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Yuba-Sutter gun ownership, concealed weapon permits exploding
John Lahr is just one of a growing number of local residents looking to legally carry a concealed firearm.
"The whole process is a little tedious," the 32-year-old Marysville man explained. "I have my paperwork submitted, I'm going to take the class and then the background check."
Applications to carry concealed weapons have spiked just about everywhere in Northern California in recent months, including in Yuba-Sutter.
"There's been a dramatic increase in applications in the last few years," Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said. "I think it's reflective of uncertainty in the world and more people feeling vulnerable with increased talk of gun control restrictions."
Sutter County Sheriff J. Paul Parker has seen the same trend.
"Five years ago, we had 650 permits. Now we're at 1,174," Parker noted.
Business is booming for private firearms instructors like Tom Oakes in Yuba City and Randy Riney in Plumas Lake.
"It's been a tremendous spike," said Oakes, who operates Feather River Firearms Training. "A lot of it does come down to people believing (firearms) could be banned, but also there's a lot of people who just want to protect themselves."
Riney, who operates NorCal Guns and Ammo Instruction, doesn't teach the concealed weapons course, but offers other classes for beginners. Riney said many people are learning to use guns for the first time.
"I've been pretty surprised at the numbers of new customers with no experience or background," Riney said. "A lot of people that have never considered owning a gun before are now getting started."
Frequently, applicant approval largely depends on where you live, as each county sheriff has latitude in determining who gets approved or denied.
"In more metropolitan areas, they require a larger or more specific reason for having a (concealed weapon)," Parker said. "In rural areas, we have more general, less restrictive need."
Parker and Durfor said, assuming the applicant meets basic requirements, they accept applications simply for "self-protection."
Parker said while he supports responsible permit holders, he does not believe California should adopt "shall-issue" requirements.
"Some states are now 'shall-issue,' but in California we still have the option to issue or not," Parker explained.
Parker said allowing local law enforcement discretion is a more efficient system because there can be personal issues that don't necessarily show up during a standard background check.
"If a person's known to get in a lot of bar fights, but hasn't necessarily been convicted of anything, that matters," Parker said.
Parker also said a person's known drug use is a factor in determining whether to approve an application. For example, a medical marijuana user would likely be denied a concealed weapons permit in Sutter County.
"The federal government lists marijuana as a narcotic and, if you're a narcotics user, you can't have a concealed firearm," Parker said. "If the federal government didn't list marijuana as a narcotic, then it would be a different story."
In Yuba County, medical marijuana use alone wouldn't automatically disqualify a concealed-carry application, the Yuba County sheriff said.
"It would be something we would consider and weigh," Durfor said. "But, by itself, it wouldn't be a reason to not issue the permit."
Obama’s re-election a boon for gun stores
By Rob Parsons
Many gun owners are calling it "Firearm-ageddon."
Gun purchases have exploded since early November and local merchants are struggling to keep merchandise on their shelves.
Sales of firearms and ammunition have been so brisk recently that gun shop owners like Roy Whiteaker say the trend is actually starting to harm business.
"It's hurting sales now because there's just nothing left to sell," said Whiteaker, owner of Guns and Ammo Outlet in Yuba City. "I can't get my hands on anything."
Lee Smith, managing partner at Shooters Paradise in Yuba City, said sales have been "through the roof."
"I've seen so many new faces and our range membership has quadrupled," Smith said. "The largest increase we've seen is in women using the range."
Gun enthusiasts like Yuba City's Jason Matsui said buying ammunition is just about as difficult.
"You can't even get ammunition anymore," he said. "People are starting to stockpile it in their homes."
Every Yuba-Sutter gun shop is seeing the same trend, authorities said.
"People are buying whatever they can get their hands on and even the manufacturers are out of everything," said Becky King, co-owner of TJ Norths in Marysville. "Some suppliers are saying things may loosen up in June; others are saying they are a year out with no relief in sight."
Gun owners cited the same reason for what could be the historic, sustained sales spike: The re-election of President Barack Obama.
Concern over potential Obama gun control policies erupted in a frenzied nationwide gun grab after the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 students under the age of 8.
Firearm supporters did not wait to hear what government representatives would actually propose before clearing out local gun stores.
"People are under the impression that a lot of regulations are coming that are going to affect their ability to own a gun and their ability to protect themselves and their families," said Jon Burton, a Yuba City gun owner.
While none of the federal or state gun control proposals put forth so far have included confiscation of handguns or rifles, many believe such a proposal could be on the horizon.
Smith said it's a matter of trust, and few gun owners have any confidence in the government.
"I think there's a general distrust of the current administration because it seems they say one thing and do another," Smith said.
For firearm enthusiasts, waiting for government officials to vote on a final plan seems foolish.
"Nobody knows what the plan will actually turn out to be, but people are really worried about it," said Greg Rudstrom Jr., co-owner of Sutter Orchard Supply in Yuba City. "There was a big push kind of like this when (Obama) was first elected, but it was never to this capacity. It was nothing like this has been."
HOW MUCH DO PERMITS COST?
Obtaining a concealed-carry permit takes time and money. In Yuba County, new permits cost $205 and renewals are $60. In Sutter County, a new permits runs $132 and renewals go for $60.50. Both applications are about 20 pages long.
Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor and Sutter County Sheriff J. Paul Parker said just looking at the numbers of permits issued might lead many to think that card-holders walk around armed all the time, but that's usually not the case.
"In my experience, it's less than 10 percent that carry all the time," Parker said. "Most people just keep one in their vehicle because they tend to live or work in rural areas and want the protection. In remote areas, it can take law enforcement some time to get to their location and they want to be able to defend themselves."
— Rob Parsons
1,174 active permits
67 CCW applications submitted last month compared to 39 in January 2012
732 active permits
37 submitted last month compared to seven in January 2012
84 active permits
One was submitted last month compared to none in January 2012
Lawmakers walk fine line
Many lawmakers have tried to walk a line between supporting both Second Amendment advocates and gun control supporters.
US Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, chaired the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force that submitted its list of new gun control proposals on Thursday.
"As a hunter and gun owner, I believe we should protect law-abiding individuals' Second Amendment right to own firearms," Thompson said in a statement. "As a father and grandfather, I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, neighborhoods and communities safe."
Speaking Saturday at a town hall forum in Marysville, US Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, expressed support for some gun control legislation, but was quick to identify himself as a Second Amendment supporter.
"There are things that we all can agree on and the areas of agreement are large," Garamendi said.
Garamendi did not say if he supports the task force recommendations. He did say he believes guns should be kept out of the hands of convicted felons and the mentally ill.
White House Gun Control Proposals
- Strengthen background checks on all gun sales.
- A new, more aggressive assault weapons ban.
- A 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
- Reinstate government-funded gun violence research.
- Protect police and sheriff's deputies by banning armor-piercing bullets.
- Provide resource for to hire more school -resource officers.
-Provide mental health coverage in health insurance plans.
Proposals from the US House of Representatives
-"Support citizens' rights to possess firearms for hunting, shooting sports, defense, and other lawful and legitimate purposes."
-Reinstate and strengthen a prospective federal ban on assault weapons and magazines.
-Require a background check for every gun sale.
-Strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database
-Prosecute those prohibited buyers who attempt to purchase firearms.
-Pass legislation aimed specifically at cracking down on illegal gun trafficking and straw-purchasing.
-Restore funding for public safety and law enforcement initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence.
-Close the holes in our mental-health system and make sure that care is available for those who need it.
-Help communities get unwanted and illegal guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them.
-Support responsible gun ownership, including funding of safety training and research for gun-safety technologies and safe storage.
-Take steps to enhance school safety.
-Address violent movies, music and video games that "glorify" gun violence.
California Senate Democrats' legislative proposals
-Prohibit the future sale, purchase, manufacture, importation, or transfer in California of semiautomatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines.
-Ban possession of large capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds.
-Bullet button ban - would close "the loophole" that has allowed the gun industry to distribute modification tools to rapidly detach and replace magazines from semiautomatic rifles.
-Update the definition of a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination.
-Require ownership record of all guns.
-Require anyone buying ammunition in California to obtain a permit first by passing a background check.
-Legislative action preventing unregulated gun loans, with exceptions that include hunting.
-Legislative action will establish a safety certificate for handguns, mirroring the training currently required annually to lawfully carry a concealed weapon.