San Francisco approves first carry permit since SCOTUS decision

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

The Supreme Court’s decision declaring may issue” carry permitting regimes unconstitutional was handed down late last June, but some of those “may issue” jurisdictions have taken their sweet time in changing up their policies and start issuing concealed carry licenses based on objective criteria. On Monday we reported on a lawsuit out of New York where several gun owners in Suffolk County say the local police department is taking years to process their paperwork, which I suppose makes San Francisco’s nearly seven month delay in approving their first post-Bruen carry permit look downright speedy in comparison.

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“We can confirm we did approve our first CCW permit Friday,” said Tara Moriarty, a department spokersperson, who declined to identify the applicant.

The Supreme Court in June ruled that states with strict gun laws could not force residents to show a special need for self-defense in order to obtain permits allowing hidden firearms.

That ruling represented a big shift in many jurisdictions in California, including San Francisco, where authorities have routinely turned away applications for CCWs by citing a requirement that residents show “good cause” to need a gun.

San Francisco had for years steadily tightened its gun laws. By 2014, fewer than 10 people had the permits in the city, The Chronicle reported at the time.

Applications dwindled to the San Police Department and Sheriff’s Office as people assumed they would be turned down.

But after the high court’s ruling, both the Sheriff’s Office and the police force received scores of applications. As the months passed, some accused the agencies of purposefully dragging their feet on the process and began threatening to take the matter to court.

The sheriff’s approval of a permit seeker’s application doesn’t mean the permit has actually been issued; the applicant still needs to complete a required training course and pay a fee before receiving it, Moriarty said.

Still, CCW advocates said they were pleased by the news.

“It’s an important symbolic victory, but CRPA is not content with just symbolic victories,” said California Rifle and Pistol Association attorney Kostas Moros. “We will continue to keep the pressure on until every law-abiding applicant has their permit application processed in a reasonable timeframe.”

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And they’re not just pressuring San Francisco. As California Rifle & Pistol Association head Chuck Michel recently told Bearing Arms, there are a number of jurisdictions in the state, particularly in the Bay Area, where sheriffs and local police departments have been processing carry permit applications at a glacial pace. Michel says the CRPA sent what amounts to a cease-and-desist letter to Alameda County earlier this month warning officials that if they don’t start to speed up the process they’re inviting a lawsuit, and the CRPA is looking for potential plaintiffs who have standing to sue over the delays; both in Alameda County and any other location where permits are being slow-walked.

San Francisco’s first approval in at least seven months is good news, but it’s not really cause for celebration. The sheriff’s department is just doing what its supposed to do, and it’s still taking far longer than necessary. I’ll save my cheers for the day when the average San Franciscan can drop off their application and be approved within a reasonable time frame… and when the number of permits issued are in the hundreds and thousands instead of single digits.

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