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By Ben Griffiths

I grew up in a gun-free household in the outskirts of Los Angeles. I shot a few times with the Boy Scouts on my way to becoming an Eagle, so I was familiar with firearms, but that was my only firearms experience. My perception of firearms drastically changed in the summer of 1998 when I witnessed a poorly planned, poorly executed bank robbery . . .

I was on my way to my summer job and decided to stop by a bank near the university I was to attend that fall in order to open an account. It was 8:15 AM or so and I was ready to open the account and then hit the road for a long drive.

As I stood at the first window to make my deposit, a man walked in with a gun held high and announced “This is a stick up! Nobody be a hero….” I kid you not. He had no gloves, no mask, and put finger and shoe prints all over the counter without a thought as he hopped over.

He did not point the gun at me, but I recognized the weapon as he emptied out the cash drawer directly in front of me. It was a Ruger P94. My friend had one just like it. I had a strong case of tunnel vision…I was focused in on that firearm. In that moment, I registered the cocked hammer, the red painted safety dot that indicated the safety was off, and his finger tight on the trigger. I will never forget how he jammed the stacks of cash into a collection of mismatched cloth and paper bags as he made his way down the line of cash drawers.

We didn’t know it at the time, but the bank’s alarm system wasn’t functioning, a fact that in hindsight should have influenced my banking selection. The police had no idea we were being robbed until one of the desk employees called 9-1-1. “We are getting robbed… am I supposed to call you guys?” You can’t make this stuff up.

Our intrepid bank robber had just hopped back over the counter and was on his way to the door when one of the greasy McDonald’s bags tore open and money spilled out onto the floor. He proceeded to kneel down, placing the gun on the floor to pick up the cash. I remember being flabbergasted by both his casual treatment of time, and his stupidity.

Not one person in the bank was close enough to intervene physically, so after what seemed like an eternity he finished cleaning up the cash, stood, and exited the bank.

As he rounded the exterior corner of the bank, the first policeman screeched up alone in his patrol car. Without missing a beat the bank robber fired five shots at the car, striking the cop and making his escape.

We later found out (while being locked up with the FBI in the bank all day – thanks for the pizza guys!) that the one bullet to make it through the windshield had hit the steering wheel. The bullet sheared into two portions, the larger of which careened over the officer’s shoulder. The smaller portion fragmented, striking him in the face and eye. He later made a full recovery.

The bank robbery changed my life. The idea that a criminal could take control of my life through the mere possession of arms bounced around in my brain all summer.

That fall I secured a job at the local gun store and also obtained my first handgun with a shiny new CCW permit to match. I focused every future research paper for the rest of my academic career on the negative effects of gun control, all while carrying a handgun every day. I became a firearm advocate’s advocate.

Fast forward. I have seven years’ of daily experience carrying a firearm on my person. I have three permits to do so (NV, FL, & UT, one of which I have had for more than 15 years without incident). I am a Distinguished Graduate from Front Sight, earned while taking well over 100 hours of what I consider excellent defensive handgun training. We take our kids there for a week every year as a family vacation, and they have been known to say that they like it more than Disneyland.

I am not trying to trumpet my awesomeness here, nor my dedication to the fraternity or firearms… I am just laying groundwork for the point of this opus.

I moved back to Los Angeles to take over the family business…behind enemy lines as it were. You can imagine how I felt when I was hit by the avalanche of negativity that is the California gun culture. Even so, I decided to take a run at LASD’s permitting process. I was determined to submit an application the likes of which the petty pencil pushers in the CCW department had never seen.

My application was a work of art.

Eagle scout. No criminal record. Business owner providing for the livelihood of 20 employees and contractors (as well as my family of seven). Volunteer clergy member. Deposit records for both church and business. CCW history documentation. A personal recommendation from then Chairman of the Joint Services Committee, Congressman Buck McKeon. A personal recommendation from a 10-year LA SWAT supervisor. A personal recommendation from my local LASD satellite office (we are in unincorporated Los Angeles County).

I even had the whole thing organized with color-coded and labeled tabs, held neatly together in a black folder no less than an inch thick. How could they deny something so perfect, right?

When the rubber-stamped denial came back, I was halfway surprised despite my negative expectations.

The letter stated,

…convincing evidence of a clear and present danger refers to a current situation which involves a specific person(s) who has threatened an individual and who has displayed a pattern of behavior which would suggest that the threat(s) could be carried out.

I called to appeal (repeatedly) and was told there is no appeals process.

I then called a few of the big 2A law firms, but was told that they were no longer looking for the perfect case to run up the flagpole of our court system. (If you are a law firm and want a poster child in California, give me a call. I am still willing.)

I even wrote a letter after our last Sherriff left office, asking our new Sherriff to review my case. I was told that LASD has not changed their issuance policy and I did not qualify for a permit.

It makes me cringe every time I hear a call for “reasonable” gun restrictions, because this is not reasonable by any measure. When I have the person who is making said call in front of me (or on Facebook), I educate them about my position by telling them my story.

Every liberal I have approached has sympathized with my plight. They all think I am the type of person who should be carrying. They always clarify their stance immediately by then saying, “It’s those CRAZY people we are trying to keep from getting a gun.”

My point to them and anyone else who will listen is this: when government controls who can exercise a right, it becomes at best a privilege, but more commonly becomes a right denied.

I am now part of a huge population that is denied a basic human right, one more fundamental than any pretend discussion that floats across the public consciousness in today’s ever-shortening news cycle. For now, Peruta is a distant legal hope for me, and I remain a person who can only protect myself, my employees and my family through civil disobedience at great risk to everything I hold dear.

How is that reasonable?

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84 Responses to Contest Entry: At Best, A Privilege

  1. I am being cynical but I am surprised your liberal friends “agreed” with you. My guess is their sympathy was purely for show. Later, after you left, they all agreed that less guns, even in your capable hands is still a good thing.

    • Many people who describe themselves as liberals are low information voters. If you are able to get through their layers of indoctrination to present the empirical facts of your position, they often crumble. But of course, those layers of indoctrination are pretty thick, and it requires a well thought out plan to get those facts in before they put up their “shields”.

      • But even then,, when they agree that you’re right and they know they do, it sets up a huge cognitive dissonance, and they still find themselves supporting more gun control.

      • That’s true. It’s also true that many misanthropes and outright monsters call themselves liberal, too. They know full well the harm they are doing, and they like it.

        Sadism carries a stigma, however, so they wrap their hatred in liberalism. Liberalism’s phony lovey dovey schtick and its destructive bent provide the perfect cover for their hatred.

        With these people, facts serve only to fuel further infringements.

    • False. As a liberal gun owner, I’ll remind you that the distinction between liberal and conservative is not made exclusively along the gun issue. I have a bunch of gun-friendly liberal friends that carry, a bunch that don’t, and some less gun-friendlies that are probably only a couple trips to the gun range and a little reading of gun laws from being okay with guns.

      • Mass theft under the threat of force (IRS, etc) and redistribution of wealth isn’t any better just because someone calls it “social issues” even if the person supports gun rights.

        • So unless someone aligns with your political beliefs, they aren’t “real” gun owners?
          This nation isn’t going full batshit Libertarian any time soon. Many, if not most, of us like having a funded, functional Government and a reasonable level of social services provided.

        • “Many, if not most, of us like having a funded, functional Government and a reasonable level of social services provided.”

          When you find one of those you should probably move there.
          Until then I guess we will all tolerate our debt ridden, dysfunctional, wealth redistributing, immoral cesspool that we call gov’t coming from DC.

        • So unless someone aligns with your political beliefs, they aren’t “real” gun owners?

          No. I didn’t write that. You did. I meant what I wrote; nothing more, nothing less.

      • “What this pompous ass said. Give up your life, job, business, family, home, etc”
        According to the articles author he is already willing to give up his life(freedom&integrity), job, business, family, home, etc, by disobeying a tyrannical law imposed by the seceded territory of California. So why wouldn’t the author quit paying for his rights to be negated into a state sanctioned privilege.

        Now it depends on if the author has the moral fortitude to use his Second Amendment to prevent false arrest and illegal detainment.
        Many human beings in the last century did not have that right to defend themselves from the state with force like WE Americans and they were sent to “showers” or on a rail to a gulag.

        • You make an excellent point. He stated he is willing to risk losing everything to protect his loved ones. Why shouldn’t he be willing to just *move?* Yeah, he would be moving away from relatives, but he lived away from them for a long time beforehand. Yes, it is a family business, but he can take it with him wherever he goes.

          If he is willing to risk losing literally everything, why won’t he give up his location to ensure he can keep the rest safe?

        • @WedlJ –

          ” Yes, it is a family business, but he can take it with him wherever he goes.”

          What planet are you from?

          Dude, you obviously know *nothing* of how a small business operates in the real world.

          Is his customer base built over many years going to move with him?

          Are his 20 employees going to drop everything and move with him?

          The depth of the lack of clue you have is astounding.

      • If he isn’t willing to do that he is CHOOSING to stay, right?

        It’s the guy’s choice to stay, nobody is forcing him. Sacrificing fundamental rights is the cost of living in California, and ESPECIALLY in Los Angeles County.

        You should check your premises before you call someone an ass next time.

        • It is a 2nd generation family business that cannot move. It has a reputation and sells retail to the public. Moving means losing my livelihood.

          Ben

        • Hey, if I had a 6-plus $ figure income family business I could have stepped into after college, even in some crappy location, but with a guaranteed job, great income, and no wasting 10 or 15 years of life trying to achieve a decent income, I would do the same, as would most. This author is very lucky (although not as lucky as those who love hunting/shooting and step into free farms/ranches from mom and dad). Clearly, the guy is banking $’s from the family business, and will probably bug out after a bunch of years socking away cash, and have financial freedom to live wherever he wants in 15 years or so.

  2. I feel you. I am a distinguished graduate from Front Sight as well. I only have about 80hours of pistol training under my belt, but will be hitting the 100 mark this year.

    I also just moved back to Los Angeles for career opportunities after living in Seattle for 7 years, with my CCW for 4 of those years.

    • Sounds like all you need is one of those “family business” things to complete the picture 🙂

  3. I wonder what happens if on the application under reason you put “California is shall issue and you have a legal obligation to approve this application,” or something along those lines.

    • The sheriff laughs like crazy, because CA is discretionary, the Peruta case is still in progress after having been heard en Ban( holding our breathe here in CA for that ruling.), and the court has permitted current issue procedures to be followed until the ruling.

      Sheriff in LA also knows the politicians have his back and even after the Peruta ruling, if it uphold civil rights and the 2A, will undoubtedly do the same foot dragging as Chicago and DC.

      • Seems like there is never any foot dragging when it comes to the fudge packing issues. Greased lightening marriage licenses issued within minutes of SCOTUS rulings.

        • The Constitution was written to protect free peoples from OUR current society, which is obvious when legally recognizing the act of one man giving another man a blow job is more important than legally recognizing the American Citizen’s right to the defensive use of a firearm when an evil man is intent upon harm.

        • It has been argued before the Ninth Circuit en banc panel, and all are awaiting the decision. There is no timeline as to when it may be issued. There is no doubt that it will be a split decision, the only question is which way the wind will blow.

      • I have perverse fantasies of owning a home with a thick concrete facade made up like the normal face of a house and watching police try to breach it on cctv. Maybe a normal front door made to give two inches intro it.

        This is predicated on the belief/observation that no criminal act is required to incur a SWATtin’.

        I think my name on a list somewhere is being an asterisk.

  4. I would never willingly move to any of those neo-liberal Slave State cesspools. I feel for you, I really do. I would also suggest you move, but I can see how hard that would be to pull up stakes especially when you run a company there.

    The best we can do for now is funnel money to the Second Amendment advocacy groups still left in The People’s Republik of Kommiefornistan, while doing all we can in our home states to make sure the anti-rights sickness doesn’t spread.

  5. Do you have to move around the city for your business? If you have an business property carrying in the building should still be legal, right?

    • Yes, it is legal for him to carry at the business and at home, just not in between, and not when he goes to the bank.

    • Don’t be sorry, anonymous contributor is making a choice to stay there. I have zero sympathy for people like this. There is no “fighting the good fight” in some places, California is one of them.

      • Then you’re kind of a dick. This man values his family and his gun rights. Both are great things. Not everyone can have both in this world. Just because you can does not give you the right to judge others.

        • I’ll take the title of dick, no big deal. Fact of the matter is my family took a substantial monetary loss when we moved, then we built ourselves back up. We made a choice, same as the guy who chooses to stay. I don’t fault him for staying, which I stated elsewhere. I don’t, however, have time for people who bitch about their lack of freedom whilst making a conscious, informed decision to sacrifice it for convenience.

          Not all of us get a gubmint pass to carry whenever/wherever we please. 😉

        • “Not everyone can have both in this world.”
          In the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America every citizen has that right, only indentured servants make the choice to sacrifice their liberty, which is sacrificing the very essence of being American.

          Capitalism-making your skills known to those who could employ them, which is not a geographically located ideal.

          “Just because you can does not give you the right to judge others.”
          It most certainly does give him the right to look down at you serfs of seceded territories that WE Americans are forced to help pay for.
          In Jesus’s time you serfs are the money changers, and it won’t be pleasant forcing your diseased beliefs on us. There could be good people in the slave states but they are impotent and have chosen to be comfortable slaves over American Citizens.

      • Gee Matt I’m still sorry-as a resident of Cook co.,Il I can relate. LOT’S of Indiana types telling me we would never get CC-just move. And now we have shall issue CC…I’m with Accur81-lighten up. I can’t move at this time either…but things are way better.

        • Thanks for that. Instead of just telling people to move, they should fight for their gun rights wherever they are. Dr Vino and I both live “behind enemy lines.” It’s not an easy task for a man with a job and family to pick up stakes and move.

  6. I was born and raised in Sacramento. In the 1970s I knew plenty of kids who hunted . When a serial rapist was active groups of men openly carried long guns in my part of the county and stopped strangers in the neighborhood. One time they caught a meter reader going from back yard to back yard. They called the police and held him at gun point until they came. They were not procecuted.

    The California I grew up in is gone.

  7. I’m curious… Why not move to either Ventura or Orange counties where you are less likely to be denied a permit because, guns? Yea, the commute can suck (I made it from the IE to Santa Monica, I know…) but it’s really not a huge price to pay.

    I get that the family business prohibits you from evacuating the socialist paradise that is The Golden State (otherwise I’d say MOVE like I do to just about everybody else,) but switching counties isn’t really a huge deal in the grand scheme of things…

    • Or rent a cheap apartment in one of those counties to establish residency there (not saying you should actually LIVE there), get your permit from that county, and carry legally anywhere in the state – it is still a state permit, right?

      • The operative word in your suggestion is “cheap.”

        No such thing as cheap in the anus of the West Coast, unless Idyllwild is your thing and I’m pretty sure there is a special strain of herpes there that infects people who just simply through.

        • Someone could make a lot of money renting out dirt cheap ‘residences’ in permit-friendly counties for people who are denied for no reason in their own home counties.

      • If you get caught lying about your legal residence, your chances at a CCW are gone–and yes, the “no issue” counties send investigators around to check. In fact, some insist on interviewing your neighbors to see if you are the kind of guy who can be trusted with a gun, in addition to the (legally not required by nonetheless demanded) personal references.

    • As a business owner I work 8-11 hours a day. I have 5 kids that are as important to me as my life. If I add a 1-2 hour commute each way, I don’t see them at all. I’d rather break the law than abandon my family.

      -Ben

  8. I was born and raised in the PDRC. When I noticed that the criminals were in charge and that I wasn’t allowed to protect myself in public, I moved. For those that stay who are not a criminal, one day your name will be changed to victim, I’d leave if I were you.

  9. Dont move. Dig in and be a rebel in indian territory. If all you posit is true. The state has no right to disarm you. You owe it to yourself, your family and God to arm yourself. Criminals obviously do not obey the gawdawful libtarded laws of Calixifornia. Why should you?

  10. Interesting write up. Considering your willingness to be a test case I have a thought you might like to try: If you can find a like-minded individual with an analogous resume (both in firearms and business) try having that person put together a package as close to yours as possible. Then before he or she submits it, have that person make a substantial donation to the sheriff’s re-election campaign.

  11. So, Los Angeles County’s standard to issue a concealed carry license:

    … a current situation which involves a specific person(s) who has threatened an individual and who has displayed a pattern of behavior which would suggest that the threat(s) could be carried out.

    means that no one will ever qualify. Why? Because if a person has threatened you, you know who they are, and they have a track record where they demonstrated that they carry out threats, such a person should already be in prison under stalking laws and there would be no actual threat.

    In other words the Los Angeles County Sheriff office is going out of their way to make sure criminals can operate with impunity. Sounds like treason to me.

    • Not so much treason (which has a very specific definition) but a total dereliction of duty and a (likely) violation of his oath of office (which, alone, is not treason). That’s bad enough and honestly should get one thrown in jail rather than wrist-slapped.

  12. And this is just one reason why I have to stifle a laugh when I get a call for a job in Cali. The other is that even if my pay was doubled, I still wouldn’t break even on cost of living and quality of life. (My $192K home would be over $1.5M anywhere near a CA city a job for me would be.)

  13. This is what you get when you vote for liberals and democrats, a disarmed state. California is the main example of why you should not let any politicians gain power over the constitution.

  14. Success is the best revenge…
    Assuming your business is mobile (i.e. not a local service like dry cleaning), work to grow it to a substantial size and then follow Magpul’s example and move all those jobs out of state.

  15. Orange and San Bernardino counties authorize CCWs. A lease of an apartment or and / an address change through the DMV may be sufficient to establish residency within a county. Then go through the process with a better sheriff. Good luck.

    • Last I heard Ventura was also permitting…

      Funny how your post is VERY similar to my primary, but you chose to call me a dick for suggesting he shouldn’t bitch about choosing to not move elsewhere.

      • Probably because I was being less judgmental and more helpful. A move from LA County to Orange County is commutable. I’ve done it, but not for CCW reasons (OC has lower taxes, is more conservative, has smarter people than LA, is more clean, and has awesome beaches).

        Plus every place you could live probably has something wrong with it. Its pretty normal for somebody to have a legitimate bitch about where they live.

        • Wasn’t being judgmental at all. I was pointing out that you don’t always get to have your cake and eat it too.

          Even you admit that you are “behind enemy lines,” but you act like we should have some special level of respect for you for putting yourselves at a tactical disadvantage. The move isn’t always an easy or palatable option, but it IS an option nonetheless. Nobody is forcing anyone else to stay in CA.

          You may not like your options, but there are options on the table regardless. Don’t get defensive because you don’t get sympathy for your choices.

        • I did that commute too. Irvine to downtown LA. Some days it took 40 minutes. Other days, it took 3 hours one way. Never again. I wouldn’t wish that drive on anybody.

      • Ventura County is permitting, but hope to heck you can go through your local jurisdiction rather than VCSD. Geoff Dean is not a whole lot better on this than Bob Brooks was, but thanks to the county’s fear of litigation, they’ll at least act like CCW permits are available now. Oh yeah, and no SSE guns on your permit, last time I checked, six months ago.

  16. I don’t care if someone is offended. California, slave state
    Washington DC, slave city
    Washington State, slave state
    New York, slave state
    New Jersey, slave state
    Oregon, becoming a slave state

    All southern states are free states. Even with the Jim Crow Era North Carolina gun laws, it’s still easier to get a firearm there than in California.

  17. Ben, rather than carry illegally what about carrying a Taser, pepper spray etc legal items? I know they are not the same but at least they should be legal in your area.

    • Pretty sure all of those items are illegal in Los Angeles County. A taser/stun gun was certainly a nono when I was living in Santa Monica. My experiences with pepper spray and tear gas left me with a disinclination to carry anything of that nature so I couldn’t speak to that one.

      If you’re in for a penny….

      • I lived in Los Angeles several years ago, and carried a Taser and pepper spray at times. My understanding was it that was legal at that time. I just did a quick web search and have not found anything indicating it is not legal now, though some police might believe otherwise if they pull you over in a traffic stop. And I agree it is important to check the local municipal codes in places like Santa Monica.

        • Pepper spray and Tasers are legal except in specified court, planes and government buildings. I’m trying to recall if their is an upper limit on the size of the pepper spray canister, although I don’t particularly care.

    • Two words, Second Amendment… No national reciprocity necessary. I wouldn’t support a national privilege when the exercise of an incorporated right is already national; even if they don’t realize it yet.

        • I can’t support any move to install a privilege in lieu of the right to keep and bear arms. It’s a compromise that has high potential to permanently destroy the exercise of the right. Concealed handgun licenses are doing exactly that in some places. I don’t want the cancer to spread to the entire nation.

  18. when government controls who can exercise a right, it becomes at best a privilege, but more commonly becomes a right denied.

    Exactly! It’s shall not be infringed for a reason.

    Great article.

  19. WELL…my ancestors left Europe for our shores in a hope for a better life-and went through hell on my mothers side. If you want something bad enough…

  20. Is this what our freedom is for, the tearing down of others simply because their life choices are different and the leaders thrust upon them are tyrannical? Be the change, take up the fight with this man! Do not mock or deride him! He stands alone against the tyranny of his government in defense of his life and the lives of his family. Would you do as much in his position? This is the kind of man we need in the days to come. A man who is truly willing to put that which is right above the rule of men. That ideal is what forged this nation, we should not flee from it but charge towards it! The bravery to risk all to protect and defend all that you hold dear. Would that we were all so brave!

  21. “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

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