Despite Injunction, Challenges Remain for Californians Trying to Bear Arms

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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

The exhaustive list of no-go zones for concealed carry licensees imposed by SB 2 may be on hold, but Californians trying to obtain a carry license of their own are still facing a nearly impossible hurdle at the moment.

The new ‘sensitive places’ weren’t the only changes to California gun laws to take effect on January 1. There are new training and certification requirements for firearm instructors as well, with CalDOJ no longer viewing NRA certification as an acceptable credential. The agency has promulgated its own standards, but with NRA instructors unable to teach concealed carry classes, there’s a growing bottleneck of residents unable to go through the mandated training and submit their applications.

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.”

It’s bad enough that the state has now doubled the required number of training hours, which is going to be a major imposition for many applicants. Putting the new mandate in place without telling instructors how they can become certified, though, is adding even more injury to the insults delivered by Gov. Gavin Newsom and his anti-gun allies in Sacramento.

The state DOJ describes the new regulations as necessary due to what it described as a public safety emergency of people not allowed to carry concealed weapons still getting permits. But several Fresno-area instructors say they are left on uncertain ground.
“Why all of the sudden did this come up when I’ve been teaching this course for 15 years?” said Curt Hamett, of the Police Science Institute, a Fresno-based organization that offers concealed carry permit classes and other specialized training for security guards and other private security jobs.
Said Sam Carter, another Fresno-area instructor: “We still haven’t got the guidelines required for us to re-qualify.”

The California Rifle & Pistol Association provided an update to members on Monday confirming that the “emergency” regulations for instructors issued by CalDOJ have caused concealed carry courses to come to a screeching halt in large swathes of the state.

Basically, the regulations, as written, would make it impossible for a large majority of current CCW instructors to meet the qualifications and would force them to go through additional and arbitrary training and certifications in order to meet those standards, thus putting CCW classes on hold in many counties. This is a blatant attempt to stop so many CCW licenses from being issued since the Bruen decision, which took away California’s “may issue” standard.
Many counties have chosen to continue their CCW courses even with these additional standards because they understand that CCW holders are some of the more law-abiding citizens in the state. CCW holders already follow the rules, and therefore, these overbearing new regulations for the instructors are unnecessary. You need to check with your individual county on the process. Other counties are being forced to look at their current CCW training and have stopped issuing CCW licenses until they can understand what would be required of them and how to implement these changes. In some counties, the CCW division officers could not even conduct the training because they would not qualify under these regulations.

This absolutely seems like it’s meant to artificially suppress the number of concealed carry licenses in the state, and I’m curious to see just how many county sheriffs are attempting to opt out of the new requirements and allow instructors to continue teaching their courses. For now, CRPA is encouraging gun owners to keep submitting their applications and renewals under their county’s guidelines, but are urging patience as licensing authorities (at least the ones who recognize and respect our Second Amendment rights) try to navigate these new impositions from CalDOJ.

Today’s applicant could be tomorrow’s plaintiff, especially if they’re unable to acquire a carry permit in a timely manner. The Supreme Court has already stated that even “shall issue” regimes can be unconstitutional depending on lengthy delays or exorbitant costs, and California looks to be putting that edict to the test with SB 2s crippling of the right to carry.

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