Concealed carry weapon permits are issued by Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, who lost re-election in June. Bolanos has been the top law enforcement officer in the county since 2016.
According to public records obtained and analyzed by the I-Team, the majority of people who applied for a license under Sheriff Bolanos didn’t get one. Roughly a quarter of applicants did.
“Application was denied,” said David Lipin, a 25-year veteran disaster response worker.
Lipin lives in San Mateo County. He says he applied for a license after being threatened by looters while responding to natural disasters like the 2018 Camp Fire.
“Do you know why?” ABC7’s Stephanie Sierra asked.
“I didn’t get a reason, they just said no,” Lipin said.
“How many references did you have?” Sierra asked.
“I had a half a dozen references from police officers, sheriff deputies and people I work with in disaster response,” said Lipin.
The ABC7 News I-Team found most people who applied for a license and who contributed to Bolanos campaign got theirs approved. While it’s a small group, some critics are raising questions about potential favoritism in the process.
Public records obtained and analyzed by the I-Team from 2018 through 2021 show among non-donors who applied for a new license, 65 out of 295 were approved. That’s about 22%. Whereas, among donors, 14 out of 16 were approved. That’s around 88%. …
Several people working inside the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office told the I-Team they’ve felt pressured by Sheriff Bolanos and other high-ranking staff to issue concealed carry weapons licenses to people who were friends or donors to his campaign. The I-Team made several attempts to speak directly with Bolanos, but he declined to go on camera for an interview. He provided us with the following written response denying any allegations of favoritism.
— Stephanie Sierra, Lindsey Feingold and John Kelly in San Mateo Co. Sheriff Criticized for Potentially Favoring Donors When Issuing Gun Permits