Wait List for L.A. Concealed Carry Permit Larger Than Number of Active Permit Holders

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

A few months ago the California Rifle & Pistol Association, along with GOA, SAF, Gun Owners of California, and multiple individuals filed suit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department over its lengthy delays in processing concealed carry permits (the lawsuit also challenges the exorbitant fees charged by municipalities like La Verne, California). In their complaint, the plaintiffs noted that, according to the sheriff's department's own statements it takes "a year to a year-and-a-half" to approve a carry application; an untenable (and unconstitutional) delay for folks trying to exercise a fundamental right. 

Things haven't gotten any better in the months since the litigation was filed. If anything, it's gotten even worse. According to L.A. Taco, while the number of concealed carry permits has grown by an incredible 42,000% since 2022, there are now more than three times as many people waiting for their permits than those who've received one.

According to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), before the May 2022 decision, there were only four active permits given out to people in the city. 

Today, there are more than 1,700 active permits, a more than 42,000% increase. Thousands of applicants remain on the waitlist and the number continues to grow. 

Four permits in a county with more than 10 million residents. That figure alone is enough to demonstrate the chilling effect that "may issue" statutes had on our right to keep and bear arms, but the fact that there are now thousands of residents who are stuck in a legal limbo is also clear evidence that jurisdictions like Los Angeles are still doing everything they can to curtail our Second Amendment rights. 

According to the LAPD, within the first year of the high court ruling, thousands of Angelenos indicated that they were interested in obtaining a CCW permit. Today, more than 5,800 Angelenos are currently waitlisted for permits, LAPD spokesperson Officer Drake Madison confirmed earlier this month.

Across the state, law enforcement agencies have had trouble keeping up with the growing demand for CCW permits, CalMatters reported.

Not every jurisdiction, it should be noted. In fact, the issue seems to mostly be popping up in those areas of the state where, like Los Angeles, few carry permits were ever issued under the state's "may issue" regime. 

For several months after the Bruen decision groups like the California Rifle & Pistol Association gave licensing authorities time to adapt to the new "shall issue" standard, but when it became apparent that many jurisdictions weren't adding staff to handle the influx of applications in a timely manner, they turned to the courts in the hope of finding some relief.

Unfortunately, that hasn't come yet. In April, U.S. District Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett held a hearing on CRPA's request for a preliminary injunction, but the Biden appointee hasn't made a ruling on the request even though almost two months has passed. And while one would think the prospect of getting smacked down by the federal judiciary might have lit a fire under the LASD in terms of speeding up its system, applications are still being processed at a snail-like pace. 

According to data obtained from the LAPD, as of earlier this month, the LAPD had only issued 247 permits this year.

A department spokesperson said that, on average, the department processes approximately 160 to 180 applicants per month.

At that rate, it could take some applicants years to get approved for a CCW permit.

Admittedly, math was never my strong suit in school, but if the LAPD (not, it should be noted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department) is processing 160 applications a month, then it should have processed some 800 permits by now. Unless the LAPD is denying the majority of applicants (which in itself would be problematic), it seems like it's processing far fewer than the number claimed by the department. 

As we discussed on today's Bearing Arms Cam & Co, obtaining and carrying a gun illegally in Los Angeles is much easier (and faster) than going through the legal process of obtaining a carry permit. Coincidentally (or not), Los Angeles is also one of the few cities in the U.S. where the number of homicides is increasing this year; up 10% compared to 2023, according to crime analyst Jeff Asher's Year-to-Date Homicide Dashboard

A right delayed is a right denied, and there are thousands of Los Angelenos who are being denied their Second Amendment rights at the moment. In addition to the nearly 6,000 folks waiting to have their applications processed, there are also countless others who've simply decided it's not worth the time or trouble of applying for permission to exercise their right to bear arms since it will be a year or more before they're approved. A good decision by Judge Garnett could change that, but if she allows these delays to continue we're likely to see more L.A. residents decide their safety is worth the risk of getting caught carrying without their required paperwork.