The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over the weekend pleased 2nd Amendment advocates by blocking a new California law that bans people from carrying firearms in most public places.
In its ruling, the court said the law wouldn’t take effect while a court case challenging Senate Bill 2 continues.
However, a Clovis firearms safety instructor and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office point to other changes affecting concealed-carry permits that make them harder to get.
For example, ahead of the changes brought by SB 2 the California Office of Administrative Law updated the rules that certify CCW trainers.
The new rules de-certify trainers who have instructor licenses from the National Rifle Association — referred to by many trainers as the “gold standard.” The change in rules leaves scant few certified instructors, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
“Also be aware that very few, if any, instructors are certified to teach the new CCW classes that are required under CA SB 2 as the CA (Department of Justice) has been slow to start the application process for CCW instructors,” a post from the Sheriff’s Office stated. “The California State Sheriff’s Association (CSSA) has identified concerns with these regulations.”
Trainer Decertification a ‘de Facto’ Ban on CCWs: Belemjian
With the new rules in place, 90% of trainers lost their ability to train people looking to renew or get a CCW, estimates Jake Belemjian, owner of The Firing Line in Clovis.
Belemjian called the new law a “big, nasty monster” people are only beginning to understand.
“It completely upended the certification process for instructors,” Belemjian said. “So basically about 90, maybe 95% of the instructors on January 1st instantly became not certified anymore.”
For people looking to get their CCWs or renew them, that means relying on a small group of still-certified trainers to get their permits. The permits need to be renewed every two years.
As the state doubled the required training time for prospective gun carriers to 16 hours, it also changed its requirements for who can train people. However, the state never came up with replacement rules, Belemjian said. Nor has the state clarified what “state-accreditation” means.
“They don’t define what that is,” Belemjian said. “No one knows what that means. There’s lots of people speculating. There are lots of people who are taking classes because they think they’re going to be good enough, but the DOJ has not said what that means.”
One group of trainers is automatically certified — those who certify police officers. Called the Police Officer Safety Training, POST-certified firearms instructors have the qualifications to teach CCW classes. But those instructors are few and far between, Belemjian said.
Another group is comprised of those certified through the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, which certifies private security guards for open-carry firearms. But those trainers have to apply to be CCW trainers, and those applications only opened up on Jan. 1, Belemjian said.
“The state is using some emergency rulemaking procedure to try to figure this out,” Belemjian said. “And they are using that procedure not for our benefit but for theirs, because the emergency procedure allows them a lot more latitude.”
Could Be Eight Months Before Rules Come Out: Hamett
The Police Science Institute in Fresno has four POST-Certified firearms instructors providing CCW classes, according to Curt Hamett, a senior instructor there. For most civilian trainers, they are left not knowing what it takes to provide certified training.
The DOJ told the director of the Police Science Institute that it would be eight to nine months before those rules would come out.
Hamett said he believes more training is always a good thing.
“As an instructor, training to me is a must and it’s something, because shooting is a perishable skill, there needs to be some continuing education as far as I am concerned,” Hamett said.
Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni said in a Facebook post that while additional training is always a good thing, there was no study to show that 16 hours of training was any better than the previous eight hours of training.
“It’s just something the state came up with,” Zanoni said.
He acknowledged, however, that extra safety can’t hurt.
“But in the end, if that additional training makes people safer, prevents an accidental discharge, or just improves the overall quality of how people carry their CCWs, it’s a win,” Zanoni said.
Additional CCW certification also requires expanded background searches, including social media deep dives. Zanoni said it would lengthen the process and make it harder to obtain permits.
Likelihood of CCW Permit Holders Committing a Gun-Related Crime? Near Zero
In September, Attorney General Rob Bonta told GV Wire that restrictions on CCW holders prevent crimes.
“The whole point of a CCW regime that looks at dangerousness and looks at use in sensitive sites is to make sure that those who have CCW will be law-abiding and not commit crimes. But the data does show that those with CCW in the past across different states have committed crimes,” Bonta said.
But in Fresno County, only one CCW holder has been charged with a gun crime in the last five years.
Zanoni said CCW holders are targeted because they follow the rules.
“They don’t want to get in trouble, they have the most to lose,” Zanoni said.
Zanoni noted that violent crime in California has dropped in the last 30 years while the number of CCWs has increased by 1000%.
“That doesn’t really make sense if you’re trying to say that CCW holders are part of the problem,” Zanoni said.