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Concealed carry applications surging in two California counties due to pandemic, rioting fears

Among new applicants are 'more left-leaning people who avoided guns in the past,' one gun trainer said

Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot

Given the heightened tensions and divisions and outright violence in the streets across the country this year, it isn't surprising that gun sales have dramatically increased. Even already-armed households are adding more firepower.

It's no different in a pair of northern California counties — Sacramento and Placer — as KOVR-TV reported shelves are empty at local gun stores and firearms training courses are backlogged with individuals applying for concealed carry permits.

Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot

More than that, the station said gun store owners and gun trainers said they're seeing more women, senior citizens, and folks who lean left politically among their clientele.

Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot

Why? Primarily a desire to step up home defense amid the uncertainty of the pandemic and civil unrest that's been popping in more and more places, KOVR reported — as well as concerns that it could be harder to get a gun after the election.

What are the details?

The station cited a recent study that said about 110,000 Californians purchased new guns since the start of the pandemic — and 47,000 of them were first-time buyers.

"They go out as fast as I can bring them in," Eddie Ford, co-owner of the NorCal Gun Vault, told KOVR. "[We've seen] 160% demand over last year."

Ford added to the station that sales began spiking in March — which is when COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders started in most American communities — and surged again over the summer amid violence and rioting, and then again as the election approached.

He also told KOVR that a third of his customers also want concealed carry permits — and Ford's training courses have been full for months.

Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot

In Sacramento County so far this year there are 26% more new CCW applications than in all of 2019, the station said, adding that in Placer County so far this year there are 63% more new applications, with over 700 still pending or backlogged due to the pandemic.

Paul Manifredi — a 77-year-old — is one of them, KOVR said.

"I'm a strong constitutionalist," he told the station. "I adhere to the right to bear arms."

Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot

As to why he's going applying for a concealed carry permit for the first time at his age, Manifredi told KOVR the outcry to defund police combined with a need to protect himself and his family amid civil unrest are the factors.

"The demographic is definitely changing," CCW trainer Don Ratkowski, owner of Protection Plus Tactics in Placer County, told the station. "[There are] more women and elderly that want to protect themselves in addition to more left-leaning people who avoided guns in the past."

Obtaining a concealed carry permit in California is a long process, KOVR said, which includes a required training course consisting of mostly classroom work.

"Knowing your responsibility with a weapon in the public. That is the most important thing," Ratkowski added to the station.

Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot

In addition, requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit can vary greatly by county, as Placer County's course lasts eight hours, while Sacramento County's runs for 16 hours, KOVR said.

More from the station:

Concealed weapon permits are issued by county sheriffs, and some chose not to issue any at all. The State Auditor raised concerns in 2017 about inconsistent CCW programs among some of the largest counties that do issue the permits.

For instance, while you must show "good cause" to carry a firearm, the interpretation of "good cause" varies greatly by county.

Data obtained by CBS13 reveals so far this year, Sacramento County has denied roughly 70% of CCW applications while Placer County has denied fewer than 5% of the processed applications.

The Sacramento Sheriff's Department would not reveal the reason for the vast number of denials stating, "When a CCW is denied, we do not give a specific reason as it creates an opportunity for people to craft their applications around screen out criteria."

In contrast, the Placer County Sheriff's Department revealed that most of the denials were due to incomplete or withdrawn applications.

Ratkowski added to KOVR that not all his students walk away with concealed carry permits, noting that about 10% don't pass the course and another 5% withdraw their applications.

"Sometimes they feel that responsibility and commitment and it might be a little too much, and they decide, 'I'm not ready for it,'" he noted to the station. "And sometimes they come back once they're ready."

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