Would you pay $1000 for a carry license if it was forbidden to carry almost anywhere?

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

For most people, the answer would be “no” before the end of that question was even posed. Why on earth should you have to pay four figures to exercise a constitutionally-protected right in the first place? It’s adding insult to injury to charge that excessive amount and then make it a crime to carry in almost every publicly-accessible space, but that’s exactly what’s taking place in California.


More specifically, it’s the reality for gun owners in the Bay Area town of Los Gatos, where city leaders just instituted a plethora of “gun-free zones” on top of the excessive fees and expensive mandates that Santa Clara County is foisting on concealed carry applicants.

Concealed carry guns are now prohibited in “sensitive places” in Los Gatos like schools, places of worship, polling places, public transportation and town property after the Town Council updated its local weapons ordinance last month.

The new law will go into effect by Sept. 1, and will make it illegal, even for those with valid concealed carry permits, to bring their guns to sensitive places around town.

Town attorney Gabrielle Whelan said the updates are meant to make the town’s ordinance more in line with the recent Supreme Court rulings and impending state legislation.

The town is taking a conservative approach to defining the sensitive places, naming only locations that have already been cited in existing case law to avoid litigation, Whelan said. Glendale, a large city in Los Angeles County, is facing a lawsuit after it passed a more expansive ordinance with places that have not been upheld in other court decisions.

“I think this strikes a balance in terms of preserving people’s rights but also preserving safety in our community,” said Mayor Maria Ristow. “Given where we are legally… we want to make sure we’re doing the best vetting we can and allow people in sensitive places to feel like they understand whether there will be guns there or not.”

A resident who recently obtained a concealed carry permit through Santa Clara County spoke during the council meeting, sharing that he went through an FBI background check and an interview with the sheriff’s office, completed 16 hours of training and had to pass a psych test, background check and shooting proficiency test. He spent more than $1,000 on the whole process.


That appears to be the only way at the moment to obtain a concealed carry license in Los Gatos, with the local police chief contending that until the new ordinance was approved and the “internal administrative process (in place),” the police are unable to proceed with any concealed carry applications more than a year after the Supreme Court struck down “may-issue” carry laws like California’s.

To make matters even worse for gun owners like the man mentioned above, thanks to the fact that California doesn’t have a firearms preemption law, there’s nothing stopping localities from imposing their own laundry list of “gun-free zones” that might wildly vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You could be lawfully carrying on one side of the street, but committing a crime on the other side.

There are already dozens of jurisdictions that are charging anywhere from $650 to more than $1,000 in applications fees and other mandated costs like fingerprinting and psychological testing, which is undoubtably pricing many people out of the ability to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. Those same folks who’ve forked over four figures are starting to discover that they’re “allowed” to bear arms in self-defense in very few places, and it’s not hard to see that California has replaced its “may-issue” laws with a “may not carry” regime instead.



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