A City, If You Can Keep It: Do you have your CCW?

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Richard Casavecchia
Special to the Express

Did you know you can apply for and receive a concealed carry permit (CCW) from Winters Police Department? You can.

Earlier this year, Sheriff Tom Lopez informed the cities of Yolo County that, starting July, he would no longer be processing concealed carry applications from residents of incorporated cities.

I had a chance to speak with Chief Miller on July 3 and he told me he expected the process to take 3–6 months for application because of the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) background check.

According to reports, permits are being issued in under a month. That includes application submission, completed background check, completed firearms verification, classroom training course completion, live fire qualification passed, Police Chief review, and permit disbursed.

If you read the Winters Police Department website, there are four authorized training courses you can take. Blue Ridge Consulting is one that operates in Vacaville and a “Resident of Winters” happens to be the range instructor there. There are other options, as well, if you want to drive a little farther or shoot at an indoor range.

Between the time the Sheriff declared he would stop issuing permits and Chief Miller took up that obligation, the Supreme Court ruled on New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen and struck down good cause requirements for CCW permit schemes. California previously had such a permit scheme.

Bruen affirmed that you do not need a reason under the Second Amendment to bear arms in public for the purpose of lawful self-defense. While California does still require permit holders to be of “Good Moral Character,” there is no definition of this and this will likely also be struck down. Case in point: Contra Costa County will apparently deny you if you have a speeding ticket, while Shasta County will not. A textbook subjective standard, exactly what the court forbade.

I have heard from a number of Winters residents that they have received a permit. For those of you reading this whose heart has palpitations, adrenaline dumping, fear welling inside you that hidden guns will be out and about in town and the slaughter of innocents will ensue, fear not. So far, there have been no duels on Main Street at high noon, nor deadly bar fights. You probably didn’t even notice a difference in the past five months.

Successful applicants have gone through at least two background checks to receive their permits, one for each pistol on their permit, and one for the permit itself. Additionally, Chief Miller has added the stipulation that all permits he issues are invalid if the bearer has consumed any alcohol.

CCW permit holders are statistically among the most law-abiding citizens. A recent study determined that the general population commits crimes at a rate 37 times higher than police officers, and police officers commit crimes at a rate seven times higher than CCW permit holders.

I believe concerns that shootings or other spikes in violence will occur due to the issuance of CCW permits are without merit.

However, if you do receive a permit, be sure to keep up your proficiency at arms. Practice and train, and do so with more than one box of ammo once a year. Make sure you know where you can and cannot carry. There are some prohibited places in town.

This summer in Bruen, the Supreme Court affirmed that “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense” exists. While carrying a firearm may be a right, you also have an implied duty to know what you are doing. In the unlikely case, you find the need to defend yourself or others with deadly force, you will fare much better being trained and confident than if your hands shake as you draw and your vision goes blurry with stress. Know the law and be responsible.

If you have been wanting a CCW permit but knew Yolo County would not issue them, go apply to Winters PD. The process in Winters seems to be a model for government efficiency. If you wish to exercise your right, the City of Winters has a process by which you can do so safely and responsibly.

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