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Calif. Federal Judge: Concealed Carry Requires Specific Threat

May 17, 2011  | 

A U.S. District Court judge has sided with a northern California sheriff's policy of issuing concealed-carry permits only to applicants who face a specific safety threat.

In a Monday ruling, Judge Morrison England Jr. in Sacramento endorsed Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto's approach. In his opinion, Judge England wrote that the Second Amendment "does not create a fundamental right to carry a concealed weapon in public."

Sheriff Prieto was sued by advocates who say sheriffs and police chiefs should issue the permits to applicants as long as they aren't mentally ill, do not have a criminal background, and complete a training course. Most of the state's 58 sheriffs follow a similar policy, according to Merced County Sheriff Mark M. Pazin.

Sheriff Pazin, who is also president of the California State Sheriff's Association, strongly supports top law enforcement personnel vetting concealed-carry permits.

"Basically you have gun rights advocates challenging the discretion of sheriffs mostly and some police chiefs," Sheriff Pazin tells POLICE Magazine. "People have the right to bear arms at their residence or transfer [a weapon] safely to a place of business. To take that discretion away from the local sheriff or police chief is a recipe for disaster."

A sheriff's or chief's reasoning for issuing a concealed-carry permit varies. Sheriff Pazin said he looks for a "constant and reported threat against your life" that's been documented in a law enforcement report.

He has issued permits to people threatened by a stalker after a bad breakup and night workers with specialty equipment.

Similar lawsuits challenging concealed-carry permit issuing have been filed in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.

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