Category Archives: Law

Are Los Angeles Bike Paths Lacking Rider Protections?

Is the city pulling a fast one on cyclists that get injured while riding on municipal bike paths? The California Association of Bicycle Organizations thinks so:

People injured on Bike Paths are being cheated out of the protections available to all Californians who are hurt on a public road, sidewalk or bike lane due to the negligence of a municipality. The public has been led to believe that Bike Paths (Class 1 bikeway transportation routes, paved and separated from car traffic) are built with safety in mind partly because California Highway Code establishes minimum safety standards for Bike Paths. But the reality is that municipalities such as the City of Los Angeles are hiding from their responsibility behind a claim that Bike Paths built for transportation are the same as unpaved trails opened for recreation. People are being baited by the promise of a safe Bike Path, but switched to the “ride at your own risk” exposure of an undeveloped trail.

Not a lot of info here unless you want to read the actual legal briefs, but if you’re the type that commutes from Burbank to Downtown on the river path, for example, it’s probably worth looking into.

The Art of Turning Victims Into Criminals

[This is the fourth post in a 5 part series] – I’m quite sure that Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys had nothing but good intentions when he introduced AB 334, the Lost and Stolen Firearm Notification Act, unfortunately this is another example of bill that will change nothing for criminals and just cause more problems for law abiding citizens. In short, this bill would require firearm owners to notify law enforcement within five working days of discovering that a gun has been stolen or irretrievably lost. As I mentioned earlier in the week, around 80% of criminals obtain guns from illegal sources and the idea of this bill is to crack down on that illegal traffic. Unfortunately the logic has a few major flaws. It’s important to keep in mind that ‘straw buying’ – that is buying a gun for someone who can’t legally buy one themselves is already illegal. Likewise, so is stealing a gun, and so is obtaining a gun from illegal sources, hence the “illegal” part.

First of all, and most importantly, guns are expensive. Anyone who followed the letter of the law and purchased a gun legally spent some real cash doing it. And anyone who has anything that is valuable, upon finding out it’s stolen, reports that theft if for no other reason than it has to be reported in order to file an insurance claim. No one likes to have their valuable items stolen, and when people have things they legally own stolen they report that. It’s the people who own things illegally who don’t report them stolen, and those are the thefts that this bill is directed at and that’s why it’s not going to make any difference at all. Just to recap, people who own guns legally already report them stolen upon finding out they were in fact stolen, who who have already broken a law by obtaining an illegal gun are not going to care about breaking another one by not reporting if/when their already illegal guns are stolen. This is just common sense. They are better off pretending they never had the gun in the first place than reporting it and opening themselves up to potentially more charges, who ever stole their illegal gun just did them a favor. But that isn’t the only problem with this bill.

Continue reading The Art of Turning Victims Into Criminals

California’s CCW Licenses Are Too Easy To Fake

[This is the third post in a 5 part series] – In the rest of the country, a state issued license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) is physically just like a Drivers License. flccw.jpgIt’s printed on plastic, contains a photo and a unique serial number, and is tied to a central database so an officer can check it’s validity from his or her in car terminal at any point in time. In California, this license is printed on sheet of paper, contains no photo or unique serial number, and the only way to check it’s validity is to call the specific department where it was issued during office hours and and ask them to verify it. Yes, anyone with 10 minutes at a Kinkos and an eye for detail could make a fake CCW that depending on the time of day would be impossible to verify. I’d like to ask our elected officials step up to fix this massive security problem.

Before I go any further let me show you what I mean – This is a scan of a CCW issued by the State of Florida, and this is a blank CA license. The actual CA licenses that I’ve seen in person have all been filled out on a type writer, sometimes with actual White Out used for any corrections, included no photo, and at first glance looked like a photocopy. Upon further inspection you can see they are printed on something a little thinner than typical copier paper, but if you wanted to make a fake one it would be one of the easier things things you could forge. But because there is no central database of these and there are so many security holes in how these are made and distributed, you might actually be able to buy one out of a back door, you’d just need to know which one to knock on.

Continue reading California’s CCW Licenses Are Too Easy To Fake

Feuer’s Microstamping Bill Is Pointless


[This is the second post in a 5 part series] – The first bill I’m going to talk about is being proposed by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (42nd district in West Hollywood), unfortunately the name or text of the bill hasn’t been released yet but NBC4 says that it “would require all new semiautomatic handguns to be equipped with microstamping technology by the start of 2010.” Since Feuer took the seat previously occupied by Assembly Member Koretz, and Koretz introduced a mictrostamping bill in 2005 it’s probably a safe bet that much of this bill is a carry over from that one. Koretz’s AB 352 was rejected by the Assembly, in fact the co-author of that version, Assemblyman Yee, helped burry it. In part because the proven technology it requires doesn’t exist.

Continue reading Feuer’s Microstamping Bill Is Pointless

Guns, Gangs, and Making Crime Illegal

[This is the first post in a 5 part series] – Last week Mayor Villaraigosa, LAPD Chief Bratton and LASD Sheriff Baca endorsed four new gun control bills that were introduced at the state level. They’ve said these will help deter gang violence. The problem is that 3 of the four bills proposed will do absolutely nothing of the sort. The lone exception is a bill written by Sen. Alex Padilla of Van Nuys, which would give California law enforcement agencies access to a national database of forensic and ballistic information. This makes perfect sense and if anything it’s a shame there has to be a bill to allow something like this.

gunfreezone.jpgBefore I go any further, let’s remember that criminals are willing to break every law, ethical, social, and civil, including murder, robbery, rape, assault, etc, yet some politicians seem to think that they will comply with gun control laws, including all kinds of nit-picky technical laws about handgun safeties, magazine capacities, safe storage requirements, transportation requirements etc. Common sense tells us they won’t. Putting new restrictions on how things are bought/sold/stored/maintained only effects people who are not criminals, because criminals already don’t care about the law. If criminals aren’t paying any attention to the existing laws, why will they suddenly care about the new ones? To see this first hand you don’t have to look any further than Great Britain where handguns have been illegal for private citizens to own since 1998, yet almost 10 years later handgun crime is on the rise or Utah where last week’s mall shooting took place in a “gun free” zone. How can that be? Simple, the people who abide by these laws are not committing crimes to being with – the criminals don’t care about the laws.

Firearms are already heavily regulated, adding more rules to that is akin to making crime illegal. It’s security theater and does absolutely nothing except allow politicians to pat each other on the back. Assemblymen Mike Feuer and Kevin DeLeon, both of LA, are proposing bills which add more restrictions to what and how firearms and ammo can be sold. One of which is just a rewritten version of an incredibly stupid bill proposed last year that failed to get enough support and was dropped. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys goes a step further with a bill that potentially turns crime victims into criminals themselves. Bills like this are reactionary rather than rational, but they don’t have to be. In a series of posts over the next few days I’m going to look at these bills, explain why they won’t make any difference to criminals and why they will only have a negative effect on law abiding gun owners. I’m also going to suggest other bills which would make a real difference, and would actually help make us all safer.

Other Posts In This Series
Part 2: Feuer’s Microstamping Bill Is Pointless
Part 3: California’s CCW Licenses Are Too Easy To Fake
Part 4: The Art of Turning Victims Into Criminals
Part 5: de Le√≥n’s Bill is Misdirected – Who Can Buy Ammo Is More Important

Alicia Keys Wants A Gun

For the life of me I can’t figure out why this is newsworthy but apparently Alicia Keys is talking out loud about her desire to purchase a gun. From the story:

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The singer-and-actress had to learn to shoot in her new movie “Smokin’ Aces” and now she is confident handling a firearm she is seriously contemplating buying one for her own safety.

Keys – who makes her big screen acting debut in the film – said, “I’ve never owned a gun, but I’m seriously considering owning one now. God forbid, if anything happened I would be prepared.”

So, um, she should go buy one. Assuming she doesn’t have some kind of crazy criminal record it’s the same as buying anything else, you just go to the shop and buy it. Of course you then have to wait 10 days to take it home just to make sure you aren’t on some kind of killing spree, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same. Oh, yeah, and also depending on which state you live in the guns you are allowed to buy is completely different, but I’m going to assume we’re talking about CA here and skip that. That aside, buying a gun for protection isn’t a bad idea at all – in fact Glenn Reynolds wrote an op-ed for today’s New York Times about some cities and states with municipal gun ordinances, basically requiring people to have a gun in their homes to defend themselves. Glenn writes:

Greenleaf [Idaho] is following in the footsteps of Kennesaw, Ga., which in 1982 passed a mandatory gun ownership law in response to a handgun ban passed in Morton Grove, Ill. Kennesaw’s crime dropped sharply, while Morton Grove’s did not.

To some degree, this is rational. Criminals, unsurprisingly, would rather break into a house where they aren’t at risk of being shot. As David Kopel noted in a 2001 article in The Arizona Law Review, burglars report that they try to avoid homes where armed residents are likely to be present. We see this phenomenon internationally, too, with the United States having a lower proportion of “hot” burglaries — break-ins where the burglars know the home to be occupied — than countries with restrictive gun laws.

Earlier this year I posted this video where some law enforcement officers from right here in LA stated that during the Rodney King riots the people who had guns and were able to defend themselves were not subject to the same looting and burning that happened to many others. So buying a gun isn’t a bad idea at all really. Of course, if you want to buy it and carry it, that’s a whole different story and not nearly as easy. Well, again, depends on where you live. If you live in any of the counties surrounding Los Angeles then it’s a fairly straight forward process. If you live in some cities within Los Angeles county then it’s a fairly straight forward process. If you live in most cities in Los Angeles county, or any of the unincorporated areas then you are totally out of luck, as existing law enforcement has decided that you don’t deserve the same rights, and aren’t as trustworthy as people who live a few miles from you in one direction or another. If you do want to buy a gun and you live in LA and need advice on where to pick one up, I’ve got a pretty solid list of great gun shops in the area. If you want to buy one to carry it, better check out the CA CCW forums for more info.

Law Enforcement on Concealed Weapons Licenses

Last year the Full Disclosure Network interviewed quite a few local (and not so local) law enforcement about their opinions on CCW (Concealed Weapons) Licenses and got some very interesting replies.

On the not so local take, Kansas just passed a “shall issue” law (the kind I’m always advocating here in CA) and the response has been extremely positive, and they have issued 3,000 licenses since the law went into effect on Monday. This is a good thing. This quote from the story I just linked makes the point I’m always ranting about:

“In order to qualify for that license you have to be a law-abiding citizen,” said Lawrence Police Sgt. Dan Ward said. “It’s not the law-abiding citizens that present problems to the officers. It’s the criminals, and those individuals will still carry guns with or without a license.”

Criminals already carry guns and clearly making that illegal doesn’t stop gun crime, what CCWs do is give law abiding citizens who have the proper training the ability to defend themselves and their families.

All California Starbucks are required by law to have public restrooms

dogsgottago.jpgMy local Starbucks (the one at Whitley Heights) has no bathroom. This is a problem for a place that offers wireless internet at $40/month (via TMobile) and serves caffeinated beverages. Even worse, there are no bathrooms within walking distance… the Whitley Heights Market next door serves pizza, there a Subway also in the same strip mall, and neither have a public restroom. The only public restroom nearby is at the sushi restraurant (who’s name changes so often I refuse to reference it), but its for customers only.

While complaining about this with friends, I learned this isn’t the only Starbucks in the city that lacks a bathroom. However, this is the one that frustrated me enough to look up if there were any local laws that might require public businesses to provide restroom facilities…

And what I learned may blow your toilet lid off: while city laws only require access to restrooms for the handicapped, State code DOES require local businesses of ALL types to provide restroom facilities for their customers. The problem is that its up to local authorities to enforce these codes, which it appears they have failed to do.

Details backing up this expose after the jump.
Continue reading All California Starbucks are required by law to have public restrooms