Concealed Carry Reform Possibilities in California


Sean Bonner at blogging.la gives a hat tip to a proposed State Assembly bill to overrule local peculiarities in concealed carry permitting in California, the sort that allow local officials to keep you from getting a permit for largely whimsical reasons:

This practice breeds inequality and abuse by giving people who live in some parts of the state more state-wide rights than others and placing an insane amount of power in a single person's hands. And since individuals have different motives, the policy from one county to another is vastly different. Is it any shock that people who have contributed to the campaigns for many of these people have a much higher chance of receiving one of these permits? Luckily CA Assembly Member Knight is aware of this abuse and wants to stop it. He's introduced a bill called AB 357 [PDF link to the bill] which removes the authority of the individual Sheriffs & Police Chiefs in favor of a clear set of statewide guidelines. That's right, if this bill passes it will be a major step towards ending the good old boy, friends-only system currently on the books. 

Website of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

My book on constitutional law and weapon possession, Gun Control on Trial.


NEXT: Trade Policy Stinks (and Not in a Good Way)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. My prediction: No one can carry concealed in California. There, equality achieved.

  2. Speaking as a resident of California, this can’t happen soon enough.

    The notion that a citizen’s 2A right is subject to the whims of a Sheriff, or police chief is absurd.

  3. This is a really interesting development. The good clause requirement was one of those terrible amorphous concepts that basically allowed the local Sheriff/government to dictate policy as they see fit.

    Wish us Californians luck.

  4. Read that as “good CAUSE requirement”.

  5. This sounds like what happened in Virginia a few years ago.

    Now Virginia is almost outlawing smoking in restaurants, just like California, New York and other places.

    Is this the way karma is supposed to work?

  6. Any member of the legislature can INTRODUCE a bill — is there any chance at all that a liberal body like that will even hear the legislation, much less pass it?

  7. This bill has absolutely zero percent chance of passing.

  8. Gay marriage will be legal in Utah before this bill passes.

  9. Our pistol purchase permit system in NC is like that. Local Sheriffs all have different standards they apply to the process, and you can only apply for permits in your county of residence (they can be used anywhere in the state once obtained). In my county the application takes a couple of weeks, whereas I’ve seen advertisements for gun shows in other areas that advertise that the Sheriff will be on site issuing permits. There is a very specific reason why this law is the way it is- it is a Jim Crow law that has been on the books since the early 1900s. Local authorities could make up their own BS excuses to deny blacks the right to purchase pistols.

    Fortunately our CCW permit process is uniform across the state, is the “shall issue” variety, and if you get a carry permit you can completely bypass the purchase permit system.

  10. The newly appointed Sherrif of Orange County, CA tried to revoke all CCW permits after she took office. It raised quite the firestorm, and showed the disdain many in law enforcement have for the general public.


  11. AB 357

    How the hell did he manage THAT!

    This of course has absolutely zero chance of passing, but I still like that he proposed it.

  12. This would be nice in NY, too. Hopefully, it passes in CA and someone in NY introduces a similar bill. Or better yet, it fails in CA, and becomes a Supreme Court case…quickly while there’s a chance we can all get our 2A rights reinstated pronto.

  13. Bad idea. The statewide standards for issuance would eventually be set by the ninnies in SF and LA, and would be summed up as “impossible for anyone but Diane Feinstein to obtain.” As it stands now the smaller counties with enlightened sheriffs can issue permits on essentially a shall-issue basis, and do. A statewide law would effectively end that by applying LA standards to Modoc County.

  14. Some of you need to read the linked changes to the existing law.

    The bill removes the phrase “that good cause exists for issuance” and replaces the word “may” with the word “shall” in the same sentence.

    JLM is right in that this was written as a Jim Crow law to keep CCWs out of the hands of the “undesirables”. Yes, a 2nd Amend. case but also a 14th Amend. case.

  15. If this actually is a “shall issue” law, then of course it will be great if it passes. On the other hand, if it just shifts power to the state level, there is a huge downside. Under the present system, a person can run for sheriff on a shall-issue platform, as I tried to do in Santa Clara County in 2002. This way people at least have a chance to vote locally for their gun rights, giving them a way to overcome the anti-gun state-level politicians, if they win that local battle. With state-level control of permit issuance, that potential for locally empowered gun rights will be stripped away.

  16. shecky | March 16, 2009, 7:48pm | #

    Read that as “good CAUSE requirement”.

    I don’t know…I thought his name was Claus.

  17. I’m a native of Kalifornia. I will bet any amount of money this bill won’t get far. The only people who are allowed to have concealed weapons permits are anti-gun senators and their cronies. We are supposed to know our place and leave this kind of difficult decision to our betters.

    When you have cities like San Francisco passing unconstitutional ballot initiatives that completely ban all firearms you can’t really expect any progress in keeping our second amendment rights.

  18. From Section 1 of the Ky constitution:

    All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned:

    Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.

    Fortunately our state supreme court takes this literally. Also, our concealed carry laws are “shall issue” (although with some hoops to jump thru, but basically willingness to waste one saturday does it).

    The city of Owensboro tried to ban guns in their parks. The Supremes smacked them down hard.

  19. BTW, my reading of that section of the Ky Con seems like they said “screw incorporation, we can take care of this ourselves. And with a clearer version than the Feds wrote.”

  20. Sorry to drop out of my usual style, but . . .

    JLM is right in that this was written as a Jim Crow law to keep CCWs out of the hands of the “undesirables”. Yes, a 2nd Amend. case but also a 14th Amend. case.

    Wasn’t that made even more stringent in the 1960s after the Black Panthers marched through the Assembly chambers with shotguns overhead?

    Perhaps that was just a registration and open carry issue, not exactly the item you cite.

    Long after “Jim Crow” at least.

  21. Distain for centralized control applies to the state level as well. Being a Florida resident, many people in my area (South Florida) are quite discontent with the policy made in Tallahassee, as there a lot more distance than simply miles between the two…

  22. The Black Panthers stupidity caused the ban on open carry of loaded firearms (Cal. Penal Code sec. 12031). The current concealed weapon permit law was passed in 1923 as part of a package that was openly stated to be aimed at Chinese and Hispanics. See here for details and a link to the San Francisco Chronicle article stating this.

    And yes, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of this passing. There is enormous variation in carry permit issuance rates by county. See here for an analysis of the situation a few years back.

  23. Did anyone actually read the bill?

    It IS a SHALL issue bill.

  24. AB 357

    How the hell did he manage THAT!

    Its up there with the Texas concealed carry statute: 30.06.

  25. Didn’t know that about NC. I got a CCW (in NC) before even buying a handgun.

    It took FOREVER for the local CCW officer to find the time to even fingerprint me. Did not return multiple notes and calls when I first applied. I had to call again to find out where it was after I did all the paperwork, prints etc. I somehow got the feeling that the guy didn’t want to give it to me.

    If I had been in a position (DV victim) where I needed it, it would have been grim. And I would have been doing a sit-in in the police dept.

  26. I believe that 2004 was the year when they passed the law allowing NC CCW permit holders to bypass the purchase permit system.

    The CCW process seemed pretty routine in my county (New Hanover). They had certain times during the week where you could show up at the office with your paperwork and wait your turn to get fingerprinted. IIRC, there is some guarantee that there will be an issue or denial within 2 months, is there not? I recall that it took about a month and a half for me.

    As for being a DV victim, I think NC law allows a judge to grant you a permit in a hurry for this reason, but I don’t know how likely this is to happen. Waiting 2 months to go through the standard process certainly wouldn’t be a reasonable option in that case.

  27. In Los Angeles, it is my understanding that the cost is 5,000 dollars to the Sheriff’s reelection campaign.

    Lots of Hollywood types (Sean Penn, he of the angry rages, springs to mine) have carry permits. The rest of us, not so much.

  28. It’ll never pass in California. Like NY, CCW are reserved for celebs, big campaign contributors and of course, all manner of public officials (even tho most go in and out of guarded public buildings).

  29. I note with interest that the change was made to subsection A — and all the local sheriff would have to do is only present forms and other materials quoting subsection B ONLY to effectively stifle the new right.

    Of course, introducing bills which have no chance of passage for purely ceremonial purposes like getting endorsements and campaign cash from gullible people has a long history in both state and federal legislatures.

  30. In Texas the gun shops have a one-stop-shopping routine for CCL’s. We show up at 7:30 am to qualify on the range before the store opens at 9:00. Yes, we have to demonstrate that we can hit a target, but the passing standard is pretty low. After the range session, a retired Texas Ranger or DPS officer gives a lecture on the relevant laws for several hours, and then we take a multiple choice test on the laws. The course includes copies of the paperwork we have to fill out, and the store owner is the notary who signs the necessary forms. They also check over the stuff we filled out to be sure we got it right and do the fingerprints. In a few days we get the letter from the person running the course saying that we passed both the range session and the multiple choice test. We add that to the paperwork and fingerprints from the session at the store, put the whole thing into the addressed envelope (also provided by the store) and send it to Austin. Since Austin is currently overwhelmed with CCL requests, there is a bottleneck here, but we should get the permit in a couple months. It is good for four years.

  31. Not only will this bill not pass the Legislature, it will never be scheduled for hearing in the Public Safety Cmte.
    At best, it is a prelude to the introduction of an initiative to put this question on the State-wide Ballot, where it belongs.

  32. Unfortunately, comment #1 contains what I’d predict to be the result if this bill were to pass — Cali would be the first state to move to no-issue, across the board.

    Moreover, there is plenty of skullduggery going on around the current law as it is — see californiaccw.org for the deets.

  33. In Texas the gun shops have a one-stop-shopping routine for CCL’s…….

    I always liked Texas. I might just move there.

  34. The Dems in CA need Republican good will to pass their budget as demonstrated in the recent showdown. People on the concealed carry forum I frequent have been suggesting that this bill may be relying on that fact. I still wouldn’t give it too much chance, but the chances are better than none.

    Don’t write this off. We need to flood our Assembly and State Senate with support for this. Anyone who doesn’t live in CA … talk to your friends and relatives who do. If CA goes Shall Issue it will put tremendous pressure on those other states that are still holding out.

  35. If any other permit system in the U.S. produced the blatantly discriminatory results of most “discretionary” gun licensing schemes, every minority civil rights organization existing would bury it in lawsuits.

    But it’s acceptable to discriminate against blacks, womyn, Hispanics, the elderly, gays, Jews, and the poor in the name of gun control.

    After the range session, a retired Texas Ranger or DPS officer gives a lecture on the relevant laws for several hours, and then we take a multiple choice test on the laws.

    Actually, the vast majority of instructors (like me) are not law enforcement officers. The Department of Public Safety trains and certifies Qualified Handgun Instructors (including LEOs that want to teach it). The CHL new-license class must take ten to fifteen hours, and cover specific subjects, including firearm safety and non-violent conflict resolution.

    My class this Saturday is full, with 14 students.

    Sean Bonner at blogging.la gives a hat tip to a proposed State Assembly bill to overrule local peculiarities in concealed carry permitting in California,

    Note that a similar bill has been introduced in Illinois, one of the last two states without any concealed carry. (The other is Wisconsin, where the Legislature has passed shall-issue laws more than once, but not quite overridden the governor’s veto.

  36. California was recently ranked as 47th in personal freedoms of the States. First being the most free and 50th being a repressive regime (Maine owns that honor, barely beating out New York.) So, I’m not holding my breath for concealed carry in the Grate State of California, however desperately it is needed.

  37. We have a shall-issue CCW law here in NC, but so many exceptions were written into the law that it’s impossible as a practical matter to carry a handgun through a normal day without violating one or more of the exceptions. I put a lot of effort into persuading my local legislators to vote for the CCW law, but I’ve never bothered to get a permit. It’s just not worth it.

  38. If CA goes Shall Issue it will put tremendous pressure on those other states that are still holding out.

    NY, NJ, Mass and Hawaii?

    Most other states already ARE shall issue. CA is playing Mississippi on this one.

  39. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  40. You can also see the status of what is going on in CA concealed carry over at USA Carry

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.