New state law adds more steps for CCW obtainment

SB 2 involves deeper background checks, increases areas where concealed weapons are not permitted

A person wearing a holster with a handgun.
Darren Fraser
Published December 20, 2023  • 
12:30 pm

SACRAMENTO – Beginning Jan. 1, the procedure for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon in California will become more thorough and, most likely, more expensive, due to a new law that makes 28 changes to the California Penal Code relating to firearms.

Senator Anthony Portantino, Jr., D-25th District, introduced Senate Bill (SB) 2, which Governor Newsom signed Sept. 26, 2023. While the bill does introduce significant changes to existing law, it focuses on tightening four areas related to concealed weapons: background checks, disqualified persons, training and prohibited locations.

According to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Concealed Weapons Permit Unit, there are 14,800 people licensed by the sheriff’s office to carry a concealed weapon. Ashley Schwarm of the Tulare County Sheriff said there are 9,364 active and 79 pending renewal concealed carry weapon (CCW) permits in Tulare County.

BACKGROUND CHECKS

Under existing law, anyone applying for a CCW permit must provide a name, occupation and the reason why they want to obtain the permit. SB 2 requires an applicant to provide a driver’s license number or identification number but removes the requirement that an applicant provide the reason why they are applying for the permit.

The requires applicants to submit fingerprints regardless of if their fingerprints are previously on file with the sheriff or other licensing authority.

In addition to obtaining basic information, such as proof that the applicant is at least 21 and lives in the county or works in the county where they are applying for the permit, SB 2 requires applicants to provide character references. The licensing authority has 90 days from the date it receives the application to approve or deny the application. During that period, in addition to conducting standard criminal background checks, the sheriff’s department or other agency may examine the applicant’s social media posts.

SB 2 requires that, prior to issuing the permit, the licensing authority must verify with the Department of Justice that the applicant is the owner of record of the gun. A person can only carry a concealed weapon if they are the registered owner, even if they have a CCW permit.

Under current law, the licensing authority can charge “reasonable” processing costs for a new license but prevents the authority from charging additional fees or from requiring an applicant to obtain liability insurance. SB 2 allows a licensing authority to charge additional processing fees, allows the authority to collect 50% of fees up front and removes any restriction on the authority from imposing additional fees or from requiring the applicant to obtain liability insurance.

DISQUALIFIED PERSONS

SB 2 expands the category of what disqualifies a person from being issued a permit.

The bill’s initial description of what defines a person as disqualified is that person is “reasonably likely to be a danger to self, others or the community at large.” The disqualified person category also includes:

  • A person convicted of contempt of court;
  • A person currently under a restraining order;
  • A person who engaged in the reckless use of a firearm or who recklessly brandished a firearm;
  • A person who was in jail in during the last five years because of drugs or alcohol;
  • A person who was convicted in the past 10 years of any of a myriad of offenses listed in Penal Code Sections 422.6, 422.7, 422.75, and 29805;
  • A person who is currently abusing drugs or alcohol; or
  • A person who, in the last 10 years, has displayed a marked proclivity for losing firearms or for being a victim of firearm theft.

Under SB 2, a disqualified person may request a hearing to challenge the licensing authority’s decision not to issue or to revoke a permit. According to the bill, during the hearing, the state must show by a preponderance of evidence why the applicant meets the criteria of a disqualified person.

TRAINING

Under existing law, prior to receiving a CCW permit, an applicant must furnish proof they have completed a licensed safety training course. The average length of a training course for new applicants is eight hours; for individuals renewing a permit, the average length is four hours. SB 2 doubles the number of training hours a new applicant or returning applicant must complete to receive a permit.

The bill adds new training topics, including how to safely store a weapon and how to legally transport firearms. Training courses must include a mental health component, which is another added cost. Applicants will be tested on live-fire shooting exercises on a certified shooting range and must complete a written test.

Steve Collins runs Foothill Training in Yokuts Valley. Collins said the eight hour training course for a new CCW permit applicant is $100. Collins said he was not happy with the new law.

“Sacramento doesn’t get it,” he said. “They’re just making it harder for law-abiding citizens to get permits.”

PROHIBITED LOCATIONS

SB 2 expands the number of locations where a person cannot carry a concealed weapon. Under current law, a person cannot bring a firearm into a sterile area of an airport, passenger vessel terminal or public transport facility. A sterile area is defined as that area where passengers are screened for entry by security personnel.

Now with the changes made by SB 2, the bill prohibits a person from bringing a firearm into any building, real property or parking area that is under the control of an airport or passenger vessel terminal.

Existing law makes it a crime to bring a gun into a state or local building, or to bring a loaded firearm into or upon the grounds of any residence of the Governor or member of the legislature. The law exempts persons who have a valid license to carry a weapon. SB 2 removes all exemptions except for police officers or other law enforcement personnel.

The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 makes it a crime to possess a gun in a school zone. School zones include public and private K-12 schools and extend 1,000 feet from the school grounds; but there are exceptions, of course. 

Existing law allows an individual with a CCW permit to carry a weapon in the school zone, provided the individual is not on the grounds proper and the weapon is unloaded and is either in a locked container or in the trunk of a vehicle.

SB 2 revises this exception, though it is not entirely clear that the new law strengthens or weakens existing law. According to the bill, a person with a valid CCW permit may have a gun in an area that “is not within any building, real property or parking area under the control of a public or private school.” 

The prohibition also extends to a street or sidewalk immediately adjacent to these areas.

Darren Fraser
Reporter