As we recently reported, following the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals order to rehear Peruta, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens decided to abandon her policy of accepting self-defense as “good cause” for a CCW and to revert back to her pre-Peruta policy, requiring individual applicants to articulate and document a heightened individualized safety concern to be issued a CCW license, a hurdle that few applicants could likely meet. The Sheriff’s announcement of this policy change stated that all individuals currently in the application process would be required to resubmit their “good cause” statements under the new higher standard, even those who had already been determined to have “good cause” and were nearing the end of the application process.
The NRA and CRPA immediately stated their opposition to the Sheriff’s decision, and encouraged their memberships to contact the Sheriff and express their opposition to the policy change. The NRA and CRPA also submitted a letter to Sheriff Hutchens explaining that her claim that she is legally obligated to enforce a strict “good cause” policy is erroneous, and that, thanks to an NRA and CRPA sponsored bill, she is prohibited from requiring applicants who have already had their “good cause” statements approved from re-submitting those statements under the new standard.
Sandra Hutchens Responds to NRA & CRPA Letter
On April 22, 2015, NRA-CRPA attorneys received a response from Sheriff Hutchens to their letter. In her response, Sheriff Hutchens indicates that there are currently over 2,500 applicants in the process of applying for a CCW license in Orange County, 1,700 of which had already had their good cause statements approved before the en banc order in Peruta. Fortunately, thanks to the NRA – CRPA letter, the Sheriff has agreed to not subject those 1,700 applicants to her new, strict good cause standard. This means that if you already had an interview and were told you have “good cause” and should proceed to training, you will be deemed to have satisfied the “good cause” requirement. The NRA and CRPA applaud her decision in this regard.
Unfortunately, the Sheriff’s response leaves many questions unanswered, namely what is required to be issued a CCW license in Orange County? But what the letter does make clear is that it is the Sheriff’s position, not the law that is the reason for the policy change. As she shows repeatedly in her response, stating: “my policies indicated that non-specific, general concerns about personal safety were insufficient,” and that this “has been my position since taking office.” Any Sheriff can choose, as a policy matter, to accept the rationale of the Peruta decision voluntarily, even if they are not required to do so by the court. Sheriffs have the discretion to accept self-defense as “good cause” for a carry license and many California sheriffs do. Just like those sheriffs, Sheriff Hutchens can also continue to issue under a “shall-issue” standard, regardless of the status of the Peruta case, but has made the policy choice not to.
Contact Sheriff Hutchens
If you have a CCW application pending with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, you should contact the officer handling your file to determine whether the Sheriff’s letter affects you and how. All Orange County residents are also encouraged to contact Sheriff Hutchens to thank her for engaging the NRA and CRPA on this matter, but also to respectfully express their opposition to her adoption of a strict good cause standard. Call or submit a comment using the following methods below, and tell your friends and family to do the same.
- Call the Public Affairs Office of the Sheriff: (714) 647-7042
- Submit a comment to the Sheriff here.
- Tell the Orange County Board of Supervisors know that you oppose the Sheriff’s policy change here.
NRA Backed Litigation Against Sheriff Hutchens
Even before the Peruta decision was issued, and in response to continuing complaints from Orange County firearm owners and Second Amendment civil rights activists over Hutchens’ restrictive CCW policy, attorneys for the NRA filed a federal lawsuit in 2012 challenging that policy. That case is McKay v. Hutchens. Like Peruta, the lawsuit seeks to compel Sheriff Hutchens to issue licenses for self-defense. That case was stayed pending final resolution of Peruta and is still currently stayed. But if Peruta is upheld, the court in the McKay case will be bound by it.
Help Us Help You
Please help us fight for your right to choose to own a gun for sport, or to defend yourself and your family. The NRA and CRPA work together in California to fight for you in Sacramento, in cities and counties across the state, in regulatory agencies, and in the courts. Even with the generous rates that our tem of civil rights attorneys, legislative advocates, experts and consultants grant us these ongoing efforts are still expensive. You can support our pro-Second Amendment efforts in California by donating to the CRPA Foundation (CRPAF). CRPAF is a 501(c)(3), so contributions to CRPAF are tax-deductible. Or donate to the NRA Legal Action Project. All donations will be spent to specifically benefit California gun owners.
Second Amendment supporters should be careful about supporting litigation or other efforts promised by other individuals and groups that lack the experience, resources, skills, or legal talent to be successful. The NRA and CRPA’s national team of highly regarded civil rights attorneys, legislative advocates, and scholars has the experience, resources, skills, and expertise needed to maximize the potential for victory in California’s often hostile political environments.
For a summary of current and recent actions the NRA and CRPA have taken on behalf of California gun owners, including the groundbreaking Peruta case, click here. To read about some of the past actions the NRA and CRPA have taken to fight for your Second Amendment rights in California, click here.