The Cowboy Capital of the World may be a reference to the Old West history of Oakdale, but so far as the shoot-’em up Wild West, not so much, as measured by permits to carry concealed weapons (CCW) in the city of 20,000. Those with a permit can take loaded guns to the store, their workplace, and other public places as long as the firearm is not visible and is not prohibited by private property rules.
According to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, of the 2717 issued concealed weapons permits countywide, only 386 are given to those with an Oakdale address. Analysis showed the permits are spread throughout the county, but certain cities — Modesto and Turlock — have a higher concentration of licensees. Hundreds more individuals are in the application process countywide awaiting approval.
In 2008, the US Supreme Court struck down restrictive conditions where previously police chiefs and sheriffs in the state required applicants to show evidence their safety was at such great risk that it could only be addressed by giving them a permit to carry a gun. Generally, permits were only issued to private investigators, business owners that carried large sums of cash, judicial officers, and reserve police officers.
Sworn police officers and retired police officers are exempt from needing a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
A CCW permit may include conditions such as restrictions from carrying in drinking establishments, airports, and some government buildings. Senate Bill 707 is currently on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signing that would also restrict CCW holders from packing a gun on a school or college campus.
Last year, the Ninth Circuit of California ruled on a San Diego based challenge that required applicants to show a specific need for a concealed weapons permit stating it violated the right to bear arms granted by the Second Amendment. Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain said the right to bear arms “includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense.”
According O’Scannlain in the majority opinion, the risk of armed confrontation was “not limited to the home.”
There are no consistent statewide standards for concealed weapons permit issuance. Instead in California, each agency, from the smallest police department to the largest sheriff’s office, develops its own standard. Those standards can be based on politics, area population, personal opinion, and budget cuts. At any time, for any reason, an agency can change its policy.
In 2010, Sheriff Adam Christianson offered a more relaxed policy on concealed weapons permits than previous years. The department began issuing hundreds more of the gun permits to county residents with “good moral character” that desired to obtain a weapon for self-defense or for personal safety reasons after taking a training course.
The City and County of San Francisco has a far more restrictive stance, according to state figures. The sheriff of that county, Ross Mirkarimi, has not issued a single permit, and the city police chief, Greg Suhr, has only issued two.
Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins said he only issues CCW permits to the city’s reserve police officers. All others are referred to the sheriff’s department for their application.
Under current state law, a police chief can require CCW applicants to apply with the sheriff for license processing.