NRA-ILA : L.A. County Carry Licenses Reserved for the Well-Connected

LA County Sheriff's Office Patch (courtesy

The NRA-ILA writes:

With 42 states and the District of Columbia now recognizing the Right-to-Carry, California’s retrograde may-issue Carry Concealed Weapon licensing regime is atypical. However, a recent state audit of three of California’s CCW license issuing authorities shows that Los Angeles County does operate much like another large jurisdiction, New York City, when it comes to granting licenses. That is, licenses are reserved for the well-connected and officials don’t bother to follow the rules when issuing them . . .

Under California law, a sheriff of a county may issue a CCW license to an applicant upon receiving proof,

(1) The applicant is of good moral character.
(2) Good cause exists for issuance of the license.
(3) The applicant is a resident of the county or a city within the county, or the applicant’s principal place of employment or business is in the county or a city within the county and the applicant spends a substantial period of time in that place of employment or business.
(4) The applicant has completed a course of training as described in Section 26165.

Statute does not further define “good moral character” or “good case,” which gives a local sheriff’s department significant discretion to determine the criteria necessary to acquire a permit in their jurisdiction.

LA County Sheriff Lee Baca shows firearms contempt (courtesy

Los Angeles County has a written Concealed Weapons Licensing Policy that elaborates on what the sheriff’s department considers sufficient “good cause” to merit a license. The policy states,

good cause shall exist only if there is convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, his spouse, or dependent child, which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources, and which danger cannot be reasonably avoided by alternative measures, and which danger would be significantly mitigated by the applicant’s carrying of a concealed firearm.

Moreover, the policy makes clear that “No position or job classification in itself shall constitute good cause for the issuance, or for the denial, of a CCW license.”

It is exceedingly difficult for a law-abiding citizen to meet Los Angeles County’s criteria for a CCW license. Los Angeles County has issued 197 licenses to its 10.2 million residents. This works out to about 1 license for every 50,000 residents.

The audit, conducted by the California State Auditor, researched samples of 25 CCW licenses issued by three sheriff’s departments, Los Angeles County, Sacramento County, and San Diego County.

For Los Angeles, the auditors concluded that the county “did not completely adhere to its policies when issuing any of the 25 CCW licenses we reviewed.” The researchers also determined, “Los Angeles issued all but one of these licenses without the level of documentation it expects to demonstrate that the applicant has met the good cause requirement.”

Rather than require the level of documentation for “good cause” outlined in their policy, Los Angeles County simply granted licenses to the well-connected. The auditors found the following,

22 of the 25 CCW licenses we reviewed were issued to applicants with professions that connected them to the law enforcement community: the individuals were former or current law enforcement officers, judges, court commissioners, retired federal agents, and deputy district attorneys.

In fact, we found that of the 197 licenses that Los Angeles had issued that were active as of mid-August 2017, only nine were issued to applicants outside of that community.

As pointed out earlier, Los Angeles County’s written policy states that “No position or job classification in itself shall constitute good cause for the issuance, or for the denial, of a CCW license.”

California Concealed Carry Permit for judges (courtesy

The auditor’s report shares the story of a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who did not provide information of a personal threat to his safety on his license application, as required under county policy. This judge was granted a license.

The report then contrasts this case with that of a worker who stated that he wanted a license because “he worked in undesirable and remote areas and carried large amounts of cash.” This individual’s application was denied. The audit report called Los Angeles County’s practices judging “good cause” for issuing licenses “inequitable.”

The auditors also found that Los Angeles County failed to obtain requisite documentation concerning some licensees’ residency, “moral character,” and training.

In contrast to Los Angeles County, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has a more lenient policy concerning “good cause.”

At the direction of Sheriff Scott R. Jones, Sacramento considers self-defense or the defense of other sufficient to meet the “good cause” requirement. This has resulted in far more permits being issued in Sacramento County than Los Angeles County. With a population of 1.5 million, Sacramento County has 9,130 CCW license holders.

Sacramento County’s shall-issue carry regime is part of what prompted the state audit. In a letter responding to the auditor report, Jones explained that following the failure of legislation put forward by NRA F-rated Assemblymember Kevin McCarty that would have made it more difficult for ordinary Californians to acquire CCW licenses statewide, the Assemblymember targeted Sacramento and other shall-issue carry jurisdictions for retribution.

Jones’s letter notes, “Assemblymember McCarty threatened on social media on December 21st, 2016, to use the legislative audit function to intervene in my and others’ CCW permit processes because of his legislative failures. This audit is a consummation of that threat.”

However, the audit didn’t come to McCarty’s desired conclusions. The state auditor did not recommend that his legislation be adopted. Further, concerning Sacramento’s policy, the auditor report explained,

Although we believe the differences between Sacramento’s criteria for good cause and the criteria of the other two departments are most likely the reason for the higher number of licenses it issued during the period we audited, we cannot conclude that a higher rate of license issuance is necessarily a harmful effect of local discretion.

The California State Auditor’s office was right to describe Los Angeles County’s permitting procedure as “inequitable.” May-issue licensing regimes have always been ripe for this type of abuse. In the early 20th century, New York’s Sullivan Law was used to prohibit immigrants from owning handguns. In the 1950s, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was denied a carry permit in Alabama.

This year, officials from the New York City Police Department’s License Division were indicted on federal corruption charges for what amounted to selling handgun licenses.

Members of Los Angeles County’s law enforcement community should be able to exercise their Right-to-Carry for the defense of themselves and others. However, the county’s law-abiding residents should have that same opportunity.

Until California and the small handful of holdout jurisdictions join the 21st century and respect the Right-to-Carry, these abuses will continue. Of course, given ongoing federal litigation and legislative efforts on the Right-to-Carry, sometime soon the regressive politicians of these backwards enclaves may no longer have a say in the matter.


  1. avatar Nanashi says:

    “reversed for the well connected”

    Just like the NRA wants machine guns to be?

    1. avatar Ragnar says:

      I am an NRA Life Member. Are you implying that the NRA is going to give me a machine gun?

      1. avatar ai338 says:

        You got taken in and gave a large amount of money to them. That hardly makes you “well connected”.

        1. avatar Illinois_Minion says:

          I contend the NRA is well connected – to our money.

    2. avatar Ollie says:

      If you can’t afford the present cost of buying a machine gun, you probably cannot afford the cost of the ammo needed to feed it.

      1. avatar Nanashi says:

        The second amendment the NRA has betrayed is not for fun. Besides, 40 mag dumps of 22lr would cost 50 dollars. Hardly a fortune.

  2. avatar former water walker says:

    Wow that was long-winded. To sum up: California sucks. Them that HAVE get…

  3. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    well color me shocked!! To think that carry permits in a liberal utopia such as California’s Los Angeles county would be reserved for the wealthy and politically connected? My my what ever could happen next to shake my faith in progressivism? Next you’ll tell me all those social programs they want aren’t really free and in fact are an unfair burden on all working people in the state except for the obscenely wealthy whom mount their respective soap boxes to shout at the unwashed masses to adopt more and more socialist and communist ideals whilst never realizing that should such ideals actually come to fruition they themselves would lose their vast wealth to the masses just like everyone else.

    NOTE: This may or may not be sarcasm 50 years from now.

  4. avatar William Ashbless says:

    I live in Santa Clara County(Silicon Valley). The local sheriff does not give out permits unless you are associated with her Sheriff’s Advisory Board. This outfit is a volunteer organization that seems to generate money OUTSIDE normal channels and appears to be nothing more than a slush fund for the good Sheriff to use for her own political campaigning and more.

  5. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “The California State Auditor’s office was right to describe Los Angeles County’s permitting procedure as “inequitable.””

    Question – Since that report came from the ‘California State Auditor’, does this open the door to people denied permits to file a class-action lawsuit, especially since the report states :

    “Moreover, the policy makes clear that “No position or job classification in itself shall constitute good cause for the issuance, or for the denial, of a CCW license.”

    An equitable remedy to me would be, at the very *least*, revoking those permits or even better, demand shall-issue to all the lawful who apply for them.

    After all, it’s only fair, and demonstrates tolerance and inclusiveness, traits Leftists claim to be.

    Could this go somewhere, demanding they tolerate and include us?

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Heh, heh…
      Hee, hee, heh-heh (snort)….
      (Chuckle, wheeze) Haaaaa! Ha! Ha!!!

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      In Peruta v. Harris, the en banc Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that there is no right under the Second Amendment to a concealed carry license. The Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari. Thus, a CCW is a privilege, not a right, and under California law, the issuing agency (Sheriff or local Chief of Police) has nearly unfettered discretion to grant or deny a permit through its subjective evaluation of “good cause.” Proving “abuse of discretion” is a nearly insurmountable barrier. End of story.

      1. avatar FedUp says:

        Moore v Madigan and Wrenn v. District of Corruption both say we do have a (severely restricted) right to concealed carry.

        Apparently SCOTUS is perfectly happy with having one Constitution in effect on the West Coast and a different Constitution elsewhere.

        1. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

          Still, in the 2nd amendment. What part of “To keep and Bare arms” Doesn’t anyone understand? !

  6. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    “May Issue” never passes #TheBossHogTest: Would you want Boss Hog (from The Dukes of Hazard) to have this discretion?

    Maybe time for a reboot, “The Dukes of LA County.” Can you jump a Prius?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Before I took an arrow to the knee I bet I could have jumped a Prius. Or at least slid across the hood.

  7. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    Practically, this is where things like The Open Government initiative, and are useful. When we can see what’s actually going on, “cronyism” becomes an observation, rather than a claim.

    You’ll never persuade the unpersuadables on gun control, any more than you’ll shift the public position of paid shills, or grifters who’ve stumbled on the best con they’ll ever have.

    You can shift some people in the persuadable middle: the facts make the case more than gun rights people claiming what will happen. And when anti-gun folks pinky-swore this would never happen, the discredit themselves a bit (more.)

  8. avatar John Thayer says:

    Just make the criteria for:

    A. Voting
    B. CCW

    the same.

    Problem solved.

    (Imagine when all ~4,500 voters in New York City go to vote on election day)

    1. avatar The Dude Abides says:

      They can just make the voting place the welfare office, and kill two birds with one corrupt stone.

  9. avatar C.S. says:

    Political corruption? I expect nothing less from a slave state.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Jim Crow lives…in California.

    Whooda thunk it?

  11. avatar Mark N. says:

    I can understand issuing to judges–they have been targeted many times–but why to retired officers or federal officers? Don’t they get LEOSA and national right to concealed carry? Anyway, both the Sheriff and the LAPD Chief are convinced beyond any doubt that more guns means more gun crime, and the fewer the number of guns in civilian hands out in the street, the better. So, just as it is in Hawaii, they simply do not issue.

    As things stand under California right now, there is a right to bear arms–just not in any city, town or village. Open carry in the mountains and woods and on private property (open or concealed) is OK. The privilege of carrying (which can only be concealed) rests with a sheriff or police chief.

    1. avatar dph says:

      ” Anyway, both the Sheriff and the LAPD Chief are convinced beyond any doubt that more guns means more gun crime, and the fewer the number of guns in civilian hands out in the street, the better. ”
      I do not believe that they are convinced of any such thing, but they will do what their political masters tell them to do.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        The Sheriff has no political master except the electorate. He is independently elected and answers to no county board of supervisors (which is why the Sheriff of Sacramento County can issue CCWs on a “shall issue basis and neither the Board of Supervisors of Assemblyman McCarthy ( a former Supervisor) can do a damn thing about it). The Chief is appointed by the 100% liberal LA City council, but his ideology is set in stone. Both, which include the current Chief and the former Sheriff Baca, testified under oath to what I related. Neither could point to any statistical studies that backed their opinions. Both departments are notoriously corrupt.

  12. avatar Johnny108 says:

    In Sacramento County, the best way to get a Concealed Carry Permit is to show cause:
    You show it by donating $1,000+ to the Sheriffs’ re-election fund.

    No.. Not kidding

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      That’s a bargain compared to buying a hospital carry permit in Oakley, Michigan.

      OTOH, Oakley permit ‘donations’ went straight to the PD’s general funds, not to line any politician’s pockets.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      Bulloney. The Sheriff is not running for re-election. And there is no evidence that he ever had a $6,000,000 war chest for the 6000 permits issued. Somebody fed you a line.

    3. avatar SacCCW says:

      I have a Sacramento County CCW. I have never donated to the Sheriff’s campaign, nor do I have any personal or professional connection to him. The Sacramento County Sheriff has effectively made his county “shall issue” by interpreting the “good cause” requirement to include a generalized desire for self-defense.

  13. avatar Joe R. says:

    N O > = P I G S

    That said, our Jedi mind-trick to get your POS MFn (D) reps in a few target states to disarm you for the next civil war. It didn’t even cost us anything, they were morally deficient satanist MFrs that were only too happy to do it, and their constituents were strangely too happy to comply.

  14. avatar 300BlackoutFan says:

    It was asked earlier if a class action suit could follow from this. I believe that it has merit, but for a different reason.
    Anyone who has attempted to obtain a CCW in CA and was denied, and later some harm (up to and including death) occurred as a result of the ‘good need’ provided in the original CCW would have fair standing.. After all, the criteria is:
    good cause shall exist only if there is convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, his spouse, or dependent child, which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources and…..

    To me, this would indicate that law enforcement explicitly FAILED to deal with the stated problem, and therefore, they should be liable for any consequences.

    Sure, it won’t happen, I get that.

  15. avatar Philthegardner says:

    How many times do we keep hearing about those fruity nuts in Kali wanting to secede? I think they have the numbers anyway, so the question that begs to be asked is: WTH is taking you granola bars so long?!?!?
    The Big One that sinks your state into the sea seems to be coming later, rather than sooner so the peanut gallery has to be content with the promise of secession to make us feel better.

  16. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    Sure sounds like the definition of an “Authoritarian based Police-State .” What you would come to expect on the Left-Coast in KaliforniaSTAN, or behind the Iron Curtain in the Eastern Bloc Communist Police-States.” Such as, NJ., Massachusetts, Connecticut, NY., MD., DC., etc….So, again…What are “We the People ” going to do to set things right! Constitutionally speaking of course.

  17. avatar Libertarian says:

    I m more radical for me anti gun start here white the Alabama Sheriffs Association

    It s all about money and control so f*** any goverment !

  18. avatar Rick K. says:

    Gee, none of us who have ever lived in L.A. County ever knew this was going on.

    “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

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