The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) will once again start issuing Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) licenses as Council voted unanimously to adopt the proposed fee of $617 for new applicants. Previously, the SMPD would refer all applications to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).

However, following a recent Supreme Court ruling in June 2022, the LASD has seen an influx of applications that’s exceeded their processing ability. Winning with a 6–3 decision in the case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, the majority ruled that New York’s law was unconstitutional and that the ability to carry a pistol in public was a constitutional right under the Second Amendment.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, there was a requirement within the California state law that required “good cause” to issue a CCW. Applicants have to show that danger would be significantly mitigated by the applicant’s carrying of a concealed firearm.

Following that ruling, California Attorney General Rob Bonta has stated that the state’s “good cause” requirement is also likely unconstitutional as well and should not be enforced.

Prior to March 1, 2017, SMPD handled all requests from Santa Monica residents. After this date however, policy was changed so that all CCW requests were referred to the LASD, but it wasn’t until after the Supreme Court ruling that applications for independent municipalities, like Santa Monica, exceeded the capacity of the Sheriff’s Department.

During Tuesday evening’s Council meeting, Sgt. Scott McGee of the SMPD explained what a CCW means. “A concealed carry weapons license allows a citizen to legally carry a pistol, revolver or other firearm capable of being concealed upon their person.

“A license to carry can be issued by the sheriff, the county or the chief of the municipal police department, pursuant to the Penal Code,” McGee said. “State law allows for a person to be issued a permit if they meet certain requirements.”

According to McGee the individual must be a resident of Santa Monica, be of good moral character, have completed firearms training and a qualification, be at least 21 years of age and be free from any criminal convictions that might disqualify the applicant.

Councilmember Oscar de la Torre asked if the two-year renewal process included a repeat psychological examination, to which McGee replied “no” and that to conduct the examination every two years the SMPD would “have to have very specific and articulable reasons why we feel that they [the individual seeking to carry a handgun, hidden from view, in public] would need to have another one.”

According to the City, LASD currently has approximately 150 applications in various phases of the process for Santa Monica applicants: 83 in queue, 46 already approved, 9 denied and 11 inactive.

“So, in the City of Santa Monica, 46 residents have a license to carry a concealed weapon…” de la Torre reiterated. “And just so that we understand,” he added, “Realistically, when can you pull that weapon out? What would constitute a legal way to utilize that weapon? And then what would be illegal, so that we understand exactly what we’re talking about here?”

“I think the situation there will dictate a little bit. I haven’t seen anything within the Penal Code as it relates to CCWs and when they can and cannot [sic].” McGee replied. “In light of a life threatening situation or where there’s a moment of serious bodily injury to yourself or someone else may and they feel that there’s no other possible solution to that scenario.”

Mayor Gleam Davis remarked that recently and within the state of California, she had seen a notice on a business window that said “No guns allowed inside” and asked if there was any ability to control where someone actually carries a concealed weapon, like the pier, for example. City Attorney, Douglas Sloan, answered, “Yes, there are some limitations for example. They could be prohibited from all city government buildings and so forth.”

However, legal details on this issue are still currently being developed and debated as City Manager David White explained. “There’s actually some state legislation being developed and debated in the state and is supported by the governor that does have a number of different restrictions about where you can carry a gun. It will cover places like buildings, schools, places of worship and things like that.”

White was referring to something called SB2 that lists almost everywhere you really don’t want anyone to be able to bring a loaded firearm to, but it hasn’t been passed into law yet.

The proposed use of a third party service to streamline the application process with a fee of $617 for new applicants was passed unanimously. Of that, $398 for new applications and $348 for renewals would go to the vendor. These costs do not include other fees for fingerprinting, psychological evaluation and a range safety course. The additional $219 would cover mounting administrative and processing costs.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.