California bill to allow sheriffs, chiefs to ignore recent gun rights win advances

Assemblyman Mark Stone, center, saw his proposal to allow sheriffs to shift concealed carry permits to city police chiefs pass the Senate this week. (Photo: WGA.com)

The Senate gave its stamp of approval Wednesday to an Assembly bill to allow police agencies to circumvent a recent win in the courts on how sheriffs consider carry permit applications.

The proposal, which passed the Assembly 51-26 in April and the Senate 23-16 this week, would allow county sheriffs to establish agreements with local police chiefs to process carry license applications.

The practice, which gun rights advocates paint as an unofficial ban on issuing permits by sheriffs, was found illegal by a state court last January in the case of Lu v. Baca.

Supporters of the measure, backed by gun control organizations and police lobby groups, paint it as one to add better local control over who gets permits.

“I agree with the California State Sheriffs’ Association in that the police chief, whose department may be more familiar with city residents than a county sheriff, can be better positioned to make a determination that a person should be granted a concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit,” said Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, in a statement to lawmakers.

Stone’s bill, AB 1134, allows a sheriff to make a deal with the chief of a local police department to process all of the area’s CCW applications. A similar agreement in Los Angeles County in 2012 was at the center of the lawsuit decided by a California Superior Court.

Gun rights advocates contend the measure is a way to legally circumvent the Lu victory and add an additional hoop for would-be concealed carriers to jump through, especially in cases where a city police chief is disinclined to grant a permit under the state’s controversial may-issue practices.

“If enacted into law, AB 1134 would only increase the red tape and costs associated with CCW issuance and not allow Californians in their jurisdictions the ability to apply for CCW permits to every agency they can legally apply to,” reads a statement from the California Rifle and Pistol Association emailed to Guns.com.

Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition and executive director of the Calguns Foundation, told Guns.com previously that 1134 is an escape hatch for sheriffs to avoid their statutory duty to accept and process carry license applications.

“If sheriffs don’t like the responsibility of processing carry license applications, they should just support a bill to consolidate the entire system at the state level like armed guard permits are,” Combs said.

AB 1134 is now back in the Assembly waiting on concurrence, which is seen as being likely. After that, it’s on to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.