State law lays out the criteria sheriffs must follow when issuing concealed weapons permits. A person has to pass a criminal background check, and have no history of mental illness. They must also show “good cause” – that is, show that they face a special threat that makes packing a gun necessary – a shop owner who regularly makes large cash deposits, for example.
Critics think the good cause criterion is an infringement on their rights, and they’ve made it an issue in the El Dorado County sheriff’s race. They want the new sheriff to issue concealed weapon permits to any law-abiding citizen who wants one. With budget cuts forcing reductions to sheriff patrols, they say residents in remote areas need the means to protect themselves.
But that argument ignores the fact that people can have a gun in their home or business now. Waiving good cause would allow them to carry a gun into the local shopping center or… almost anywhere. The state’s sheriffs have long opposed such a change for fear it would create a greater potential for deadly violence.
Whether or not El Dorado voters agree, concealed gun permits ought not to be the issue that determines who becomes sheriff there. Most of all, a new sheriff needs to stand tall against powerful political forces when they pose a threat to public safety.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.