Updated: May 27
On July 28, 2019, a 19-year-old male opened fire on the crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Chief of Police Scot Smithee stated there were “many, many officers in the park at the time,” crediting his department for the quick response time. Weapons of any kind (including slingshots!?) are prohibited and the parks, as stated in the Rules and Regulations of Santa Clara County's website. Smithee said the shooter entered the event by cutting through a fence. Thus far, 4 are dead and 15 wounded. One of the fallen was a 6-year-old boy.
Gilroy's Mayor, apparently caught completely unaware that gun-free zones are target-rich environments, said in a press conference, “I want to express my extreme shock and sadness about what’s happened today.” Further, rather than taking a hard look at statistics of the death tolls of gun-free zones and draconian limitations on firearms rights, he requested “thoughts and prayers of the community as our Gilroy police officers continue to investigate this tragic and senseless crime.”
Thoughts and prayers, absent serious reconsideration of California's policies, is unhelpful. Having lived in Santa Clara County most of my life, I have some first-hand experience with their policy of refusing to allow law-abiding citizens to be armed in a public setting.
California has long been a hub of gang violence, yet its elected officials focus instead of the Holy Grail of the Leftist agenda, and that is gun control, disingenuously described as the means to stop “gun violence.” When I lived in Santa Clara County, I went through the proper training required by the state Department of Justice and began the process to apply for a concealed weapons permit.
States retained the power to determine their own standards for allowing citizens within their borders to carry firearms, concealed or open carry. The latter used to be allowed in California, provided the gun was unloaded! The only option today there is to carry concealed, and that is next to impossible to do there.
I lived in unincorporated Santa Clara County, and had the misfortune of being subject to the whim of Sheriff Laurie Smith. I discovered that Sheriff Smith had a blanket policy of not issuing any permits, regardless of qualifications. When I contacted her office, her assistant informed me that my “right” to protect myself from criminal activity in the community was non-existent. My right to be armed ended at my property line, as I was told “you have the right to have a gun in your home, according to the Supreme Court, but nowhere else” and that they had no obligation to issue me, a law-abiding citizen, a permit.
Some states, such as my new home state of Utah, must issue a concealed carry permit to any applicants qualified to lawfully own a firearm. Utah is a “shall issue” state. California, on the other hand, is a “may issue” state, and the issuance or denial of a permit to law-abiding citizens is left to the discretion of the top law enforcement official of the jurisdiction in which you reside.
The case the deputy was referring to was District of Columbia et al. v. Heller, where as I explained here the problem with Justice Scalia's erroneous interpretation of “what the Second Amendment means,” has resulted in less gun freedoms, not more. A proper understanding of the Second Amendment means that the general government, meaning Congress, has zero authority to regulate arms, period. Scalia's explanation was being used by Sheriff Smith and others like her to keep us unarmed and vulnerable.
That being said, it is important to realize that California is free to determine its own firearm policies, as the power was never delegated to Congress. Accordingly, the Tenth, not the Second Amendment controls, as I explained in this article.
The shooter in Gilroy was able to fire 30 rounds into the panicked crowd. Imagine what lives may have been saved if the law-abiding citizens had been armed. But you won't hear that discussion from the local or state officials. California is not going to acknowledge the failings of gun control. Thanks to federalism, those seeking the ability to defend themselves and their families from assault, can move to a state that respects this right.
Well-intentioned but misguided gun rights activists are seeking national solutions to our rights to personal protection. Some demand their out-of-state concealed carry permits be honored in California, such as National Concealed Carry Reciprocity. My advice to them is be careful what you wish for, as the very Supreme Court which effectively limited guns “protected” Second Amendment will also determine standards by which
permits will be issued. If that happens, expect something like California's “may issue” policies to be the law of the land. Expect shootings like this on a more frequent basis, in places not experienced in this magnitude before.