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Council Sets Fees for Concealed Carry Weapon Licenses

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By Jorge Casuso

March 15, 2023 -- Santa Monica residents will pay $617 for a concealed carry weapon (CCW) license after the LA County Sheriff's Department (LASD), which charged $150, stopped processing them for the city.

The Council's decision Tuesday comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last June found that New York's law requiring a "proper cause" to carry a concealed weapon violates the 14th Amendment.

The ruling -- which rendered a similar California law unconstitutional, spurred an influx of applications, prompting LASD to stop processing them as of August 1, 2022 for independent municipalities within its jurisdiction, like Santa Monica.

According to City staff's report to the Council, LASD currently has approximately 150 applications filed by Santa Monica residents "in various phases of the process." Of those, most -- 83 -- are "in the queue," staff said.

The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) sought external vendors "to facilitate and establish a streamlined CCW license process that would enable the department to provide a timely high level of service to its residents without impacting staff workload," City staff wrote.

On Tuesday the Council voted to contract with My CCW, which is "staffed with POST-certified background investigators, data and technical specialists and support staff" that can "conduct the interviews and background checks."

"The background process includes verification of application, CCW License Request Packet review, in-person interview, address verification, review of local and county records, guiding the applicant to Live Scan, psychological exam, and range safety course," staff wrote.

Staff estimates it would take the Police Department ten hours of work per application at an estimated cost of $1,093.83. By hiring My CCW the cost would drop to $617 -- $219 for SMPD staff time and $398 for the contractor's services.

The Council set the renewal fee at $150, five times more than the $30 charged by the Sheriff's Department.

Councilmember Caroline Torosis asked if the Council had "the authority" to charge more than than the $617 per application eventually approved.

"Should we recover more than just our cost?" Torosis asked. "Especially if we are not trying to incentivize everyone to go out there and get a CCW permit."

"There would be a risk to that," City Attorney Doug Sloan responded.

Sloan pointed to the the Supreme Court decision that renders unconstitutional California's law requiring an applicant for a CCW to show good cause.

Under California law, staff wrote, "good cause shall exist only if there is convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, spouse, or dependent child."

The applicant must show that the danger "cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources" or "reasonably avoided by alternative measures" and "would be significantly mitigated by the applicant’s carrying of a concealed firearm."

In a 6-3 ruling on June 23, the Supreme Court found that requiring a "proper cause" to legally carry a concealed weapon violates the 14th Amendment because it prevents "law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense."

According to staff, a number of police departments in LA County have already hired My CCW, including those in Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Baldwin Park, La Verne and Signal Hill.

Signal Hill and Manhattan Beach are paying the same rate as Santa Monica -- $398 per application -- while LAPD is paying $268 and Baldwin Park is paying $498.

After voting on the new contractor and fees, the City Council unanimously approved a motion by Mayor Gleam Davis to direct staff to explore banning legally carried guns in certain public spaces.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court made exceptions for "sensitive places," including schools, government buildings and polling places where guns are already banned under prior rulings.

Palto Alto Online reported that "various cities and states are testing the boundaries of 'sensitive places' by adopting new prohibitions on where concealed firearms can be carried."

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