In order to speed up the review of applications for permits to carry concealed weapons, Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff has directed staff to use some surplus funds to hire more trained part-time staffing, according to an RC Sheriff’s press release. These people will be selected from available retirees to temporarily increase the size of the department’s Carry Concealed Weapon unit.

The intent is to dramatically reduce the large backlog of CCW applications. The current backlog has resulted in a two-year wait simply to begin the processing of a CCW application. The actual processing time is still only the normal 30 to 60 days.

These funds are intended to at least double the size of the unit to dramatically reduce the backlog. The CCW unit has three full-time and two part-time staff.

CCWs are issued pursuant to California statutes for both “good cause and good moral character” by either California county sheriffs to any county resident, or by local city police chiefs to their own city residents.

CCWs are not required to purchase or to own a firearm in California. They are legally required if a handgun — loaded or unloaded — is carried concealed into public areas such as driving on roads, going to the market, sports events or other areas open to the public.

Few city police chiefs issue CCWs to their residents for fear of diverting precious staff resources. The few police departments that do so in Riverside County add requirements, and tend to have much higher fees and other requirements, such as psychological testing. In large part, the overwhelming demand is due to the Sheriff’s Department dealing with CCW requests from all 2.4 million residents of the county, and not simply the 1.4 million for which it is responsible for policing.

The CCW fees that can be charged are capped by California statutes and are not adequate for full cost recovery.

The sheriff has long encouraged CCW issuance to responsible residents of Riverside County, and the Sheriff’s Department continues to exercise “due diligence” and carefully screens every applicant before issuance of CCW permits, according to the press release.

Prior to the December 2015 Inland Empire terrorist incident, the Sheriff’s Department typically took 60 to 90 days to process CCWs. After that incident, overwhelming demand for CCWs occurred. This demand has continued to dramatically increase with each new mass shooting in the news.

A decade ago, CCWs issued by the department totaled roughly 500. Currently, active two-year permits total nearly 3,300. Each year sets a new record in numbers issued.

Information on the CCW application process is at www.riversidesheriff.org under “Firearms.”

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