Editorial: Why rush to issue concealed-weapons permits?

As the Huntington Beach Independent has reported, the Orange County Board of Supervisors agreed last week to hire 15 retired sheriff's deputies to process an increase in applications for concealed-weapons permits. The board did this in response to a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that will allow more people to carry guns under their clothing without strong justification.

It could be argued, quite accurately, that the board and the sheriff are merely following the law by trying to speed up the processing of some 1,000 pending concealed-weapons applications. But we think the county bosses should press pause before rolling out more permits.

Here's why. The gun ruling is all but certain to face an appeal from the state attorney general. This is why Los Angeles and other California counties haven't been quick to relax the restrictions. We see no justification for rushing out more permits, particularly if the ruling is going to be overturned.

Good sense, it appears, still has a chance of prevailing. In the meantime, the county should not furnish permits for concealed guns to folks who cannot demonstrate need or "good cause" to carry them — the standard in place before the court ruling. (Applicants will still need to submit to a background check and prove "good moral character.")

We are not opposed to the 2nd Amendment or people carrying concealed weapons when they have a compelling reason to do so. People who work in security, carry large amounts of cash, are hired to protect others, have been victims of domestic violence or are otherwise targets can and should be able to "conceal carry," if sheriff's deputies deem them fit. That is why we like the way things were before the court decision — gun owners had to prove to trained law enforcement officers that they needed to carry a weapon under their clothing.

The court decision somehow found a system that has worked for years "discriminatory" to ordinary gun owners. But allowing the average untrained person to carry weapons on, say, the Huntington Beach Pier without good reason sounds foolhardy. An overwhelming number of shootings are accidental, and of course too many people lose their cool from time to time and pull the trigger intentionally. Letting them carry guns, particularly in an urban, conflict-prone area like Orange County, puts everyone around them at risk.

It is our hope that the county — and the courts — return to the good-cause standard.

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