Getting Started – Requirements for a CA CCW
Article by OCResident
California law allows Police Chiefs and County Sheriffs to issue a license to carry a concealed firearm if the following requirements are met:
1. Upon proof that the person applying is of good moral character
2. That good cause exists for the issuance
3. The applicant is a resident of the county or city to which they are applying (or the applicant’s place of employment is within the city or county)
4. The applicant has completed a course of training (16-24 hours)
That seems very simple – and it is – but it also leaves much up to the individual interpretation of the Chiefs and Sheriffs. CCW issuance policies vary widely from county to county.
DO NOT JUST GO OUT AND APPLY WITHOUT DOING YOUR HOMEWORK! On the CCW application form, you must list every agency you have ever applied to for a CCW, so denials will hurt you in the future.
Where to Apply
You must apply to either the Chief of Police or County Sheriff of your area of residence. While the law allows for applying to the Chief/Sheriff of the location of your employment, the permit term would only be 90 days, and is almost never done.
In general, you may choose to apply to either the Chief, Sheriff, or both – some cities have agreements with the Sheriff to handle all CCW applications. These are typically agreed to via an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and commonly referred to as a city “declaring G” by some users of this site, referring to the Penal Code Section 12050(g) that allows for this. Other cities have agreements or understandings that you must apply to the city first (and be denied) before applying to the Sheriff.
Before applying, you need to find out whether the city handles CCW applications, or if they defer to the Sheriff for all applications, or have other arrangements. First, check the County FAQ section for your county, then search for your city. If that doesn’t answer the question, try calling the police department and locating the person in charge of CCW issuance and ask if they handle CCW applications or if they defer to the Sheriff for all applications.
You should also find out the number of CCWs issued by a specific city or county before applying. Official numbers from prior years are published on the California DOJ website here, and on occasion numbers are posted on this website. This is a very good indication of how willing a particular agency is to issue CCWs. If you see a surprisingly low level of permits, i.e. San Francisco, they are usually a no-issuance zone and the chosen few will usually be retired Federal agents that they by law have no choice and must issue to.
You will generally be required to show one or two utility bills to establish your residency.
Good Moral Character
This is fairly straightforward. Obviously, you can’t be a felon and should have a reasonably clean criminal and driving history. You must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military.
The standardized CCW application will ask about any criminal convictions (all of it – even as a minor), whether you have been a party to a lawsuit in the past 5 years, whether you have ever been subject to a restraining order, and any traffic violations in the last 5 years. Make sure you do your homework on this. THEY WILL CHECK. Any omissions may get you denied. Also, it is a crime to lie on this application.
You will be required to submit fingerprints which will be run through California DOJ and FBI. Some cities or counties may require psychological testing (but only if they require it of all applicants) – but this is not typical.
You will generally need to provide at least 2 reference letters from others. Requirements and weight will vary by county, but in general it is not necessary to beg your cousin the judge or your brother-in-law the federal agent to write you a letter. It just needs to be a simple letter that says you are of good moral character and that they understand you are applying for a CCW and they have no concerns.
This is the most important part, and the way most of the CCW-unfriendly Chiefs and Sheriffs use to avoid issuing permits. Some are very lenient and will accept simple personal protection as good cause, others (i.e. LA County Sheriff Baca) issue very few regardless of “good cause”.
Again, check the County FAQ section for your county, then search for your city across the entire site. Depending where you live, you may be out of luck. In that case, consider becoming active around the next Sheriff’s election. Keep in mind that some counties that never issue (i.e. LA County) have several cities that willingly issue. Other counties (i.e. Orange County, most rural counties) willingly issue and you can probably justify good cause in many cases.
You must state, in your own words, why you should be issued a CCW. In general, simply stating for protection of yourself and your family is not valid cause in California. You must state why you are more susceptible to a criminal attack than the average person.
Your good cause is just that – yours. Typical reasons may include business owners that carry large sums of cash or valuable equipment, victims or witnesses of crime going through criminal trials, victims of violent threats, etc. Be prepared to back up your statements with documentation. For example, bank receipts or a letter from the bank documenting frequent high dollar deposits, copies of police reports or case docket numbers and contacts, etc.
Again, research the policies of your local Police department or County Sheriff in regards to what they will accept for good cause. Some publish it, most don’t. Your best bet is to write what you think is your good cause, then ask people on this site to review it. They will be able to give you feedback and usually help you clean it up a little bit. What they won’t do is manufacture your good cause or write it for you – please don’t ask.
You will likely be verbally telling an investigator during an interview what your good cause is, so make sure you aren’t going to miss any points. It’s generally recommended to print out a written statement as to your good cause as well, and you may be able to get the investigator to take a copy.
Training does not need to be done until the application has already been submitted. Some counties will send a letter to the effect of “Approved for Further Processing” that will contain details on required training.
In summary, don’t worry about the training until after you apply. Several CCW trainers are members of this site, although you won’t see them blatantly advertising their services, you will likely be able to get a recommendation from other members.
There are several fees involved. They will vary from agency to agency, but as a guideline:
• $70 - $125 - Department of Justice (fingerprints & background check)
• $100 – Local processing fee
• Training – varies, typically no more than $250, at most.
This will vary greatly by city and county, but figure 6 weeks at a minimum. Some counties are very backed up and can take months for an appointment, others will hit even under 6 weeks. They have been known to expedite in cases of greater need.
Last edited by Admin : 09-10-2007 at 12:19 PM. Reason: Added 2006 DOJ statistics link