The Los Angeles Times conducted an “investigation” into Sheriff Alex Villanueva over CCW permits. According to the Times, Villanueva played favorites and sped up the concealed carry permitting process for his donors.
Not surprisingly, the legacy outlet took things a step further when they slammed Villanueva for approving CCW permits for those that were previously denied.
Based on the statistics the Times provided, Sheriff Villanueva’s office approved 18 times the number of permits compared to previous administrations.
“The Sheriff’s Department gave out just 20 permits in 2015, 32 the following year and 76 in 2017, according to figures provided by the department,” the Times wrote. “…In 2020, Villanueva said he would increase by five times the number of people permitted to arm themselves in public. At that time, just 155 people in the county of 10 million had CCW permits issued by the department. By late May, that number had swelled to more than 2,800 — an eighteenfold increase. “
Sheriff Villanueva’s View on CCW Permits
California has always been a “may issue” state, meaning it’s up to residents to prove they have a “need” for a CCW permit. Sheriffs can use their discretion to determine whether or not someone’s reason for wanting a concealed carry permit is valid or not. Even before the Bruen decision, Villanueva was unlike other sheriffs. He seemed to agree with most of us on what grounds are “reasonable.”
“If you’re working as a real estate agent, female real estate agent, you’re showing houses, you know, by yourself — for me that’s good enough,” Villanueva told a group of attendees at a town hall meeting in 2021. “Same thing if you’re in a business, you have cash receipts, you do deposits at the bank. That’s good enough as well. All we’re asking for is a reasonable explanation on the good cause.”
Previously-denied applicants reapplied and some were approved on Villanueva’s watch. The Times takes issue with it because a handful of those CCW permit holders donated to Villanueva’s re-election campaign.
Digging for Private Information
The most concerning aspect of this hit piece? “Investigators” at the Los Angeles Times believe they’re entitled to review applications submitted to the sheriff’s office.
The Sheriff’s Department denied a request for copies of all gun permit applications submitted under Villanueva, claiming that producing them would be unduly burdensome. The Times made subsequent requests this year for permit applications submitted by campaign contributors, others with known ties to the sheriff and people with the same last names as donors. The department provided more than half of those requested records. In a letter sent this week, sheriff’s officials declined to release copies of the remaining applications, saying they are now part of the ongoing criminal investigation.
Even if Villanueva is guilty of pay-for-play (which is wrong), releasing private gun owners’ information without consent is abhorrent. It’s no one’s business what a person t puts on their application for a CCW permit. Private data like this should remain private. We don’t need the media creating a defacto registry based on who applies for concealed carry permits. It’s none of their business who applies for a permit or who doesn’t.
The Times had the names and contact information for some of the donors they suspected of being part of this alleged pay-for-play scheme. Reporters reached out to the applicants for comment and the donors didn’t want to talk. End of discussion.
The Real Takeaway
The big takeaway from this situation: the Bruen decision shot down “may issue” statutes in states like California – and for good reason. The Second Amendment is the only reason we need for obtaining a concealed carry permit. As long as we’re not a criminal, the application should be approved. period.
It’s even more offensive that the Times sees Villanueva as reckless for approving CCW permits for law-abiding citizens.
When I lived in California, I started to go through the permitting process so I could carry concealed, but I ultimately stopped. I knew it was a waste of time and money because my county sheriff very rarely approved applications, even for sexual assault survivors like myself.
Sheriff Villanueva should be applauded for empowering law-abiding Los Angeles County citizens for taking their safety into their own hands. At a time when crime is on the rise and law enforcement officers are leaving en masse, it’s now more important than ever to be your own first responder.