Sara Tipton Passes Her Silly, Unnecessary, Unconstitutional California Concealed Carry Renewal Test


On a blisteringly hot Saturday in June in California, I made my way to my concealed carry class in my Jeep, top off, enjoying the wind on my skin. I was happy that the sunglasses I wore effectively deflected the wind from my left eye. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I spent four hours of it indoors learning the new California gun laws; most of which are hypocritical and contradict another law that the politicians here are to moronic to scratch out before writing more . . .

My instructor, from Sagebrush Firearms, was incredibly kind. He even asked to handle my revolver. He explained that instructors now need to have a “handlers license” in order to touch a student’s firearm. And this awesome new special license that somehow has the  magical powers of unicorns and glitter, must be renewed once a year for $20.  Talk about hampering a man’s business.

When I got done learning even more fascist and idiotic gun laws the Golden State legislature passed in the last two years, we walked the 400 yards to the shooting range. The whole way there, as my instructor talked, I hoped my eye would be OK. That I could do this. Without missing. Missing means more time. More ammo. More pain in my eye. Failure. Disarmament.

He set up my target and said “anytime you’re ready, Sara.” And I fired. And again. And again. Honestly, I didn’t look for my hits or misses. I focused on the target as the wind picked up and watered my eye. I focused on the center of the target as I could feel the sweat drip down my back in the 100 degree heat of the California desert.

I drove 35 minutes from the mountains to get here. This was it.  The rest is almost a blur of nervous energy and anticipation. And hope. I hoped I did ok. The test requires 48 rounds.  If you miss, you shoot ten more until you have a 90% hit ratio. He brought my target back to me. At 15 yards, I missed one. One. I took of my glasses, wiped my eye and thanked him.

As I was driving home in my Jeep, jamming to Metallica, feeling the sun on my shoulders, I couldn’t help but smile. I had overcome. I did something that I was not sure was possible after not even being able to use an eye for ten days. I passed. Not perfectly, but better than I could have imagined. On Monday, I’ll be taking my paperwork to the sheriff to get my permit renewed for another two years.

It was a silly, unnecessary, unconstitutional process for sure, but liberating nonetheless.


  1. avatar JWM says:

    Glad you passed. Whole heartedly agree with the whole unconstitutional aspect of the process.

  2. avatar 2AMexican says:

    Congratulations on passing under less than desirable conditions. Hope your eyes recovers fully.

    1. avatar Other Tony says:


    2. avatar Jim in San Antonio says:

      “Congratulations on passing under less than desirable conditions.”

      Did you mean her eye, or being a resident of California?

      1. avatar 2AMexican says:


  3. avatar Taylor TX says:

    “that instructors now need to have a “handlers license” in order to touch a student’s firearm. ” WTAF…
    I guess the fact that his profession is firearms instruction wasnt enough qualification haha unicorns and glitter indeed.

    Grats on passing, glad the eye wasnt too much of a hindrance.

  4. avatar Another Robert says:

    There’s that Mona Lisa smile 😉 Glad you’re doing better Sara, best wishes for continued recovery.

  5. avatar JWM says:

    Is that a model 85 taurus you’re holding?

    1. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

      Looks like it to me.

      Love the 85. How about a review of the current model, eh TTAG? The only review on here is of a late-80s, early 90s version.

    2. avatar Art out West says:

      I thought it looked like a Rossi 461.

      Sara, I thought you were an XD fan.

      Is Cali one of the silly states that only permits you to carry certain guns specifically listed on your permit, and makes a difference between revolvers and semi-autos?

      1. avatar BobS says:

        Yes, by serial number.

      2. avatar Sara T. says:

        I qualified with my Taurus snubnose .357 and my Springfield XD .40. Thoseare the only two I’m “allowed” to carry.

        1. avatar JWM says:

          The last .357 I owned was a taurus. Model 65, I believe. Sweet shooter.

        2. avatar Art out West says:

          So it is a Taurus, not a Rossi .357. I’ve got the Rossi, and it rotates with about a half dozen other carry guns (glad WA doesn’t require specific guns be listed, and no requirement for classes or proficiency testing either). Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It helps motivate us to stay diligent to avoid stupid laws.

  6. avatar J-El says:

    Huh? I’ve never heard of a “handler’s license” requirement in California. California law only bans “prohibited persons” from possessing firearms. Why would an instructor, even one certified by the DOJ, be forbidden from handling a firearm as long as he or she is not a prohibited person?

    California does require instructors to be DOJ-certified to administer state-required Firearm Safety Certificate tests prior to transferring either a handgun or long gun. Any FFL can administer the required Safe Handling Demonstration. Info here:

    Then again, California’s firearms laws are complex, unclear and confusing…

  7. avatar Siris says:

    Next thing you’ll see is the army needing permits to handle pvt’s rifles.

    So if I get pulled over in Cali and the cop touches my pistol, can I sur if he doesn’t have a handlers permit?
    Or will I get arrested for letting a cop touch my gun without a permit?

    God bless Alabama
    Slide fires and supressors for all
    Open carry is legal
    30rd mag for glock’s are cheap
    We can’t find those pesky “overpenerating” hollow points anywhere, but plenty of RIP rounds to go around.
    And tannerite by the 2lb. Tub at Academy.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      You can expect anything in Komifornia!

  8. avatar barnbwt says:

    I can sort of relate to Sara’s misery; my course for TX CHL was on one of the cold, rainy, windy, below freezing days we had an abundance of this winter, and we had to load mags in 1’s, 2’s, and 5’s for the course of fire. Couldn’t feel my fingers by the first set, and after the second everything hurt, was soggy, numb, or getting misted on (glasses/eyes). Cold weather messed with the grease in my pistol, causing frequent misfires, and managed to bruise my thumbs loading because of numb fingers using too much force. I could have cancelled and rescheduled, but figured I see just how poorly I’d do. Miserable, but personally informative.

    Sometimes it is worth doing things specifically because they are difficult. Get well soon.

    1. avatar Taylor TX says:

      Stories like this continue to make me thankful my CHL class was at an indoor range.

      1. avatar CM says:

        Stories like this make me glad I live in a state that doesn’t require any testing for a CPL. WA of all places. Pay the fee, scan your prints, off you go.

        1. avatar Erik says:

          + 1 Kitsap county had my license in the mail four days after I spent ten minutes applying

        2. avatar Dan A says:

          Oregon here. A short safety class fulfills the training requirement, no actual shooting. I always find it amusing when people from other “gun friendly” states think they’re hot shit but have more onerous restrictions than I do here.

        3. avatar barnbwt says:

          Give Oregon time, there is no longer anything to stop the slide, there. UBGCs are just the beginning; expect an AWB or mag ban in the next five years.

  9. avatar neiowa says:

    You seem to be a bright young lady. Leave the land of marxist fruits and nuts for the real world.

  10. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Way to go Sara!

  11. avatar anthony says:

    Sara, just think of it this way: you are now qualified to use deadly force even in the presence of an impairment to your eye, should it happen again. Good for you 🙂

  12. avatar TxDuallyDog says:

    Sounds like the ride home was the most enjoyable part of the day ,jamming to Metallica . Glad you passed

  13. avatar Fed Up says:

    So, what’s the point of the test, to make sure if you’re old and infirm enough to REALLY NEED the equalizing value of a firearm, you can’t have it?

  14. Why does Sara still live in CA? Why doesn’t Sara move to a more friendly place? Any place she moves will also be a lower tax state as well.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    I made my way to my concealed carry class in my Jeep, top off, enjoying the wind on my skin.

    You’re lucky to live in Cali. In some places, it’s illegal to drive with your top off.

    1. avatar Timmy! says:

      I was going to ask why she put the top back on for the photo but didn’t want to be “That Guy.” Thanks Ralph for going there!

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Well, somebody had to do it.

        1. avatar Tom396 says:

          I just assumed it was a trap.

  16. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Why do I get the feeling that California cops don’t have to hit 90% at 15 yards?

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Ours requires 100% hits at 15 yards. Anything outside the hit zone requires remediation. It’s a pretty easy course of fire. I honestly don’t recall if the max distance is 15, 20, or 25 yards. We only Qual once / year so I don’t remember.

      1. avatar Gatha58 says:

        Qualified for the Nevada CCW (or whatever it is called there). First they move the target almost where you can touch it. Then you have to shoot with one hand and then the other. IOW you have to show you can shoot with your off hand as well as the one you normally use. Which seems rather odd. After that they move the target out a bit further and you shoot again. Really not hard to qualify. I think if you fail they let you try again until you get it right. Been a while so I don’t remember all the specifics. Maybe someone that lives in NV can chip in ? Overall that and the classes were pretty easy to pass. I liked the classes and the live fire. Mainly because I think it makes sense to show you can handle a firearm, know the safety rules and the legal implications of shooting someone. Also when it is legal to shoot and when it is not. Some of what we learned could save my bacon someday.

        1. avatar Cliff H says:

          Must be a while since you got your permission slip.

          Took the (unconstitutional) required training last January at The Range 702 in Las Vegas. Charge for the class: $0.00. Charge for including the certification to get a Utah out of state permit: $51.00.

          While I disagree with requiring training before you can exercise a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right, the information in the class was useful in keeping me informed of stupid gun laws and restirctions as well as who, when and why I could legally shoot (at) someone.

          The qualification could be called a joke, but the real joke was how many people were there who could just barely manage to qualify, and the standards are not very tough. We fired 30 rounds total. Five at 3 yards, 15 at 5 yards and 10 at 7 yards. I could have thrown the rounds and hit within the 9 ring. As it was I had a flier and scored 298 out of 300. Others did not do as well and many targets looked like they were qualifying with a shotgun!

          I would like to think there was some way to get people who want to carry a concealed weapon to improve their skills, but outside of peer pressure I can’t come up with a solution, since it is none of the governments GD business to tell you if you are or are not qualified to exercise your RKBA!

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Cops have to hit 90% of bystanders at 15 yards.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Well, when cops miss it gives lawyers such as yourself all sorts of gainful employment opportunities.

      2. avatar Refugee camp occupant says:

        No, you mean 100% of dogs at 15 yards.

        1. avatar FedUp says:

          No, 50% dogs, 5% your own foot, and 10% the dog’s owner’s head.

  17. avatar Erik says:

    This woman has to be a plant, in her earlier post her ccw license said Lassen County, it you can’t get anywhere from anywhere in Lassen Co in 35 minutes 😉

    1. avatar Sara T. says:

      I can drive an hour and still be in Lassen County. I live in the mountains. Standish is is the desert. I’m no plant. I’m a California gun owner….I know, that sounds crazy right there. 😉

      1. avatar Erik says:

        I was making a joke, I’ve been to Lassen County many times, In a previous life my work took me from Oregon to Reno, US-395 through Alturas, to Likely, over the county like though Madeline, Ravendale, to Susanville then by Honey Lake to the Nevada line, it always seemed Lassen Co took forever.

        Fun fact, initially Nevada claimed Lassen Co until the Feds sorted it out t CAs side of the line, bummer for Lassen Co gun owners

        1. avatar IdahoPete says:

          When I was a prisoner-at-large in the PRCa, I lived in Lassen County. Nice part of the world, if it wasn’t in California. Everything from the high Sierras to the desert valleys running into Nevada. If that lazy VonSchmidt (surveyed the state line in 1872) hadn’t decided to run the state line due north from Lake Tahoe (instead of up the spine of the Sierras), that whole part of the PRCa would have been in Nevada, and I might still be living there.

          Congrats, Sara, and I hope your eye heals up. I also hope you can eventually escape from the PRCa, like I did – if so, give Idaho a look. Our legislature has a Republican supermajority in both houses, and all of our statewide elected officials are Republican. We welcome California escapees who do NOT want to turn the state into California.

  18. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    “When I got done learning even more fascist and idiotic gun laws…”

    I am beginning to think being elected to CA Legislature or holding any statewide elective office in CA should be considered a felony and as soon as their term in office is done they should be required to report to prison to begin their other term.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Yup. Like Leland Yee.

  19. avatar Wiregrass says:

    Glad you got past the renewal test Sarah and I hope you are fully healed soon.

  20. avatar moocow says:

    What happened to her eye?

    1. avatar Johnny Cronin says:

      She shot it out.

  21. avatar The Real Paul McCain says:

    Good job Sarah

  22. avatar Terrence Maguire says:

    Congratulations Sara! Hope you never have to use it. We qualified outdoors in NM in the spring with wind blowing sand in our faces. Funny stuff but only seven yards so not as bad. Maybe someday the national reciprocal thing will catch on or maybe Cali will elect a bunch of republicans.

    1. avatar Gatha58 says:

      Was thinking they did elect a Republican Governor but then I thought again and Schwarzenegger was a pretty darn liberal Republican so maybe he does not really qualify.

  23. avatar Operator says:

    That hit ratio is probably better than 99% of cops there. Definitely better than most NY cops!

  24. avatar Scot says:

    California Firearms Safety Certificate instructors must now have a Certificate of Eligibility, renewed every year.

    1. avatar J-El says:

      C of E is not a “handler’s license,” nor does it authorize an instructor to handle a student’s firearm, as there is no law preventing anyone who is not a prohibited person from handling someone else’s firearm as long as the owner is present. Loaning someone a firearm requires that the recipient not be a prohibited person, and that the recipient have a current Handgun Safety Certificate (if a handgun) or current Firearms Safety Certificate (if a long gun).

      A C of E might be required by the DOJ to administer the FSC test, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. C of E is just a pre-check of the same test they do during the DROS check.

      I think someone misled Sara’s CCW instructor.

  25. avatar Gatha58 says:

    Sarah, read through your article twice and still did not see what was wrong with your eye ? Want to confess or did you mention it and I missed it ?

  26. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “He explained that instructors now need to have a “handlers license” in order to touch a student’s firearm.”

    Say, what?

    Was there a problem with firearm instructor spree killers?

    Someone, *please* clue me as to *why* that law was necessary.

    1. avatar Sian says:

      Because LOOK AT THIS BABY

  27. avatar Cody says:

    Sorry, I understand the whole, constitutionally given right thing. Though, honestly, the vast majority of people I’ve met who say that don’t know the first thing about the history of gun laws in this country before and after the constitution, but I digress. Anyway, I get that, but I still think live fire requirements are a good thing. I mean, how many times have we gone to the range and seen that guy who just turned twenty-one, things he’s all bad ass with his new chromed up glock or what have you, flinging rounds down range without so much as scaring the paper target? Now, imagine he’s throwing rounds in a crowded area because he decided to get a carry license and no one took the time to make sure he could actually hit the broad side of a barn while standing inside it. That’s not a danger I want to face. And, I’m saying this as a totally blind person with a concealed weapons license who had to go through a live fire test. You wanna compare eye problems messing with the test, I bet I’m gonna win. Hell, I have to get one witness to read the paperwork, and two witnesses to witness the guy reading the paperwork just so I can buy a gun. So, yes, we have the right to keep and bear arms, but the constitution, if you read that first little part and not just snippets from the NRA website, also says that the government was formed to insure security. I think this falls under that purview.

    1. avatar Sian says:


      security is one thing, requiring a de-facto yearly tax and proficiency tests in order to exercise a right is another thing entirely. It is an undue burden with no proven benefit.

  28. avatar UpChuck.Liberals says:

    Sarah, did you have to make a ‘donation’ of $10k like is ‘suggested’ in Santa Clara County to Sheriff Laura Smith’s re-election fund. To be honest I haven’t tried to get a CCL here so I can’t say for sure this is what’s happening. I’ve heard this 2nd hand from some usually reliable connected sources.

  29. avatar PeterK says:

    Awesome job! Sorry it was such an ordeal.

  30. avatar Gman says:

    Does anyone else see the irony in the accuracy requirement? California wants to make sure that if you have a permit, you are accurate enough to kill? Or are they simply trying to make the accuracy requirement another method of stopping more people from owning and carrying firearms?

  31. avatar Sian says:

    “On a blisteringly hot Saturday in June in California, I made my way to my concealed carry class in my Jeep, top off, enjoying the wind on my skin.”

    The JEEP’S top, you pervs.

    1. avatar JohnF says:

      How do you know that? Were you there? The way the sentence is written, it could go either way. Now if she had added two words that most of us would have added, “…in my Jeep, (with the) top off, enjoying the wind on my skin” that would be different. She’s a good writer. I think she did it to be intentionally vague and double-entendre.

      You read it the way you want, I’ll read it the way I want. I’ll have more fun!

  32. avatar teebonicus says:

    To celebrate, you should drive either up to San Fran or down to L.A. or San Diego (distance depending) and parade around in the full knowledge that there’s nothing the Nazis can do to stop you.

  33. avatar SemperAlacer says:

    I have not heard of any “Handler’s Permit”. Not that I would put it past any politician in this state. I am a firearms instructor in CA and not wanting to violate yet another hypocritical CA gun law I had thought to send an email to Sagebrush to ask them about this permit. I can not find a number or email for them. Nor could I find anything about this permit.

    My guess is that there was some miscommunication somewhere about the permit. Or maybe it was a joke and it was delivered to dryly. As a rule you should always ask before handling someone else’s gun or any property for that matter. As an NRA instructor it is policy to ask permission before touching a student. But if there is yet another idiotic law that made it on the books I don’t want to give them a chance to shut me down so if someone knows anything about this please email me.

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