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“Comments by San Bernardino City Attorney James Penman that residents should ‘load their guns’ due to police cutbacks during bankruptcy has set off a debate over whether he’s stirring up fears or telling the grim truth.” Over at, Penman blamed his critics’ ignorance for the controversy. “I can understand how people who don’t live or work in the City of San Bernardino and don’t hear the sirens every night, the gun shots, the helicopters overhead, as many San Bernardino residents do, might not understand the significance when you have people being killed in their homes.” Sounds like an easy-to-understand concept to me. “We have to start encouraging people to protect themselves. The situation is that bad in San Bernardino.” So bad people have to defend themselves by themselves for themselves? Wow. And now, the walk back . . .

Penman said the audience he was speaking to was mostly seniors including some veterans. He said he wouldn’t give the same advice to households with children. In those homes, he advises residents to keep guns and ammunitions locked away separately and for parents to put trigger locks on their guns.

He also said anyone who buys firearms should make sure to get proper training through courses such as those offered by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Still, we so called this one. As police departments fall victim to budget cuts caused by outsized public sector salaries, Cadillac health care plans and absurdly generous pensions, the public is finally beginning to realize what was true all along: they are their own first responders.

Welcome to our world.

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    • They’d probably still end up cutting police services anyway. From what I understand, the budget shortfall is gigantic.

      Anyway, the thing that’s too bad about this is most people don’t realize this is actually situation normal, and not the result of budget cuts. If something is happening, chances are good the police won’t be able to get there in time to affect the outcome, so you’re really on your own anyway.

    • With ten years working and volunteering in fire and EMS, I can say that public safety is almost always the first thing cut.

    • They cut the services that people need the most to cause fear so that people will vote for property or sales tax increases in the next election. Notice it’s not social workers, food stamp issuers or assistant to the assistant county bureaucrats who are cut, it is usually Fire, Police and then education.

      • Didn’t think of that Ran. My old high school still routinely cuts sports and bus services every year to try and pass a levy. Luckily everyone hates the high school because they spent millions on a new building to add “more class rooms” yet only added one more room, a coaches office. Just assumed my school was corrupt, not that it was normal operating procedure of government peoples.

        God its like every day that goes by I loose a little bit of my “you can trust people” innocence.

    • You could cut the pay and bennies of elected officials too.

      But people in California must to come to grips with how unsustainable the defined benefit pensions for their public employees are, especially law enforcement and fire fighters.

      It’s easy to say that the politicians shouldn’t be cutting public safety full time employees, but when you actually examine the numbers in the budgets, you see that if you really want to reduce expenses to go along with the new reality of the vastly reduced ad valorem tax revenues in many communities, there will have to be cuts to fire and police departments, as well as teachers and schools.

    • Many of theses cities are so much in debt do you really believe that if they worked for free it would solve the problem?

      The overly generous benefits are one issue. The over generous social services is the next, and, finally – to many people not paying their fair share. Start with the stupid way they collect property taxes.

      The math is simple, you cannot spend more than you take in.

      They cannot cut social services because it is their main voting group that would suffer and second, they have created a culture of dependency that is too hard to break politically

      • Good point on the working for free commen, Pascal.

        My home town fire department is volunteer. They do not get a paycheck but it is still owned and funded by the town and taxpayers. That being said, we were a government/municpal service and still subject to budget cuts and like any other business still need a source of income for training and equipment.

    • I think if accessible to children its illegal to have loaded. You live with no kids loaded is ok.

      Don’t quote me on that, law might have changed since last i checked which is a long time ago.

    • Crock, the way I understand it you can load and carry a gun on your own property or in your place of business if you own the business or have the companies permission. If you leave a loaded firearm where a child can access and use it you are subject to criminal and civil penalties if the worst happens.

      I live in the San Francisco bay area and on at least 1 occasion where a grandfather allowed his grandson access to a pistol and the boy died the DA declined to press charges. YMMV.

      I have been retired for a couple of years and recently began classes to get my California guard card and gun permit to work private security. The retired police officer teaching the course has said basically the same thing as Penman. With more budgets being cut more and more services are being curtailed and this has seen a spike in the number of companies hiring private security.

      I intend to go back to work until my wife gets old enough to retire and we can get out of California.

      • Hey jwm we aren’t the most relaxed gun state but Arkansas I pretty laid back, we are shall issue, and we have some of the most beautiful country here.
        And best of all we have the best gum builders around.
        GunCrafters, Wilson Combat, Nighthawk Custom, and soon Walther USA are all here. Plus Umarex and Daisy.
        Come on over, find you a little piece of country side and settle down to good laid back life!!

        • Speed, It’s looking more and more like Utah. That’s a beuatiful place and it’s close enough that we can visit the kids that stay in Ca.

      • I was born in the San Bernardino Community Hospital and raised in San Bernardino county, and I finally got out over 10 years ago and would NEVER go back other than for a week every year or two to visit Disneyland. I would tell you to move to AZ, but AZ is going the way of CA, probably because there are too many Californians coming here. The wrong kind of Californians, that is.

      • Well we have nine kids, and we are planning on leaving. Idaho is a top pick followed by Nevada. Both are close enough to CA.
        Now it is just an issue of jobs.
        My friend wants to more and start a firearms company. Yeah ok a pipe dream, and machining start up costs can be high.

        As far as local law here, if nothing bad happens you are all good, but this is why we have biometric gun safes. Quick easy access to loaded defensive weapons and the rest remain unloaded and locked away.

    • According to the California Department of Justice Firearms Laws Summary Booklet, anyone above the age of eighteen (18) may carry a loaded handgun on their person inside their residence or place of business.
      No reference to children was made.
      This is the latest offical copy I could find.
      I did find unoffical updates through 2013 and no new laws addressed home carry as far as I could tell. Again these are UNOFFICAL reports NOT related to the California AG’s office.

      • This is all kind of off topic, but there are two different laws in question, maybe three. There is no law against keeping a loaded firearm anywhere in your house at any time. HOWEVER, there is a Penal Code provision that says that IF an owner fails to use reasonable care to secure the weapon, and IF a minor obtains possession and IF an injury or death results, the GUN OWNER may be subject to misdemeanor or felony prosecution, depending on the circumstances. SOME of these cases are not prosecuted, some are. We had one recently where Grandpa forgot he’d left his Glock by his lounge chair when the gandkids came over ealier than expected–and a 3 year old shot himself in the head with grandpa’s gun. (By the way, Grandpa was an FFL. ) No prosecution. Then a few weeks past, daddy left his loaded shotgun on the coffee table in the family room to go do something welse, with his children home. One kid picked up the shotgun and shot two others. Confirmed for trial yesterday of felony child endangerment.

        Then there are places like San Francisco. I haven’t read the decision yet, but a federal court judge there, Heller notwithstanding, upheld a SF ordinance requiring firearms to bo either in your personal prossession or locked up. He also sustained an attack on the prohibition of sales of hollow point ammo (same case) [but possession is legal, you just have to go out of town to buy it.]

  1. I think it should be emphasized that this is california, and that we are even more at risk since the bad guys know that most people here see guns as things that jump up a kill things even when left alone. I’m on the other side of L.A., opposite of san bernardino and hear helicopters usually every day.

    So yeah, top scoring place in the US for gun safety according to the brady campaign.

  2. FWIW, the working-age public employees aren’t the problem as far as healthcare costs. The elephant in the room is the cost of end-of-life care. It is magnitudes more expensive than any other medical care that most people receive in their lifetimes. Those last days, weeks, or months are valuable to the friends and family of the dying, but we need some serious innovation in how that treatment is provided.

    The pension plans have their own elephants in the room: in many state and local governments, private sector consultants convinced governments to not make necessary payments and instead invest the money. The investments went sour, and the obligations were still there. On top of that, there are the often cited loopholes for accrued vacation time and overtime. A small number of employees could parasitically drain funds by playing the system. The same goes for salaries. We’ve all heard about the obscure mid-level managers who pull in several times more per year than their mayor/governor/whoever.

    Rather than repeating the tired anti-xxx arguments, why don’t we all focus on specific causes and effects of the budget problems in this country, the same as we do for guns and gun-control?

  3. “due to police cutbacks during bankruptcy”
    — What happens legally and financially to a city that declares bankruptcy? How is a city bankruptcy different than a personal or business one? Will the city soon be able to ‘re-boot’ charge taxes again and start fresh with a new revenue base and acting police force?

    “set off a debate over whether he’s stirring up fears or telling the grim truth”
    — Perhaps he intended to do both.

    He is getting lots of national advertising with his advice to residents. Will he one day be called a prophet or forgotten?

    • I’m not a lawyer (obviously), but since I invest in some muni bonds, I’ve researched this a bit.

      Basically, the differences come down to the chapter of the bankruptcy code under which the filings are made. Individuals can file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the US Bankruptcy code. Cities, counties, townships, taxing districts, school districts, etc (but not states) may file under Chapter 9 of the BK code.

      OK, without getting into a legal lecture, the big differences are this:

      Individuals who file under Chapter 7 are basically telling the court “I’m really broke, I can’t viably repay my creditors – either now or in the foreseeable future.” The court takes the debtor’s non-exempt property and sells it, then uses the proceeds to pay off the creditors in an order determined by the court and the code.

      Chapter 13 of the US BK code allows the debtor to re-organize their debts and re-payment schedules. Some of the debt might be excused, but not all of it. The debtor is going to have to repay the creditors, but they’re seeking relief as to the timing and duration of the debt.

      Now, Chapter 9 is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. When a town/city/township/etc files Chapter 9, they’re effectively saying that their tax revenues will not permit them to repay their creditors in a timely manner. The case goes into BK court to determine if the application for Chap 9 BK is correct in accounting and projections, then the court allows the case to start going forward. Creditors at this point come forward and start pleading their case as to whether the case should be allowed to proceed, whether the municipality should have to repay in full, whether the muni is negotiating in good faith, etc.

      If the applying muni gets their pleading through to the stage where the court admits it, then the serious haggling starts among all creditors, and this includes not only bondholders who the muni promised to repay, but also vendors, contractors, employees, unions, etc. A BK court has the power to revisit employment contracts – and things like retirement benefits and salaries, as well as staffing levels.

      Basically, what it comes down to is this: Politicians almost never cut budgets because they’ve been buying votes with the taxpayers’ monies. When the money runs out, and the political hacks have trapped their muni into a situation where the politicians would have to make some very politically unpopular cuts, they apply for Chapter 9, because you see, BK judges aren’t elected. They’re appointed. So when the judge starts taking a chainsaw to the budget(s) and benefits of the public employee unions, there’s nothing the unions can do about it but pay their lawyers to plead their case.

      • Thank you. That was very informative and actually interesting too. What a dependent nanny-state mess this once strong and self-reliant nation of independent pioneers has become.

  4. Pretty good advice. Glad to see someone publicly speaking out for people protecting themselves.

    “Unemployed cops are almost as dangerous as the ones who still have their jobs.”

    I love the hate for LE that’s on the firearm websites.

    • You may enjoy watching it happen, but remember that your federal taxes will be used to pay for the bailout. Hell, your taxes may even go up to cover it…

    • Never happen, too big too fail and to many delegates to loose. Although they deserve some creative destruction to get out there malaise.

      Pelosi and Feinstein will never let it happen. The entire country will pay to keep the liberal paradise.

      • They will not get a bailout as long as the Republicans hold the House. What’s do they get out of a bailout. The states that vote against them will still vote against them if they vote to safe the California so why help them out?

        • Sorry, but the part that generates the 15% is what’s left of the private sector. That will go on even if the state government cannot pay it’s bills. Furthermore, sucking money out of the rest of the country will not change the national economic loss of California going under. It will just transfer the loss to other states. As European bailout of Greece and Spain have demonstrated is that all you do is make everybody poorer without improving the situation in the bailed out states.

          There is significant Republican support in both houses of Congress for the “let it burn” strategy — give Obama whatever he wants on the economy so he will own the disaster. California is the exemplar that Republicans will want to put on display to show what happens when when you apply socialist policies.

          Detroit will probably be disestablished next year. Attempting to save it will only bring down the rest of the state. Attempting to bail out California will just crash the US economy.

        • First post didn’t go through so this will be the short version. A California bailout will only transfer the pain to the rest of the country. The fall in GNP will be the same. Just look at what happened to the EU after they bailed out Greece and Spain. They fell into a continent wide recession. Far better for the economy to let California take the brunt of the downturn.

          California is just 1960 West Virginia with movie stars.

  5. How bad does it have to get before the people of California finally make the fiscal changes they need to make?

    If its that bad in San Bernardino I would hate to be in Oakland. And its not just CA. Camden, NJ and Chicago are no better.

    The really sad part, people will still not learn the limits of gov’t to protect you or services that they can provide until there is a very severe incident. It will get worse if we go over the “fiscal cliff” where Democratic stalwart Howard Dean even predicts will cause fiscal depression that could take over a year to recover from causing states a cities to be further squeezed.

    What a mess!

    • It’s going to get worse, perhaps much worse.

      I’ve examined the fiscal situation in CA for years – and after 2007, I washed my hands of any investment in their muni debt, anywhere in CA, because the numbers I saw showed me what we see now was coming.

      The collapse in real estate values also is collapsing ad valorem tax revenues, and the poor economy is crimping other tax revenues.

      Basically, what got California into this mess was the dot-com bubble. When it was party-hearty time in ’97, ’98 and ’99, people were exercising their non-incentive stock options en masse, and the income tax revenues in California went into overdrive.

      The political class in Sacramento thought that this boost in revenue was because of something that they did “right” – when in fact, it had nothing to do with the political class. Those parasites were simply in the right place at the right time in history. But what was worse than their hubris was their assumption that this tax revenue increase was sustainable and would be there forever.

      When the dot-com bubble imploded in ’01 and ’02, tax revenues collapsed at the high end of state income tax payers – but the legislature had already spent the bulk of the expected revenues in public employee comp packages, especially pensions and health care.

      There’s no way that the Democrats in Sacto will undo these comp packages, because their political power base is the public employee unions. They (and Gov. Moonbeam Brown) think that simply raising taxes will close their budget gap. It won’t. The actuarial abyss is just beginning for California.

      • This is true. For years, municipalities, lacking current income to fund raises for public sector employees, have been granting deferred income in the form of ample retirement packages with fully paid health care, assuming that somewhere along the line, tax revenues would pay for it all. Prop 13 cut the heart out of property taxes for residential owners, and exceptions in that law for businesses have largely prevented reassessment of most of the major business properties int he state for years. Mutliply that with the DotCom collapse and the real estate colapse, and ther recession and record high unemployment and one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, a total dearth of lending, and the number of retirees rising, the burden of future benefit costs has become unsustainable for more than just San Bernardino; several other cities have also declared bankruptcy, and others have been considering it. I live in a county that suffered 17% unemployment and a reduction by up to 50% in real property valuations. Never having had good cash flow, it is now stuck with retirement plans that pay full benefits and nearly full pay to retirees in their fifties. It ability to pay for these deferred compensation packages–most of which are for police and firemen–is questionable.

        • P.S.: This county is dominated by Republicans. Police officer staffing has been falling, as has fire. But we have our guns. And we need them; the State has been releasing “nonviolent” drug felons (to reduce overcrowding) in our midst, with a resultin increase in property crimes to pay for the resumption of these folks’ drug habits.

      • Part of the fix for this problem is actually being discussed here. Raise the retirement age for government sector employees. It’s not a complete fix but it’s a step in the right direction.

  6. Even though an elected official finally spoke the truth in a public setting, I don’t think the public truly understands. Most people have not had to face violence, up close and personal, directed at them. As long as this is true, the public at large is likely to continue living with the belief that even though things are getting worse, it won’t happen to them so they don’t have to really worry about it.

    If the local economy and local government were really allowed to collapse (and like some of those above, I don’t believe this will happen), then the resulting chaos just might be bad enough that the average person could be made to understand. Right now, all they will do is get angry, demand someone do something about it, and demand someone else pay for it. Then they will vote for whoever promises exactly that.

  7. Want more peace officers/EMS/firefighters? Do what I do and volunteer your time. It’s like having a second job without pay but everyone wins in the end.


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