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The Justice Department says the Second Amendment is an individual right, but they qualify this by citing a need to enact gun control laws based on "compelling state interest." They say the right is "subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse." Do you believe that the restrictions endorsed by the Justice Department are consistent with the Framers' original intent for the Second Amendment?

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A Noble Effort
© 2000 by David Codrea

When Peter Pitchess was Los Angeles County Sheriff, his policy for issuing concealed carry weapons permits was pretty straightforward- he didn't, except, as noted by successor Sherman Block, "for judges who express concern for their personal safety. In special circumstances, the request of a public office holder would be considered. . . ."

This notwithstanding that the militia of the Second Amendment was defined by framer George Mason to be "the whole people, except for a few public officers."

It took Salute v Pitchess, a lawsuit filed by citizens denied a permit, to rule the Sheriff's policy a violation of California's Penal Code. In the words of the appellate court: "To determine, in advance that only selected public officials can show good cause is to refuse to consider the existence of good cause on the part of citizens."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Pitchess had experimented with and then discarded the practice of granting "badges to people simply because they are prominent because he believed it led to a 'lack of professionalism.'"

Fast forward to the present, and Sheriff Lee Baca. Outspokenly anti-gun where ordinary citizens are concerned, he recently established and then was forced to discontinue a "celebrity reserve" program, offered exclusively to those he deemed "prominent," and requiring significantly different qualifications than the reserve program ordinary citizens are eligible to participate in. Dangling the promise of a badge and a gun to such notable figures as Jay Leno and Steven Segal, who, to their credit, turned down the offer, Baca had nonetheless sworn in twenty lesser civic luminaries. And in doing so, precipitated a fiasco.

Depending on whose story you believe, less than a month after being sworn in, celebrity reservist Scott Zacky, 35, a scion of the Zacky Chicken empire, did or did not run out of his Bel-Air house in his underpants, did or did not yell "Stop! Police!", and did or did not point a gun with a laser sight at a couple on a date, causing them to flee in fear from the scene.

Mr. Zacky must now answer to firearms charges filed by the City Attorney. Sheriff Baca has yet to explain why a background check failed to detect a 1992 brandishing charge against his protégé resulting in a no contest plea and a 90-day house arrest sentence. Nor has he offered much in the way of explaining a second "Star Cop" recently arrested in an undercover money-laundering sting.

While the allegations against Mr. Zacky, if confirmed, demonstrate abominable judgement in terms of proper deployment of firearms, I have nothing against him personally. I suspect his company may produce fine chicken and that he may be a competent executive. But does anyone really think his "prominence" and resulting eligibility for the celebrity reserve unit was due to anything other than circumstances of birth?

Or consider two other members of Sheriff Baca's defunct elite corps, ironically, the grandchildren of Sheriff Pitchess, the man who would not issue ccw's! Again, by virtue of the accident of lineage, these heirs of a public official were deemed worthy of admittance to the fellowship, while we, of lesser birth, were not.

And what is hereditary privilege if not the discarded notion of divine rights? We rejected this concept when we kicked out the King, following a war that started when he sent his troops to disarm our forebears. As Thomas Paine noted in The Rights of Man, the idea of an hereditary ruling class is "as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet-laureate."

Our Founding Fathers articulated this conviction in the Declaration of Independence, with its assertion, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

They codified this doctrine in the Constitution, which states, "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States... [and] No state shall grant any Title of Nobility."

And California adopted these tenets in its state Constitution, which clearly declares "A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens."

Seems to me nobody passed the word on to the Lord High Sheriff.

For more empowering information and ammunition to turn people around regarding lawful gun ownership, go to To help fight a pro-freedom media campaign, go to CitizensOfAmerica. More of David Codrea's articles can be read on this web site by clicking here.

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Bitter things I write, because my soul is bitter for your sake, O' freedom. — Giuseppe Giusti (1809-1850)

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