Orange County supervisors cleared the way Tuesday to hire 15 retired sheriff's deputies to speed up the processing of more than 1,000 concealed weapon applications that have poured in since a federal appellate court ruling relaxed gun restrictions.
Orange County has received so many applications since the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that sheriff's officials said it would take a full year to process all the paperwork unless additional employees were brought in.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who has pushed to expedite the processing of the applications, said he was pleased that Hutchens was bringing aboard temporary help to clear out the paper.
Spitzer, a former state assemblyman and deputy district attorney, said it "shouldn't take a year" for someone with a pressing need to get approval to carry a concealed weapon.
If the majority of the 1,000 application are approved, it would double the number of people in Orange County who can legally carry concealed weapons.
Though the court ruling cleared the way for counties to relax restrictions, Orange County is one of the few to do so. Other counties, including Los Angeles County, are waiting to see if the ruling is upheld or appealed.
State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris last week announced that her office planned to appeal if San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore does not. Gore was the named defendant in the original case.
Hutchens agreed Tuesday that the court ruling had stirred strong views on both sides.
"My position has always been that I will follow the law," she said. "That is what I did prior to the law change and that is what I'm doing today."
The pro-gun ruling would eliminate the requirement that residents who wanted to carry a concealed weapon must show a specific, individualized need to do so.