Firearms Owners Against Crime

Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action

San Francisco still sitting on carry permit applications? :: 01/19/2023

Since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen last June, most of the “may issue” jurisdictions around the country have dropped the “good cause” or “justifiable need” language from concealed carry applications and have begun issuing more carry licenses, however reluctantly. One exception appears to be the city of San Francisco, where officials are apparently keeping every applicant over the past seven months in a legal limbo; neither approving nor denying their applications.

Reason columnist Jacob Sullum reports that city officials are playing the waiting game; holding off on approving any permits until the state legislature adopts its own response to Bruen, which could include new requirements for applicants as well as establishing a host of “gun-free zones” where lawful carry is forbidden. Sullum says it’s the most brazen act of defiance of the Bruen decision that he’s seen, and while there are a lot of contenders for the title this is definitely up there.

The San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department “have seen a spike in CCW applications” since Bruen, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “In the past, the Sheriff’s Department and the Police Department have reported receiving only a few CCW applications a year. But in the three months after the Bruen decision, the police force received more than 100 applications, public records show.”

Police accepted those applications but did not act on them. “While other counties are working through waves of applications,” the Chronicle says, “San Francisco has yet to grant a single permit since the court’s ruling seven months ago.”

The official excuse: We’ve never had to do this before. “This is a new administrative process,” Sheriff’s Capt. Jamala Sanford told the Chronicle. “It’s taken some time to set up the administrative process so that we understand and are on the same page with everybody about the steps that have to be taken—both by the applicant and us—before we can issue or deny an actual permit.” A city police spokesman told the paper that “the department ‘has been working diligently’ to update procedures around CCW applications.” So far it has “created a new unit to process applications” and “identified a vendor to conduct mandatory firearms training.”

I don’t buy it. The only immediate impact of the Bruen decision on California carry laws was the removal of the “good cause” language. But while that certainly increased the pool of applicants, it didn’t change anything about the administrative process other than to streamline it. No longer does the authorizing agency have to ponder whether or not someone has a good enough reason to exercise their right to bear arms in self-defense. If they meet the statutory requirements they get their license. That’s pretty simple, and it certainly doesn’t take seven months to figure it out.

No, this is pretty clearly an attempt to simply ignore what the Supreme Court had to say for as long as possible, and so far the city is getting away with it. California Rifle & Pistol Association executive director C.D. “Chuck” Michel will be joining me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to discuss his role in litigating the Illinois gun and magazine ban, but I’ll also be asking him about the situation in San Francisco and the prospects of a legal remedy for the hundreds of applicants who’ve been left twisting in the wind thanks to their city’s unwillingness to recognize one of their fundamental civil rights.

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