California sheriff slow-walking carry permits, but is quick on the draw in collecting guns

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

After former Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith resigned her office in disgrace just ahead of a jury finding her guilty of corruption and misconduct in a pay-to-play scheme exchanging concealed carry permits for political donations and favors from VIPs, I harbored vague hopes that her replacement would treat the right to carry as an actual right and not a privilege to be doled out to a favored few.

So far there’ve been no allegations of impropriety on the part of Sheriff Robert Jonsen, which is good, but his office does appear to be dragging its feet when it comes to issuing permits, even though California’s “may-issue” law has been replaced (at least in theory) with a “shall issue” process.

Keep in mind that Bruen was handed down more than a year ago, but the county has only issued 32 carry permits to date, with nearly 900 other applications still in the pipeline.

While the sheriff’s office is taking its sweet time in processing applications, they’re moving much more quickly when it comes to taking guns. Starting on Monday the office will debut its Firearms Relinquishment Program, offering gift cards to anyone looking to dispose of any “unwanted” guns.

Unlike most “buybacks”, which take place at a specific time and location, the sheriff’s new program will operate on a continual basis. According to a post on Instagram, anyone who wishes to drop off a gun can do so “no questions asked” and receive a $50 gift card for every gun turned in (up to a maximum of five firearms).

1. Call the Non-Emergency Number (408) 299-2311. Let the dispatchers know you have firearms to bring in for destruction.

2. Identify the items to the dispatcher and advise which Sheriff’s Office location you plan to bring the firearms/ammunition:

1. Sheriff’s Headquarters: Open 24/7/365 55 W. Younger Ave. San Jose, CA 95110

2. West Valley Division: Available Mon. to Friday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm 1601 S. De Anza Blvd. Cupertino, CA 95014

3. South County Station: Available Mon. to Friday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm 80 W. Highland Ave. San Martin, CA 95046

3. If you know how to safely unload the firearm(s), please do so.

4. If possible, place a flex tie or other obstruction to lock open the chamber on a revolver or the slide on a semi-automatic handgun.

5. Lock your firearm(s) in a secure container. Ammunition should be placed in a separate box or specific ammunition can.

6. Transport the firearm(s) locked in the trunk of your vehicle and store the ammunition in either the glove box and/or the interior compartment area.

7. Drive straight to your selected Sheriff’s Office location.

8. Park your vehicle in a Sheriff’s Office visitor space, make sure your vehicle is locked, and go inside to ask for further instructions.

9. Please DO NOT bring any firearms into any Sheriff’s Office building. Leave all firearms in their locked containers inside your vehicle until given further instructions by a Sheriff’s Office Deputy.

10. You will receive a receipt for documentation.

To his credit, Jonsen doesn’t appear to be claiming that actual criminals are going to follow this multi-step process of calling the police and driving to a sheriff’s substation to hand over their illegally-obtained firearms, which is a refreshing change of pace from those who insist that compensated confiscation programs like this one have any real impact on crime or public safety. But those Santa Clara County residents who truly do just want to get rid of any unwanted guns would still be much better off heading to one of the few gun stores in the San Jose area, where they’re likely going to get a much better price than a $50 gift card.

As for the sheriff and his anti-gun efforts, I’d advise him to pay more attention to the constituents who want to carry a firearm for self-defense than those residents who are looking to unload any guns they might have in their possession. We haven’t seen any litigation to date filed in California over the slow-walking of carry applications, but if the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t start processing applications in a timely manner Jonsen could find himself at the center of a lawsuit challenging his office’s glacial pace of approvals.