Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion said his department will comply with a federal appeals court decision that keeps a lower ruling in place that loosens restrictions on carrying concealed weapons.
“We will follow the law,” Obligacion said.
The police chief indicated that implementation of a revised department policy regarding concealed weapon carry permits won’t go into effect until language has been reviewed by the city attorney’s office.
There are currently 28 concealed carry permits that have been issued by the Manteca Police.
Obligacion said the extensive background checks required are handled by only one officer — a department captain — who has other duties. A significant uptick in concealed carry applications would mean the time frame from the point of applying to receiving a permit will be longer.
Basically, law-abiding citizens who successfully complete state required classes and range certification as well as pass a background check can obtain permits if they make it clear it is for their self defense.
Besides an extensive background check that includes the department verifying references, applicants are required to successfully complete a 16-hour, two-day training class. For applicants at the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office, the cost runs to just under $500 once the processing fees and the class costs are taken into account. Concealed carry permits must be renewed every two years. That requires a four-hour class plus application fees. Renewals through the sheriff’s office cost around $150. Manteca fees would be comparable since the city only charges what is needed to cover their costs.
Obligacion, who emphasized that he supports gun rights, said he hopes common sense prevails with individuals that seek and obtain concealed carry permits.
His concern is that law enforcement officers — as well as the general public — could be placed in jeopardy if an officer arrives on scene and someone with a concealed carry permit has pulled out a weapon in response to a criminal using one.
The police chief said the officer would be forced to contain both individuals with guns and try to sort out who is the suspect and who isn’t.
Another concern is that individuals with a concealed weapon may try to intervene in a crime such as a bank robbery and end up getting killed.
A scenario the chief painted was one where one or more robbers were brandishing weapons and an individual with a concealed weapon drew his gun not realizing a third robber was in the crowd behind him that ends up pulling out his gun and shooting him.
A similar incident happened at a Las Vegas Wal-Mart where a shopper with a concealed weapon permit pulled his weapon on a gunman not realizing his accomplice was also in the store. The Good Samaritan ended up getting killed by being shot in the head.
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9th District struck down ‘good cause’ requirement
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in February struck down the San Diego sheriff’s requirement that applicants must show a “good cause” beyond self-defense to obtain a permit as an infringement of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
The 9th Circuit said requiring applicants to show they were in immediate danger or otherwise had a “good cause” for a permit was too restrictive. If the ruling stands, concealed weapon permit applicants will still have to pass background checks and undergo training.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked the court to reconsider that ruling after the San Diego sheriff declined to appeal. Harris argues that loosening concealed weapon permitting standards and allowing more people to carry guns threatens law enforcement officials and endangers the public.
Last week, the same three-judge panel by the same 2-1 vote barred Harris and the advocacy group the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence from intervening in the case. The court said Harris and the Brady Center waited too long to try to interject themselves in a case originally filed in 2009.
C.D. Michel, a guns right lawyer who often represents the National Rifle Association, said the ruling striking down the “good cause” requirement “was a long overdue recognition of the right to obtain a license to carry a firearm to defend yourself.”
David Beltran, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said it was reviewing the 9th Circuit ruling to determine its next step, which could include a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The attorney general has also asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider a separate, but similar, ruling that struck down Yolo County’s concealed weapons policy as too restrictive. The 9th Circuit hasn’t ruled on that matter.
After the February ruling, concealed weapon applications spiked and counties have reacted differently.
Orange County has issued hundreds of concealed weapons since February without requiring “good cause,” but other counties such as San Diego have been waiting for a final court ruling before approving applications listing only self-defense as a reason for wanting to carry a concealed weapon.
Legal experts said the initial ruling by the appeals court relied heavily on a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that law-abiding citizens have a fundamental right to keep handguns in the home for self-defense. The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t address whether that right extended outside the home. The 9th Circuit panel concluded it did.
“A right to bear arms is no right at all if you need to demonstrate a need to carry that firearm which satisfies the police,” said Joyce Malcolm, a law professor at George Mason University law school.
— Associated Press contributed to this report.