San Francisco's "surge" in concealed carry applications is more of a trickle

Photo Courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

San Francisco is one of the most anti-gun cities in one of the most anti-gun states in the Union, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that there are almost no concealed carry holders living in the county. In fact, San Francisco County is so hostile to the right to bear arms that few residents ever even bother applying for a license. Why waste time and energy on something when you know you’re not going to be successful?

According to a spokesperson in the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Office, there are usually only one or two applications submitted over the course of an entire year, and while the numbers have definitely increased since the Supreme Court struck down the “may issue” system used in states like New York and California a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t call the uptick in applications a “surge.” The San Francisco Examiner, on the other hand, seems very impressed by the fact a few dozen residents have now dropped off their application forms.

San Francisco has seen a dramatic spike in applications to carry a gun in public since the U.S. Supreme Court loosened the eligibility requirements for such permits less than three months ago.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office has received 45 concealed carry weapons permit applications in the weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen. The department typically sees just two concealed carry permit applications each year, a spokesperson said.

The high court’s decision has prompted the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office this month to issue new policies to keep up with the pace of permit applications and to ensure that it grants CCWs “only to applicants who are law-abiding, responsible persons.”

Keep up with the pace? Granted, the difference between one or two applications a year and one or two per day is substantial, but it’s also far below the number we’d expect to see given the fact that nearly 900,000 people live in San Francisco County. My suspicion is that most residents tempted to apply still believe that the fix is in and the county sheriff will be going out of his way to deny average citizens their right to bear arms in self-defense.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office’s new policies seek to codify the gun control rules it is still allowed to enforce. CCW applicants in The City must pass a psychological test, a background check and a gun safety training course. The Sheriff’s Office will also review criminal history and other factors to determine whether the applicant is “of good moral character.”

The policy states that the Sheriff’s Office must process CCW applications within 90 days, or 30 days after receiving the background check results, whichever is later.

The process to apply for permission to exercise your constitutionally-protected right to bear arms in self-defense still allows for the sheriff’s department to deny any and all applicants based on subjective determinations of “good moral character”, while the 16 hours of training will be difficult for many residents to obtain since there are no public ranges anywhere in San Francisco County. Additionally, the $150 fee that applicants must pay for their psychological test is an added financial burden, while the psychological test itself raises all kinds of constitutional concerns.

If it seems like these provisions are meant to dissuade would-be applicants from moving forward with trying to exercise their Second Amendment rights, you’re not alone. Even the San Francisco Sheriff’s website makes it clear the sheriff isn’t keen on the idea of armed citizens being able to protect themselves.

The Sheriff is authorized to issue a license to carry a concealed weapon to qualified San Francisco residents. Due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of a New York state law requiring a person to show “proper cause” for a permit to carry a firearm in public, California’s “good cause” requirement will be affected.

Sheriff’s Legal Counsel is working with the City Attorney’s Office to determine the ruling’s impact. Currently we are enforcing our licensing requirements which include proof of residency or employment within the City and County of San Francisco, DOJ background checks, firearms safety training, psychological testing, and completion of a firearms qualification course.

We will continue our commitment to keep our community safe. California commonsense gun laws have helped support our ability to limit concealed carry permits to people who may safely possess firearms. We understand the need to strike a balance between constitutional rights and public safety, but more guns in the community does not mean the community is more safe.

If the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office was only receiving one or two applications per year, it’s pretty obvious that the state’s laws weren’t limiting concealed carry permits only to those who “may safely possess firearms.” There are plenty of legal gun owners in San Francisco County who never would have been approved under the old “may issue” regime, and it sure looks like many of them are still shying away from applying for a license even after the “good cause” requirement was struck down because they can clearly see that the department’s hostility towards the right to armed self-defense is still firmly in place.

45 carry applications over the course of two months is nothing to cheer about. Frankly, it’s cause for alarm more than celebration, and it’s just another example of the fact that while the Supreme Court may have delivered a big win for Second Amendment supporters, there are going to be many more court battles ahead to get these anti-2A cities and states to comply with the Court’s decision that we the people have a general right to bear arms in public for the purposes of self-defense.