Concealed Carry In California; A Look At The Process Of Obtaining A Permit

Those of us who live in California are all too familiar with the challenges that come with buying, owning, and carrying firearms. When we make the trip to the local gun store our selection is limited to pistols which are on the roster and pre-approved by the California DOJ. The limited number of guns that pass our 10 round magazine, magazine safety, and microstamping requirements leaves us with a selection which is a fraction of what most states have.

When it comes to obtaining a concealed carry permit your chances of being approved highly depends on the county in which you reside. Some counties are “shall issue” while others require “good cause”.  Living in Sacramento County, the good cause requirement made it pretty tough to get a carry permit. Sacramento tends to only issue CCW’s if you were in an occupation that put your safety at much higher risk than that of the average citizen. A few years ago, that all changed. The new sheriff in town decided that a citizen wanting to protect themselves, in a life or death situation, was a good enough cause to issue a CCW. After never applying, because I had never seen any hope of being approved, I made the decision to give it a shot.

Step #1 – Schedule an interview

The first step was to make an appointment on the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department website. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only person who had heard about the issuance of carry permits; all appointments slots were already booked for the next year. After about six months, the appointment system was updated and it allowed me to put myself on the waiting list. Fourteen months later, my name was at the top and I was finally able to schedule an appointment.

In preparation for the initial interview I needed to complete the CCW application form, write a letter of statement, two forms of address verification (i.e., utility bills), and get a cashier’s check or money order for $20. The application form required basic information, disclosure of any criminal convictions, and even any traffic violations within the last five years. Oh boy, I had three speeding tickets!

Step #2 – Initial Interview

On the morning of the interview I put on my slacks, button up shirt and tie, and I headed to the sheriff’s department. I had no idea what to expect, which definitely caused a level of nervousness. Within the first few minutes of my interview, my nerves calmed completely – the detectives were very nice and just wanted to confirm that I was the upstanding citizen which I had claimed to be. The questions were exactly what you would expect someone to ask you when you’re requesting a permit to carry a loaded firearm; any criminal convictions, history of drug use, or domestic violence? The key to this initial interview process is to disclose, disclose, disclose. When they run your name and birth date, everything will come up. If you hide anything, they will find it and you will be denied.

Two weeks later, I received an email saying that I had been approved!

Step #3 – Fingerprints, FBI/DOJ Approval, and 16 hour CCW Class

After being approved, I ran right down to my local sheriff’s office to have a live fingerprint scan for FBI/DOJ review. This process can take 4-6 weeks so it’s best to get it done as soon as possible. The long wait gave me the perfect opportunity to shop for a carry pistol and take the required 16 hour course. Remember to bring whatever firearms you would like to have on your permit to your qualification class. In Sacramento County we are allowed to qualify with three. I decided to qualify with my Glock 30 and my newly purchased Smith & Wesson M&P Shield .40. The qualification process is pretty straight forward and easy. If you have any shooting experience or even a basic handgun class under your belt, it will be a breeze.

Step #4 – Issuance Appointment

The issuance appointment was very fast and simple. The detectives wanted the certificate showing that I had completed the 16 hours CCW class, two pieces of address verification, and a cashier’s check or money order for $80. Ten minutes after walking in with the required paperwork, I walked out with my very first concealed carry permit.

What I Learned

From the first initial interview to the final issuance appointment, it took me only five weeks to get my Permit. That is, of course, completely ignoring the nearly two years it took me to get my initial interview. All in all, the process was very smooth and actually a lot of fun. If you’re a fellow Californian and you’ve been thinking about applying for a concealed carry permit, just remember a few things:

Demanding a permit because it’s your 2nd amendment right is not going to fly.

Be courteous and professional during your interview.

Disclose, disclose, disclose.

Good luck!

George is a salesman in Sacramento, California. His favorite hobbies are going to the shooting range, working on one of his project cars, and flying Cessna airplanes. His EDC is a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield .40 with an Apex trigger kit and a Lasermax sight. The M&P rides perfectly in a Alien Gear Cloak Tuck and stays loaded with Hornady Critical Defense 165gr rounds.
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