Some News on Front Sight and California Carry Initiative

UPDATE: It looks like all parties, including Piazza, have come to an agreement on this issue.

Just as a follow-up on my linking yesterday to Kevin’s review of Front Sight, a reader from the CalGuns Forum pointed me to this, which shows Piazza, Front Sight’s owner, is throwing his weight behind a highly flawed ballot initiative in California to get concealed carry.

I’ve taken a look at the ballot measure, and it is indeed bad:

(a) The applicant has no history of medically diagnosed mental illness requiring medication or admission into a mental institution.

So depression that an anti-depressant is prescribed for will disqualify you? Years ago they used to institutionalize homosexuals. Is that still disqualifying if you’re a gay old codger and want a permit?

(e) The applicant is not under investigation or indictment for any criminal activities.

Under what circumstances is an investigation disqualifying? If your spouse dies suddenly, the police may investigate you, to determine whether or not there’s foul play involved. They might know foul play isn’t likely, but it’s their job to be sure. Is this a disqualifying investigation?

(c) The applicant has no history of substance abuse.

So a recovering alcoholic on the wagon for years can’t get a license?

(d) The applicant has no history of domestic violence.

What kind of history? What if they were the victim? This whole initiative reeks of someone who doesn’t know how to carefully draft legislation. Plus, I don’t know how ballot measures work in California, but here voters typically only see a summary. In that case, why not be careful and make a good shall-issue bill? It looks to me like this was put together by rank amatures.

I’d note that it also requires training for every renwal, of up to eight hours. I’ll give you one guess why Piazza, who’s training facility is located just a few hours drive from Southern California, is getting behind this. My problem with Front Sight has never been that it’s bad training, my problem is with its proprieter, who’s always, in my opinion, come off as a shameless self-promoter. That’s certainly a crowded field in this issue, but Someone at CalGuns has another theory on why he’s backing this.

The big problem with this initiative, is that we’re screwed whether it passes or fails. If it passes, it will likely moot all the carry cases moving forward in the 9th circuit. We’d then be stuck on arguing the specifics of the measure, rather than California’s restrictive discretionary regime. That’s not a good place to be in. Courts are reluctant to twart legislators, let alone the will of the people, on an issue they are hostile toward to begin with. Ballot measures are also not fixable by the legislature; it takes another ballot measure to adjust language.

If this measure loses, the anti-gun crowd will point to it and say “See, the people have rejected even this modest bill. That proves that they reject the radical NRA agenda.” I should note that if I had to put money on it, I’d put money on it losing. I’d not take a bet, or would bet in favor of a ballot measure on this issue in many parts of the country, but not California. This is doomed, and it’s only going to hurt the movement.

UPDATE: It looks like all parties, including Piazza, have come to an agreement on this issue.

19 thoughts on “Some News on Front Sight and California Carry Initiative”

  1. A comment from the thread you linked nails it.

    It is VERY possible he wants to process these petition forms in order to do marketing to those people, which would be highly unethical at a minimum and illegal in a lot of states (dunno about California or Nevada).

    Probably not illegal, and only semi-unethical in the marketing world, but that’d be my bet as to why he is backing this initiative.

    1. My recollection from working on California initiative campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s is that it is unlawful to copy the information from initiative petitions for any other purpose.

      1. Yeah, that’s on the right track, and based on my knowledge of CAN-SPAM, you can’t market to that list with a commercial offer (nor link back to a site with offers. Piazza’s gonna have fun getting around THAT one: His whole site is one big sales pitch.


        You can update them with “relational” or transactional emails about specific things: Account status, receipts, that sort of thing. He can email the signees about the petition and what Front Sight is doing on it and that will get his brand out there to them, plus use his support of this to get more people from Cali in to Front Sight.

  2. California gives voters the full text of initiatives, and usually some legal commentary from someone for and someone against. Whether voters read any of that is a separate issue. But in CA, ANYONE with enough signatures on a petition can get a ballot measure, well-written or otherwise. There was a case a few years ago where the original sponsors of a ballot measure withdrew their support for their own poorly-worded measure when another group sponsored a similar but better-written measure.

  3. “Years ago they used to institutionalize homosexuals.”

    Can you give me a source for this? Until DSM-III, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder, but not a psychosis. Mental disorders alone were not a basis for institutionalization.

    1. Mostly antecdotal, but I did find this here:

      The first real attempt at organizing for political purposes was Henry Gerber who arrived in the U.S. from Germany in 1913. In 1917 he was briefly institutionalized in a mental hospital for homosexuality (the common fate of many gays) but nevertheless served in the U.S. Army during World War I, mostly in the army of occupation in Germany.

      But I would note, the Nazis institutionalized gays, and the Soviets often institutionalized dissidents, and the language in question doesn’t limit solely to commitments or treatments under California laws, or the laws only of American states. Technically, someone institutionalized as a dissident in, say, North Korea, would be disqualified.

      1. I notice that it said “briefly institutionalized.” Temporary hospitalization for observation was pretty common. Institutionalization was seldom done “briefly” in that era. Oddly enough, in all the digging that I have done about institutionalization in that period, I have not found a single reference to sexual deviants being institutionalized. They were usually sent to prison (since sodomy was a felony) if they came to the attention of the police.

    2. A little Googling found one article mentioning it as recently as the 1970’s (anecdotal evidence), and an academic paper stating “In some instances, parents cannot cope and seek outside, psychiatric “help,” including involuntary commitment, to transform their child into one who adheres to the well-established gender system” and citing to “Miye A. Goishi, Note, Unlocking the Closet Door: Protecting Children from Involuntary Civil Commitment Because of Their Sexual Orientation, 48 Hastings L.J. 1141, 1153, 1163 (1997)” as a source.

      In England, Alan Turing was involuntarily “treated” (aka, chemically castrated) as an alternative to imprisonment for being gay.

      One problem in gathering evidence on this subject is that during the time when someone might have been involuntarily committed for being gay, homosexuality was also usually a crime (a felony in most states, I believe). Treatment submitted to as an alternative to jail time is often listed in court and health records as voluntary, even if it really isn’t.

      1. This might explain lack of discussion of institutionalization: prison took precedence for sexual deviance. Treatment as an alternative is “voluntary” in the sense that paying income taxes is voluntary: you can pay the tax, or go to jail. While psychiatry regarded homosexuality as a mental disorder, the law regarded it as a crime, and often a quite serious one. (As late as 1974, Maryland revised its oral sex statute to a $1000 fine–a lot of money back then.)

        Minors until the 1970s were subject to institutionalization on the parent’s authority on the theory that the parents are looking out for the interests of the child, and the child does not enjoy the due process rights of an adult. Doctors generally had to be involved in this decision; public mental hospitals were already quite crowded, and doctors were not interested in adding to the crowding.

    3. While I don’t have an exact source, during a history of psychiatry class in medical school, they did mention voluntary institutionalization along with ECT being used to treat homosexuality. The message was that psychiatry is a very dangerous thing to wield if used improperly.

      1. Of course, the society as a whole was in nearly unanimous agreement about homosexuality at the time. This was not just psychiatry, but the legal system, and popular sentiment across the world.

  4. This does seem like an initiative written by someone who does not fully understand what he is doing. There is specific language that could be copied from California Welfare & Institutions Code concerning mental illness commitment and from California Penal Code concerning domestic violence convictions that would be much clearer.

    1. He wants a requirement to train, but there does not seem to be anything there that is specific to Front Sight. He would benefit, I am sure, but schools training in Los Angeles or San Francisco would benefit far more.

  5. WRT to ballot measures passing, while I don’t know any details (it was before I returned to my home state) Missouri had one on CCW and it failed. Missouri is a very Purple state (voted for McCain by a very few votes), with the Kansas City and St. Louis inner cities balancing out the more conservative more rural regions, with my SW corner being ultra-Red due in part to some of it being culturally part of the South.

    Since you can’t gerrymander Senate and Gubernatorial races, I’d say California is a lot more Blue that Missouri and I wouldn’t be surprised if it failed. Especially if many gun owners refused to vote for it because it would not allow them to carry for bogus reasons. And I suspect one could make solid slippery slope arguments in this vein about longer term consequences if it passed.

  6. As a former resident of California (various places, but mostly LA) for a number of recent years, let me add some info about the CA Proposition/Ballot initiatives.

    – First, they are winner take all. You get the popular vote and you win. None of this crazy district counting or “electoral college” hooey – it is pure democracy 101. If you get one more “yea” vote than the “nay” votes…you win.

    – Anyone with enough time and money can do it. It takes about 500K signatures to get an initiative on the ballot; about 800K for an constitutional amendment. It takes an average of $2-3 per signature (estimate) depending on the issue. More popular issues are cheaper; more esoteric ones are obviously more expensive.

    – The full legislative text is published in handbooks that are sent to each registered voter a few weeks prior to the vote. In it is the full text of the initiative/amendment; one “legislative analysis (usually focusing on laws changed and any public costs involved and it’s reviewed by both sides before being published); and one “statement” from each side of the argument. If that sounds like a lot to read, it is.

    – You really cannot get something passed unless you spend big money on a campaign to make people comfortable with it. California voters will generally say no to initiatives they do not understand. Unions spent upwards of $50 Million getting a number of props passed to spend money for “infrastructure” projects. I seem to recall the upshot for them was $38 Billion, though…

    This is going nowhere.

    Some good can come from this. For one, the anti-rights crowd can shake a little knowing that we might have the gumption to pull something like this off. The last thing they want is for a pure democratic vote on the recognition of this right for themselves. Properly framed, such an initiative would be phrased to say “Do you recognize your own right to…”

    But not this one.

    Rumor from the Westward front is that some of the signature gatherers are folding up tables when these weaknesses are pointed out to them. Apparently they were over-excited and didn’t read it first.

    But while it lasts, I like the idea of Bloomberg worrying a little while.

  7. Piazza sent out an email this morning about the petitions being withdrawn:

    “Two days ago, I was invited to attend a meeting in San Jose, between Dave Clark, the proponent who wrote the California Shall Issue Concealed Carry proposition that we all have been successfully gathering signatures to place on the November ballot, and Gene Hoffman, a significant player in the California’s pro-gun movement.

    During the meeting, Mr. Clark was convinced to allow the current Supreme Court bound cases including Richards v. Prieto and Peruta v. San Diego to proceed toward a hopeful, successful conclusion, thus properly positioning California to gain Shall Issue Concealed Carry Status through the courts, instead of the ballot box.

    Mr. Clark agreed to withdraw his CA Shall Issue Concealed Carry ballot initiative this cycle to give the legal actions currently in progress an opportunity to succeed, but if not, he received the assurance that a UNIFIED California Shall Issue CCW will be targeted for the 2014 election cycle that ALL pro gun groups in California will support in placing on the ballot, and will work together to win. “

  8. The very first time I voted at 18 years old there a ballot initiative for school funding. It was defeated by a vote of 2/3rds of the people voting. Fights over right? The legislature turned around & renamed the initiative then passed it by a large margin of lawmakers. The bill was word for word. California state lawmakers were screwing us back then & their doing it now. If the carry initiative is voted in by the public the peckerheads in Sacramento are going to do what they want with it anyhow.

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