California County Offers Residents Free Narcan While Charging Big Bucks for Carry Permits

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Things have gotten slightly better for Santa Clara County gun owners in recent years, but they still have a long way to go before their Second Amendment rights are taken seriously by county officials. The pay-to-play scandal that rocked the Santa Clara Sheriffs Office and led to the resignation of Sheriff Laurie Smith ahead of a guilty verdict in her civil corruption trial, along with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen declaring “may issue” regimes like California’s a violation of the Constitution means that gun owners now have a legitimate shot of obtaining a carry permit, which was nearly impossible in years past, though it will still cost them hundreds of dollars.


The sheriff charges more than $300 to simply apply for a permit, and that doesn’t include the additional cost of training or a mandatory psychological evaluation, which can add hundreds of dollars more to the expense of exercising a fundamental right. While gun owners are having to pay through the nose just to be able to bear arms in self-defense, the county is picking up the tab for any resident who wants Narcan nasal spray to combat drug overdoses. In fact, they’ll ship Narcan directly to your mailbox within days of your request.

Narcan, also known by its generic name naloxone, was approved by the FDA last year for use without a prescription and has become a popular tool for local governments and schools looking to curb the number of opioid overdoses. But the life-saving medicine comes with a hefty price tag with out of pocket costs ranging from $70 to $150.

Santa Clara County has already stocked free Narcan in several of its libraries, making the mail-order effort just the latest initiative to combat the opioid crisis.

Anjanette DeVito, the nurse manager for the county’s addiction medicine and therapy programs, said that since Dec. 1, the county has fulfilled nearly 60 requests — or 120 kits — of Narcan. Residents interested in obtaining Narcan can contact the county at 408-272-6055 or [email protected], and the county will send the nasal spray out within 24 hours.


If only they were that quick when it comes to processing concealed carry licenses.

There’s no denying that drug overdose deaths are a big problem in Santa Clara County. According to the county health department, there were 160 fatal overdoses in 2022 compared to 46 reported homicides. But violent crime isn’t exactly rare either. There were about 4,000 aggravated assaults along with roughly 1,500 robberies and more than 1,000 sexual assaults reported in 2022. If the county has the funds to subsidize $150 doses of Narcan for residents to fend off fatal overdoses, surely it could do the same for those concealed carry applicants who want to carry a firearm to protect themselves and others from harm.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez said adding a mail order program was the logical next step as many residents are already used to getting their prescriptions or COVID-19 tests in the mail.

In her conversations with residents, she’s learned that not everyone feels comfortable picking up Narcan at their local library out of fear that others might think they’re a drug user themselves.

“Even if they’re not drug users, they’re around people who are and so a lot of the folks who are requesting this aren’t using drugs themselves but have friends or family who do,” Chavez said. “Being somebody who is responsible, just wanting to be ready just like you would take a CPR class, that’s how we’re wanting to make it feel.”


They want to normalize Narcan, in other words, because of the prevalence of illegal opioids in the community. I don’t really have an issue with that. It’s the denormalization of gun ownership in the county that’s the problem. Under Sheriff Smith’s tenure, concealed carry applicants were regularly turned away, or in some cases, left to twist in the wind without official approval or denial from the sheriff’s office while “VIPs” who coughed up cash or prizes received rarely-granted permits. Then there’s former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and the city council, which went so far as to enact an ordinance requiring lawful gun owners to pay a fee to the city for exercising their Second Amendment rights while demanding they purchase liability insurance policies that don’t seem to exist.

If the county wants to make Narcan available free of charge to residents, great. Doing so while forcing lawful gun owners to fork over more than $500 to exercise a fundamental right, however, is a slap in the face to those residents who want to protect themselves against violence… including those crimes that are the result of the county’s rampant trade in illicit drugs.


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