In the seven weeks since terrorists killed 14 people in San Bernardino, requests for concealed firearms permits have skyrocketed throughout the area, leading to crippling backlogs and massive delays at the public safety agencies that process applications.
San Bernardino County reported a nine-fold increase in concealed weapons applications in the month that followed the Dec. 2 terror attacks, and the surge continues. In Riverside County, the permitting process is so backlogged that it now takes a year-and-a-half to meet with an official to submit an application.
The spike is so pronounced that it has angered gun advocates and gun critics alike. To those who see the proliferation of firearms as a problem, another rush for guns is just the latest chapter in a tragically familiar story. To those who consider concealed weapons a constitutional right, government bureaucracy is paralyzing their best tool for self-defense.
“It’s ridiculous,” said John R. Lott Jr., a pro-gun academic with the non-profit Crime Prevent Research Center. “Most states in the country will get you a concealed carry permit within at least 60 days. What if you have a woman who is being stalked or threatened? What is she supposed to do — wait a year and a half just to get an appointment?”
The rush for concealed weapons began after Dec. 2, when a radicalized Islamic couple attacked a county government holiday party held at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S.-born county inspector, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani national, attacked the party with assault rifles and handguns, then fled the building, leaving behind a homemade bomb that failed to detonate. Police then tracked the couple to a home in nearby Redlands, leading to a car chase and gunfight that killed both suspects. The FBI is still investigating the mass shooting, but has called the attacks acts of terrorism.
The shooting location sits close to the border of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and officials in both counties said they saw an immediate rush for concealed weapons.
The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department received 75 applications during the weekend following the attack, when it normally averages 10. By the end of the month, deputies had received 750 applications, compared to a monthly average of 80, said Cindy Bachman, a department spokeswoman.
In Riverside County, the permitting process is different, so comparable statistics were not available. However, officials confirmed they are now scheduling application appointments as far out as 18 months. Previously, appointments have been set out eight to 10 months, said Capt. David Teets, who formerly led the department’s administrative division.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Teets said. “We have two folks who work in that department, and after the terror attacks, they were absolutely inundated with people wanting concealed weapons permits. We received hundreds of phone calls, voicemails and emails — likely upwards of one thousand in the two weeks afterwards.”
On Tuesday, Riverside Sheriff Stan Sniff said he could not speed up the permitting process without pulling deputies off patrol duties, which he was unwilling to do. Additional funding for more workers is unlikely because Sniff is embroiled in a budget battle with county leaders, who worry the sheriff’s department already absorbs too much money.
Delays have been less pronounced in San Bernardino County because Sheriff John McMahon reassigned several employees and a few volunteers to the permit processing unit. Still, appointments with applicants are being scheduled as far out as September.
“Eight months out is a long way for us,” McMahon said. “I just can’t put enough staff down there. I don’t even have enough staff, or workspace, to be honest with you.”
Although this surge for concealed carry permits is unprecedented in the so-called Inland Empire, it continues a well-documented trend in the American gun market, where mass shootings — and the resulting call for gun control — often trigger a rush to buy and carry guns.
A recent report by The New York Times revealed that December was second biggest month for gun sales in at least two decades. The only bigger month came after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.
People simply do not feel safe anymore and have no choice to defend their families because no one else can.
California Water Service Company officials have announced they will not be making any changes to the city’s current methods of disinfecting its water system despite outcry from a familiar environmental advocate.
“You may have heard reports that the City of Stockton plans to begin disinfecting its water with chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia commonly used to remove harmful bacteria,” city officials wrote in a release. “Please note that Cal Water’s Stockton District does not plan to make this change.”
Brockovich, who more than 20 years ago famously helped a Mojave Desert town win a lawsuit over contaminated water, even went as far as saying Stockton will become the next Flint, Michigan.
Stating Cal Water and the City of Stockton uses different methods of disinfecting its water from different sources, officials noted chloramine is a treatment method “when water sources have higher levels of naturally occurring organic compounds.”
Because Cal Water’s Stockton supply uses a combination of groundwater from its wells and surface water from Stockton East Water District (which comes from the New Melones and New Hogan Reservoirs east of Stockton), officials said its water supply have lower levels of naturally occurring organic compounds, rendering chlorine an effective disinfection method.
The Buffalo Bills made history on Wednesday when they hired Kathryn Smith as the team’s Special Teams Quality Control coach. Smith is the first-ever full-time female assistant coach hired by an NFL team in the history of the league. Kathryn Smith worked during the 2015 season with the Bills as an administrative assistant to Ryan, and has a history with head coach Rex Ryan as she worked the same position with the New York Jets alongside Ryan in 2014.
The Arizona Cardinals made history last season by hiring Jenn Welter as a training camp assistant coach last summer, but she was not brought on as a full-time coach for the 2015 season.
Rex Ryan applauded his newest coach saying, “Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff. She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities, and I just know she’s going to do a great job serving in the role of Quality Control-Special Teams.”
“Kathryn has been working in a football administrative role and assisted the assistant coaches for years. She has proven that she’s ready for the next step, so I’m excited and proud for her with this opportunity. She will work with Danny Crossman and Eric Smith involving a number of responsibilities.”
Smith will replace former Special Teams Quality Control coach Michael Hamlin, who was let go by the Bills after just one year with the organization.
Retail giant says more than 1.2 million U.S. hourly workers will get wage increases
Workers will also be able to accrue paid time off
Wal-Mart is largest U.S. private employer with 1.4 million total workers
Starting March 5, full-time Wal-Mart workers can carry up to 80 hours of paid time leave from year to year. That number will be 48 hours for part-time workers. Any unused hours at the end of the year above the limits will automatically be paid to hourly workers in the first paycheck every February. Previously, workers would just lose those days if they hadn’t taken them. Jae C. Hong AP
Wal-Mart is giving raises to the vast majority of its U.S. employees as part of the world’s largest retailer’s previously announced investment in its workforce. The move comes as it seeks to hold onto workers in an increasingly competitive market.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Wednesday said more than 1.2 million U.S. hourly workers will get wage increases on Feb. 20. The company, the largest U.S. private employer with 1.4 million total workers, also said it will provide free, basic short-term disability to full-time hourly workers. And it will start allowing workers to accrue paid time off as they earn it.
The moves mark the biggest changes Wal-Mart has made in its efforts to offer better wages and benefits to its workers. They come as company faces pressure from labor-back groups who have criticized the company for its treatment of its workers.
Last February, Wal-Mart announced that it would raise base employee wages for 500,000 workers to $9 an hour last year, with plans to move it to $10 per hour, next month. The company also said new entry level workers hired after Jan. 1, 2016 would start at $9 per hour, but move to at least $10 an hour after completing a six-month training program. Then last June, Wal-Mart said it would raise starting wages for more than 100,000 U.S. department managers.
In total, Wal-Mart’s CEO Doug McMillon said in October that last year’s investment in wage increases, along with improved training, cost $1.2 billion. McMillon also said the company expects to pump $1.5 billion in to its workforce this year, although at the time he did not give details.
Wal-Mart has maintained that if it keeps its workers happy, they will serve customers better. That will lead to higher sales. Retaining and attracting workers is critical as a stronger labor market increasingly offers workers more opportunities to jump around.
“The competition for talent is strong,” said Craig Rowley, global leader of consultancy Hay Group’s retail practice. “It’s strong because there are fewer people to hire.”
Rowley says the turnover rate – the percentage of part-time workers who leave within a year– is now 67 percent for the retail industry, up from 50 percent during the recession.
Wal-Mart has already seen sales perk up in its U.S. business as customer experience improves in the stores. But those investments are also coming at a cost to the business. Wal-Mart said last October that earnings for the year, starting next month will be down as much as 12 percent, in large part due to the investment in its workforce. But Wal-Mart has been willing to take a hit to the bottom line.
“We are very clear that if we make sure our associates are being treated fairly, if they are rewarded simply and clearly, we will have a better business,” said Judith McKenna, chief operating officer for Wal-Mart’s U.S. division.
As a result of the latest pay increase taking effect next month, the average full-time hourly wage at Wal-Mart stores will be $13.38, up from $13. For part-time workers, the hourly wage will be $10.58, up from $10. Last year, before the changes, the average full-time hourly wage was $12.85 and $9.48 for part-time. Wal-Mart declined to provide the average hourly wages for Sam’s Club workers.
Those wages for Wal-Mart stores are still below the $14.95 average that hourly retail workers in a non-supervisory role earn, according to government data that includes people who work at auto dealers and other outlets that would likely pay more than discounters like Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart’s entry level pay is above the $9.26 average hourly pay for cashiers and low level retail sales staff, according to the Hay Group’s survey of 140 retailers with annual sales of $500 million. The survey was conducted last summer.
Wal-Mart’s initial moves triggered complaints from workers who felt that the raises weren’t spread out evenly. Many of the new employees were getting increases in pay, making their pay closer to other workers who had been at Wal-Mart for a long time. The company acknowledged Wednesday that some employees were upset.
“We did hear from some associates who did feel left out last time, but we specifically did it to reward associates in a fair, consistent and transparent way,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg.
Here are more details of Wal-Mart’s plan:
Workers who are already earn more than $10 per hour will receive an annual pay increase in February rather than waiting until the anniversary date.
The company is also raising the starting rate of its non-entry level hourly pay bands. So specialists like deli sales associates will make between $10.50 and $18.81 per hour, up from $9.90 to $18.81. Workers at or above their pay band maximum will automatically move up to the new minimum.
Workers who are at or above their maximum pay band will get a one-time lump sum payment equal to 2 percent of their annual pay.
Starting March 5, full-time workers can carry up to 80 hours of paid time leave from year to year. That number will be 48 hours for part-time workers. Any unused hours at the end of the year above the limits will automatically be paid to hourly workers in the first paycheck every February. Previously, workers would just lose those days if they hadn’t taken them.
Wal-Mart is offering a short-term basic disability plan for workers who need to be away for an extended time. Effective Jan. 1, the plan will pay 50 percent of a worker’s average weekly wage, up to $200, for up to 26 weeks.
Wal-Mart is also enhancing its short-term disability plan, which now will cost less than the company’s prior voluntary plan and provide more coverage. Workers will receive up to 60 percent of their average weekly wage with no weekly maximum for up to 26 weeks. Prior to that, the figure was 50 percent.