Federal Court Ruling Opens California Floodgates for Concealed Weapon Permits

Friday, February 28, 2014

Two weeks after a federal appeals court whacked California’s concealed weapon law, hundreds of permit applicants have inundated sheriff’s departments in the counties of Orange and Ventura.

More than 500 people in O.C. applied for permits since the February 13 ruling (pdf) by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That exceeds all the county permit requests in 2013. Ventura County Sheriff’s Captain Don Aguilar told Fox News he couldn’t say how many applications had recently been submitted. He said the county approved 418 of 531 applications received in 2013.

The applicants aren’t waiting to find out if an appeal filed Thursday by California Attorney General Kamala Harris is successful. Harris asked (pdf) that the decision be reviewed by the entire 11-member appellate court. The court ruled that California’s gun law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment by requiring that an applicant show “good cause” to carry a gun. Counties had been free to interpret what “good cause” meant in implementing the law.

Harris said the result could be that the only requirement an applicant would have to meet is a stated desire for self-protection. The state law gave counties latitude to determine their own rules for issuing permits, and San Diego County’s was challenged in court. The county lost, but decided not to appeal, so the state asked to intervene in the case.

A spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) ridiculed Harris for coming late to the party, noting that she declined to participate in the San Diego case and others when county restrictions—especially tough ones like in San Francisco—were prevailing in courts. “But now that her ideological ox is being gored, she wants to step in and take the state authority away from the sheriff,” West Coast NRA counsel Chuck Michel told the San Jose Mercury News.

Ironically, the surge in permit applications means that applicants will have to wait a lot longer to receive approval. Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jeff Hallock told the Orange County Register that it would take six or seven months to process an application, while it used to take less than a month. The county Board of Supervisors is considering giving the department extra money to hire additional staff.

Although applicants no longer have to give a reason for requesting a permit, they still must pass a background check, complete a weapons safety course, be at least 21 years old, pay associated fees and be of “good moral character.” About one-fourth of applicants in the two counties failed those requirements last year.

California is one of eight states that allow local governments to deny concealed-weapons permits. Because the appellate court ruling is not final, Orange County is still requesting applicants to submit a “good cause” explanation of why they need to carry a gun.

But if Harris is unsuccessful in her appeal, that won’t be necessary.

–Ken Broder 


To Learn More:

Concealed-Weapon Permit Applications Flood O.C. Sheriff's Department (by Salvador Hernandez, Orange County Register)

Attorney General Kamala Harris Appeals Federal Court's Concealed-Handgun Ruling (by Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News)

Surge in Concealed Weapon Permits Follows California Court Second Amendment Decision (by Joshua Rhett Miller, Fox News)

O.C. "Inundated" with Hundreds of Concealed Weapons Applications (by Jill Cowan, Los Angeles Times)

Federal Appeals Court Rejects California’s Concealed-Gun Law (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Appeals Ninth Circuit Concealed Weapons Permit Ruling (Office of the Attorney General)

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office License to Carry Weapons Policy (pdf)

Petition for Rehearing or Rehearing en Banc (U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) (pdf)

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