Solano County, Calif., only saw 27 concealed carry permits issued in 2011, but that number is up to 254 for the year. The same uptick can be seen in Sacramento County too -- 95 permits were issued in 2009, while 727 were issued this year.
More concealed carry permits have been issued in Bay Area counties after lawsuits were brought against local sheriffs and the discretion they use to decide whether to issue permits or not. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
So what gives? Perhaps there has been an increase in applicants, but KPIX-TV reported lawsuits brought against local sheriffs' rejection authority might be having an impact.
In 2009, a jury found the sheriff in Solano County might have used an “informal policy" of "denying access…and/or discouraging applicants," KPIX reported.
Frazier Baptist, a man who offers a concealed carry weapons class in Vacaville, said for years his trainees had a hard time getting a permit, needing to prove to sheriffs that they had a good enough cause to possess one.
“Personal safety will never be the sole reason for an approval,” he told KPIX 5.
Watch the local news station's report about the potential correlation between lawsuits and concealed carry permit numbers:
Here's a segment from a 2010 UT San Diego story about lawsuits filed to fight for personal safety to be considered justification for a concealed carry permit (emphasis added):
The suit, filed last year by independent journalist Edward Peruta and six others in federal court in San Diego, joins others filed nationally since 2008 in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gun-ownership rights.
In those cases, the court said the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense. The complaint in San Diego argues that the right to self-defense should be enough of a reason to meet the “good cause” standard — one requirement under California law to obtain a concealed-weapon permit.
What constitutes “good cause” is at the heart of the debate and the one element that is considered on a case-by-case basis.
“Essentially, an applicant must demonstrate facts that show him to be a specific target or subject of a threat,” said Sanford Toyen, the sheriff’s legal adviser. “Simply stating that one needs a CCW for personal protection or safety will not be sufficient.”
In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez on Nov. 15, the lawyer for the plaintiffs said those kinds of rules are now unconstitutional. The Supreme Court rulings establish self-defense as a fundamental right that can’t be squelched so easily, said attorney Carl Michel.
“They can’t say you have to have a death threat or are being stalked, or you must articulate a specific risk in order to exercise your right to self-defense,” he said. “The right to self-defense does not end at the threshold of your home.”
The results of these lawsuits might now be seen with the increase in permits being issued.
“A legal challenge can definitely motivate an official to act differently than they otherwise would, whether or not that challenge is meritorious,” Cody Jacobs with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence told KPIX.
Jacobs added that he believes the lawsuits "intimidate local officials into just giving everyone permits."
Calguns Foundation president Gene Hoffman countered, telling KPIX that calling out a sheriff who isn't following the law should not be considered intimidation.
“The sheriff gets to decide he doesn’t like you. That’s not constitutional,” Hoffman said.
Not all counties have seen such a dramatic uptick. San Francisco hasn't issued any permits in several years, according to KPIX, while Marin County still has nine active permits.