California is one of the few remaining “may issue” states. Given yesterday’s refusal by the Supreme Court to consider a number of carry cases, that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
While some counties in California are effectively “shall issue”, the majority are not. That is the case with Santa Clara County which includes cities like San Jose.
This has led to charges of favoritism towards campaign donors to Sheriff Laurie Smith. NBC News Bay Area has done an investigative report on the issue. They found that there were 749 new applications for a carry permit in the 2014-2018 time period. If you were not a donor to the sheriff’s re-election coffers, you had about a 5.5% chance of obtaining a permit. However, if you were one of the 28 people who donated either directly or indirectly, your chances skyrocketed to a 79% approval rate.
While Sheriff Laurie Smith denies any correlation between campaign donations and CCW permits, the issue is still under investigation by the Santa Clara County DA’s office.
Rob, who publishes 2A Updates on Twitter, noted, “Wow hard to believe a permit system where an elected official has unlimited discretion to approve or deny applications would result in political favoritism.”
This generated a response on Twitter to the effect that the Sheriff should just post the going amount to obtain a permit so that people could budget for it.
The system in California and other states where carry permits are “may issue” is ripe for abuse. You have seen cases in New York City where police officials have been arrested on charges of accepting bribes to issue permits.
Sheriff Smith’s campaign donation approach is just a little less obvious than an envelope full of cash – but not by much.