Carry Concealed Weapon Permits More than Double in Two Years
RIVERSIDE COUNTY — When Chad Bianco took over as Riverside County Sheriff in January 2019 approximately 3,000 to 3,400 Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permits had been issued, according to Bianco. Today, two years later, more than 9,000 permits have been issued.
The surge is due in part to moving the application process online. Early in Bianco’s tenure, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department partnered with Permitium to develop a paperless CCW application process. This new CCW program allows applicants to apply for a CCW online, upload the required documents, and pay by debit or credit card for a nominal convenience fee. This program also allows applicants to schedule an appointment with the CCW Unit and receive text and/or email reminders.
“It’s common sense to make it online,” Bianco told Uken Report. “Why in today’s age of technology would we do things by paper, mail, or hand deliver, and drag down the system? Online is easier for the applicant, and easier on the investigator in terms of the need for easy review and individual communication. This online process is far more efficient for us and for applicants.”
The increase in permits issued is also because staff members are “actually processing” the requests as they come in, Bianco said.
“Regardless of what anyone says, or would like to believe, this was not happening prior to January 2019,” Bianco said. “The ‘backlog’ was self-created, artificial, and meant to dissuade people from applying. It also provided cover as to why it was difficult to obtain a permit in Riverside County.”
Part of the spike could also be the result of moving the CCW unit to a larger location. Effective April 8, 2019 the CCW Unit returned to the Ben Clark Training Center, 16791 Davis Avenue, in Riverside, where it was once housed. The move allows free parking for CCW applicants and a larger office space to process applications, conduct background checks, and issue identification cards to those that are approved to carry a concealed firearm.
Today, there is also a part-time team set up at the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station several days per week to help process CCW applications.
A California Concealed Carry Weapon allows a person to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person. A Standard Concealed Carry Weapon license is valid for 2 years and requires the completion of a 4-hour firearms training course prior to renewal.
CCWs were a flashpoint in the 2018 race for Riverside County Sheriff between Bianco and former Sheriff Stan Sniff. He accused Bianco of wanting to hand out CCWs like “popcorn.” There were also accusations of a “backlog” of CCW applications.
Uken Report asked Bianco about some of these issues.
Uken Report (UR): What is the cost of a CCW permit?
Sheriff Bianco: The total cost will vary depending on what training facility/trainer the applicant chooses to utilize. The cost due to the Sheriff’s Department for the actual permit has not changed, it is $195.00. There is a fee charged by Permitium to use the online service of $4 and $3.75 credit card processing fee. Technically you could say the overall cost was increased by $7.75.
UR: How big was the permit backlog when you took office?
Sheriff Bianco: Technically there was not a “backlog.” It was fabricated by scheduling applicants so far in the future they either didn’t schedule, or stayed on the wait list for years. This term really bothers me, and the investigators in the unit. There was no backlog, that term was used as cover to avoid the truth that permits were not easily obtained or issued prior to me taking over.
There is no backlog and we do not use that term any longer! We currently have a total of 17 outside vendors where applicants can take the required classes and qualify with their firearms. All of the vendors are approved through the CCW unit, and we work closely with them to ensure they comply with our requirements.
UR: Are you all caught up now?
Sheriff Bianco: At this point we are not. We were caught up in March of 2020 before COVID and the nationwide protests/riots. We went from a three- to six-week processing time to several months. Currently there are nearly 3,000 permit applications pending in the Permitium system. Our investigators are working very hard to process them as quickly as possible. If you apply now, your appointment date might appear three to four months into the future. However, the real time is cut in half or less as we process them.
UR: Have you rejected any applications? If so, on what basis?
Sheriff Bianco: Yes, I have rejected plenty of applications. I have also suspended permits in some cases. Each applicant/application is evaluated to ensure they are law-abiding residents with good moral character. Most applicants who are denied are dishonest in their application, withhold information they hope or assume we will not find out, or have recent criminal convictions or prior convictions that could disqualify them. Each application is different and evaluated by an investigator. Most suspensions are because we were notified of arrest, the relocation of the applicant outside of our county, or other unique situation which could disqualify them from meeting the minimum requirements of good moral character.
UR: Anything you would like to add as it pertains to CCW permits?
Sheriff Bianco: We have a very dedicated team processing these applications. They understand the significance of their role and take their jobs very seriously. I am very proud of the professionalism, work ethic, and dedication of our investigators assigned to the CCW unit, and I am confident they will continue to provide Riverside County residents the service they expect.
- Conceal Carry Weapon: Shutterstock