SoCal city warned by gun group over outrageous cost for carry permits

SoCal city warned by gun group over outrageous cost for carry permits
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The city of Santa Monica is the latest California locale to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen by jacking up the cost to apply for a concealed carry license, and now the California Rifle & Pistol Association is warning city council members that if they don’t take reverse course they could soon be facing a lawsuit.

Several Los Angeles County cities, including Santa Monica, have levied administrative fees and costs amounting to more than $600 for applicants. Unlike in the past, residents are no longer able to get their permits through the L.A. County Sheriff’s office, which has stopped processing applications from residents in independent localities in the county in order to cut down on the backlog of applications and improve processing times for concealed carry applicants in unincorporated areas of the county.

CRPA attorney Kostas Moros told the city council last week that Santa Monica is not only obligated to process these applications in a timely manner, but cannot impose excessive fees on applicants. Despite the words of warning, the council unanimously moved forward with a fee schedule that prices some residents out of their Second Amendment rights. Now Moros and the CRPA have sent a follow-up letter to the council hinting at the possibility of a lawsuit unless the fees are reduced to a reasonable level.

Under the fees approved by the City Council last Tuesday, Santa Monica residents will pay $617 — plus $150 for a psychological exam — for a license.

The total amount is $617 more than residents paid the LA County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), which charged a total of $150 and required no psychological testing, before they stopped processing fees for the city.

The Council also set the renewal fee at $150, five times more than the $30 charged by the Sheriff’s Department.

“Charging $767 (not including the training course) for the exercise of a constitutional right is not acceptable,” Konstadinos T. Moros, an attorney representing the California Rifle & Pistol Association, warned the Council shortly before the unanimous vote.

In his warning, Moros included a copy of a letter he sent to the City of La Verne threatening a lawsuit over the same fees Santa Monica would unanimously approve.

“By charging such outlandish fees, the City is punishing the very people who are law-abiding and respectful of the process,” Moros wrote.

“You are encouraging them to give up and, if they still must carry for their own safety, to do so illegally.”

That’s definitely one of the unintended consequences of Santa Monica’s fee schedule. It discourages responsible gun ownership by imposing so many financial burdens on applicants that some will undoubtably choose to risk carrying without a license because they can’t afford the hundreds of dollars in administrative costs imposed by council members.

In setting the fee, the Council used staff’s estimate that it would take the Police Department ten hours of work per application at an estimated cost of $1,093.83, a cost Moros said is overblown.

There is no reason it needs to take hours and hours to process permits in-house,” Moros wrote. “This can be done far more cheaply, as most other police and sheriff’s departments manage to do.

“This shouldn’t be more than a couple hours of work for each applicant.”

Moros also questioned the need for a $150 psychological exam he said “the vast majority of issuing authorities in California do not require,” including LASD.

“The idea that people who go out of their way get carry permits are a significant criminal threat is self-evidently wrong,” he wrote.

“There is no threat here for the City to fear. These are good people. The criminals are already carrying illegally, and won’t be applying for a permit any time soon.”

But neither will many law-abiding Santa Monica residents, which seems to be exactly what the city council wants.

The vast majority of states around the country charge anywhere between $50 and $150 for a concealed carry license, and even in southern California there are jurisdictions charging far less than Santa Monica’s $767 or La Verne’s $1,018 to apply. Whittier and Glendora both charge $243, according to Moros; still an eye-popping amount from my perspective (I paid $50 for my Virginia carry license, plus the cost of training), but a lot better than the ridiculous requirements imposed in some locales.

So far the city council is standing by its fee schedule, so the high cost of carrying may soon be the subject of a court challenge. California gun control laws have already taken one hit this week, and I’d love to see Santa Monica or La Verne try to defend their own locally imposed anti-gun regimes before a judge in the near future. It’d be much better if these cities simply respected the Second Amendment rights of residents, but I doubt that’s gonna happen without a court order.