As the first anniversary approaches of a U.S. Supreme Court decision which removed much of the discretion authorities enjoyed to reject requests for concealed carry permits, newly-released records show that San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto has issued three permits since.
The Sheriff received 118 applications since New York State Rifle and Pistol Assn Inc v. Bruen was decided – only a fraction of the applications received by Sheriffs of other populous Bay Area counties. Each permit took more than 300 days to be issued.
The relative complexity of the application process, and the slowness with which applications are progressed compared with some other jurisdictions raises questions about authorities’ willingness to issue permits at all.
Decided by the Supreme Court on June 23, 2022, the Bruen opinion held that New York’s requirement that CCW applicants demonstrate “proper cause” violated the Fourteenth Amendment. It acted to prevent law-abiding citizens wishing to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in self defense, it was said.
One day after the decision, the California Attorney General issued a ‘legal alert’ to permitting authorities stating that: “the Court’s decision renders California’s ‘good cause’ standard to secure a permit to carry a concealed weapon in most public places unconstitutional”.
Following this, issuing authorities in California were inundated with applications.
Where each Bay Area county stands
Several counties around the Bay Area have received significantly more applications than San Francisco, and several have been considerably more efficient at processing those received. We asked for details of applications from June 23, 2022 to May 7, 2023*.
In San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus received 1,484 applications for CCW licenses post-Bruen. Of these 491 permits have been issued and 42 have been denied – meaning 36% of applications have been finally determined. The Sheriff appears to have finally determined every application that was made in 2022.
In Alameda County, where Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez took office in January of this year, application data provided included all of 2022, not merely on and after the Bruen decision date.
A total of 2,071 applications were received from January 1, 2022 to May 7, 2023. In that same period 7.5% (156) applications were finally determined, with 63 permits issued and 41 denied.
In Santa Clara County 1,157 applications were received in the relevant period. Sheriff Robert Jonsen issued 20 permits (1.7%) in the same period which mostly comprised applications submitted pre-Bruen.
In November 2022 a civil jury found former Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith guilty of corruption and willful misconduct charges stemming in part from accusations that concealed carry permits were preferentially given to political supporters.
Notwithstanding that development, Santa Clara’s 1.7% determination rate suggests that non-politically connected applicants are still failing to receive proper consideration.
In Marin County, Sheriff Jamie Scardina determined and issued permits to 100% of the 62 applicants he received between the Bruen decision and May 7 this year.
Data disclosed by Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston showed only that 180 concealed carry permits had been issued post-Bruen. 639 permits in total are currently active.
The application process
The application process itself also varies markedly from county to county – with the San Francisco process standing out as by far the most onerous.
San Mateo county requires successful applicants to attend an 8-hour training class – a requirement that is typical for CCW-issuing authorities in California and out of state. These might normally include a significant amount of information on exercising good judgement and gun safety, in addition to spending some time demonstrating basic firearms proficiency.
San Francisco, on the other hand, requires applicants to pass the exact same marksmanship tests that deputy sheriffs must take. This includes ‘draw from holster’ and rapid fire shooting. However Bay Area gun ranges frequently forbid non-law enforcement staff from practicing either of these techniques – a fact known to the San Francisco Sheriff – which could leave some to conclude that Sheriff Miyamoto is placing untoward obstacles in the path of applicants.
San Franciscan applicants must also take a battery of psychological tests, concluding with an in-person interview with a psychologist.
The San Francisco Sheriff also restricts the firearms for which a permit can be obtained – disallowing, for instance, larger caliber revolvers. These leaves those San Franciscans wishing to obtain a permit to make traveling in the wilderness, in California and elsewhere, unable to be granted a permit to carry a weapon best-suited to those conditions.
* In some areas local police departments have or share responsibility for issuing CCW permits.
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