Concealed Gun Permits (CCW) soar in Sacramento County with New Sheriff

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 24, 2016 / comments

In El Dorado County, about one in every 60 adults now has a concealed carry permit.

When Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones became sheriff of Sacramento County in 2010, there were approximately 350 civilians licensed to carry concealed handguns in the county. Today there are nearly 8,000.

[BY HUDSON SANGREE AND PHILLIP REESE] About one out of every 135 adults in Sacramento County now has a license to carry. Jones has issued permits at an average rate of more than four per day during the last five years, according to data provided by the Sheriff’s Department.

The result is that Sacramento County had the third-highest number of concealed carry permit holders in California at the end of 2015, behind Fresno and Orange counties, a review of data from the California Department of Justice shows.

State law gives county sheriffs broad discretion to issue concealed weapons permits, so long as applicants show “good cause” and demonstrate “good moral character.”

The open-ended language of the statute has led to wide disparities in the number of permits counties approve. Some coastal counties issue almost none, while a number of inland counties hand them out as a matter of course.

Before Jones took office, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department tightly controlled the number of permits it issued, typically allowing them only in cases where individuals could show they faced a particular threat, carried large amounts of cash or valuables, or had law enforcement ties.

Jones’ predecessors, Sheriffs John McGinness and Lou Blanas, issued just over 200 permits from 2005 to 2009. Today, the Sheriff’s Department often issues as many permits in two months as during that entire five-year period.

One cause of the increase under his administration is pent-up demand, Jones said...

Jones and a number of other California sheriffs have interpreted “good cause” as a general desire to protect oneself and family. Other counties have more stringent standards, requiring applicants to show they face an imminent threat of harm...

The number of permits in both Placer and El Dorado counties rose by about 50 percent from 2012 to 2015, state figures show. Placer County had 2,600 permit holders at the end of 2015, giving it a rate of about one in every 110 adults. El Dorado County had 2,500, or about one in 60 adults.

A spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said the number had increased by another 717 since Jan. 1, and Sheriff John D’Agostini said he expects the concealed carry population to nearly double by year’s end.

“Our agency has changed our policy to still be compliant with state law but to be as lenient as we can,” D’Agostini said. “I believe an armed society is a safe society.”...

The sheep and the sheepdogs

To get a permit for concealed carry, applicants have to fill out a 13-page form, interview in person with a deputy sheriff, get fingerprinted and undergo a state criminal background check.

They also have to complete a 16-hour training course on firearms safety and the law regarding permissible use, and qualify on the gun range with up to three handguns of their choice, usually compact semi-automatic pistols...

One white-haired man, who did not want to be named, said carrying a gun was a constitutional right that needed to be exercised and defended. He wore a button-down Polo shirt and said he was a former Navy pilot.

The next day on the gun range, he said: “The more people that are in possession of a concealed weapon, the better. The cops can’t get there when they need to get there.”...

Jon Frazelle, 47, of Foothill Farms recounted how a stranger had come to the front door of his home several years ago and pointed a gun at his wife. He said he drove up in his car before anything more happened, and the man ran away.

“It’s a scary world,” he said...

“The best spare ammunition is a second gun,” Truesdale, a burly former military policeman, said.

He carries two, one in his pocket and one on his belt, and urges his students to do the same. Truesdale can whip out his guns, ready to fire, in under a second. Milliseconds can be the difference between protecting yourself and becoming a victim, he said.

Despite his aggressive stance, much of Truesdale’s class time was devoted to teaching students how to avoid situations where they might need to draw their weapon. He encouraged them to scan for danger and avoid it, and to be willing to lose arguments rather than resort to violence.

“If you can avoid a gunfight, you’ve won that gunfight,” he said. “The gun’s not the solution. It’s a tool of last resort.”...

To help his students prepare for confronting armed attackers, Truesdale showed them videos of a lawyer being shot outside a Van Nuys courthouse, a terrorist attack at a mall in Kenya, and a shooting at a school board meeting in Florida.

The lawyer took cover behind a tree and was shot but not killed. In the other situations, people hid, cowered or sat still in submission to a gunman’s orders. A few ran, which Truesdale said was smart. “Movement is life,” he said. None shot back.

He called those who sat still or cowered “sheep” and said “they hadn’t made the decision to be a sheepdog” by taking action...

Californians are more likely to carry concealed handguns in counties where Republicans are the dominant party, state records show. Sacramento County, which is largely Democratic, is an exception...

Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College near Los Angeles, said gun owners often passionately back a candidate who shares their views...

The more aggressive policies of Jones and some other county sheriffs have drawn criticism from those who see the proliferation of concealed handguns as a threat in itself.

“The scenarios in which people protect themselves and their families are fantasies,” said Allison Anderman, a staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.

Instead of stopping crimes, Anderman said, it’s more likely that concealed handgun carriers will accidentally shoot themselves or others, let their children get hold of a weapon, or use their gun to commit a crime.

Research on the topic is contradictory...

If gun proponents are serious about reducing crime, Fortunato said, they need to advertise the fact that lots of law-abiding people are carrying guns, and do so in a way that criminals will see, on billboards and TV, for instance.

“People have to know there are more guns around and infer it’s more dangerous for them to commit a crime,” he said...

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