A few days ago we reported on the outrageous fees the city of LaVerne, California is charging residents who apply for a concealed carry license. All told it’ll take more than $1,000 to exercise your right to bear arms, with another $650 (or so) spent on renewing your CHL every two years.
The California Rifle & Pistol Association has already fired off a letter to city officials warning them of a potential lawsuit if they don’t change their fee schedule, and at this week’s city council meeting the high cost of exercising a fundamental right was on the minds of many attendees, even though it wasn’t on the council’s agenda.
“The fees are unconstitutional,” resident Keith Reeves said at the meeting. “They disenfranchise those who need it the most.”
Another resident, Agatha Juarez, said she was “absolutely floored by the fees.”
There is also the possibility of pending legal action from the California Rifle and Pistol Association due to the “exorbitant fees,” said attorney Konstadinos T. Moros, who sent the city a letter on Feb. 27 on behalf of the pro-gun group.
“It could be a single mom or someone who doesn’t have $1,000 to spend and feels endangered, they may just end up carrying illegally,” Moros said Monday. “They may try to apply and see the price and be dissuaded.”
The city has until March 13 to respond, before a lawsuit is initiated, according to Moros’ letter.
Council members apparently did talk about the potential litigation in executive session, but so far the city doesn’t seem inclined to reverse course.
In an emailed response Tuesday afternoon, City Manager Ken Domer said the criticism about La Verne’s fees, compared to concealed weapons permit fees charged in other cities, was the fallout of the city listing every fee associated with the complete application process, not just those collected by La Verne.
To process applications, the city is working with MyCCW.us, an independent vendor, that will run the background check, schedule psychological exams and refer the applicants to an approved vendor for firearms training. All of this accounts for the $398 processing fee, according to the city.
The La Verne Police Department, meanwhile, will be responsible for conducting a records check, obtaining fingerprints, interviewing applicants and issuing the CCW permit if all criteria are met.
“If the city were to conduct the background examination on its own, it would actually cost an applicant more than what they would pay the vendor Myccw.us due to our limited resources,” Domer wrote. “We would have to dedicate a staff person away from patrol or investigations and we are not in the position to do that.”
Domer also defended the fees, calling them “not out of line for a small city implementing the issuance of CCW permits and doing so in a reasonable and effective manner that does not overly subsidize the cost of a private party seeking a permit.”
Not out of line? I live in a county of about 18,000 people; half the size of the city of LaVerne. It cost me $50 in government fees to apply for a concealed carry license. Add in another $100 for my training, and I could still obtain my carry license for about 1/10th of what it will cost a resident in LaVerne.
Besides, the city’s argument doesn’t make much sense. If the local police department is already conducting a “records check”, then why is a third-party vendor conducting the “background check”? Seems to me that would be easy enough for the LaVerne PD to do. The city could also come up with a list of local firearms instructors offering the required training course instead of relying on an outside company to refer applicants to a particular instructor, and it could drop the psychological testing entirely.
As the Daily Breeze newspaper reports, while LaVerne isn’t alone among southern California cities charging ridiculous fees for concealed carry applicants, there are plenty of jurisdictions where the cost to carry isn’t nearly as high.
La Verne’s fees for first-time applicants include $398 for “processing,” a $150 administrative fee, a $93 licensing fee, $20 for fingerprint scanning, $150 for a department-approved psychological review, $250 for an approved safety and training course, and a $20 fee for the physical CCW card — $1,081 in total.
Other local municipalities that contract with MyCCW.us have similar costs: Irwindale, Manhattan Beach and West Covina all charge applicants a total of $916 for a concealed-carry permit, while South Gate charges $1,016.
Still, La Verne has the highest fees for CCW permits among those and other nearby cities. For example, the cost for a first-time CCW permit in Pomona totals $275 and $243 in Glendora.
In LA County, applicants are charged with a $30 application fee, a $120 licensing fee and the cost of training and Livescan, which the applicant does on their own.
Meanwhile, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department charges $397 for a permit and Riverside County charges $195, which doesn’t include training costs.
In the letter sent to La Verne, Moros included other jurisdictions’ permit fees and said the city “really takes the cake in terms of being over and above the rest.”
“In all, most applicants in California will spend around $400-$500 to get their permits. That amount is likely still much too high for a constitutional right, but it is a downright bargain compared to LVPD’s fees,” the letter reads.
So far we haven’t seen any lawsuits brought against these cities for pricing people out of their fundamental right to bear arms in self-defense, but that could be coming soon. March 13th is less than a week away, and if LaVerne council members don’t take steps to bring down those costs themselves it sounds like CRPA is ready to get the courts involved. The Supreme Court said in Bruen that even “shall issue” permitting regimes can be unconstitutional if they include long delays in processing applications or prohibitive costs, and LaVerne’s four-figure fees would be a great way to test the Court’s edict.