn’t, it becomes possible for some less than scrupulous individuals to take advantage of that. It becomes pretty easy to see how such a thing would work.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Unfortunately, California seems to think this somehow keeps guns out of the hands of unsavory people, all while forgetting that unsavory people may well be the only people getting guns in some places. Trust me, the most law-abiding people in Santa Clara aren’t necessarily the ones who got approved for permits. A few might have–maybe they donated to the sheriff’s campaign because they supported him and never realized their permits were approved because of it, for example–but a lot didn’t.
Nice job, California. You’ve created an incentive for corruption that may well do the exact opposite of what your permitting system was meant to do.