Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is no friend to gun owners, but the embattled sheriff just made an announcement few gun rights proponents expected.
In a recent Instagram live video, Villanueva told viewers that his office has expanded its capacity to approve applications for a concealed carry licenses and plans to relax the “good cause” requirement to make it more “achievable.”
The announcement came on the heels of sobering violent crime statistics for America’s most populous county. According to Villanueva, the county has seen a 95% increase in homicides over the last 12 months, along with an 8% increase in rape, 13% increase in aggravated assault, 40% increase in grand theft auto, and a 22% increase in arson.
Between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020, the county experienced a 36% increase in all violent crime.
“All huge numbers, all very troublesome,” Villanueva said. “This is existential threat number one, particularly in communities where there are a large percentage of African-American and Latino residents.”
In response to the increase in crime and the county’s inability to address it, the sheriff said he would allow more people to carry concealed firearms.
“We have less cops on the streets, more crooks, less consequences. What could go wrong with that combination?” he asked. “We’ve increased our capacity to process CCW permits. We’ve made the good cause standard achievable. We’re recognizing that the threat to the residents is increasing, so we’re responding accordingly.”
Before LA County gun owners rush to apply for a license, however, Villanueva offered some perspective. The county has only issued 904 permits since Villanueva took the helm in 2018, and the sheriff seemed pleased that there are another 360 applications “in the hopper… so we’re well on our way to over 1,000.”
The county boasts over 10 million residents, meaning only about 0.01% of residents will be allowed to carry concealed firearms. By contrast, over 10% of residents of many states possess licenses to carry, including Utah (21.88%), Alabama (20.36%), Indiana (14.02%), South Dakota (12.16%), and Iowa (11.59%).
Villanueva also clarified that their process is a far cry from the shall-issue laws that govern other states.
“We’re not going to go to the shall-issue, where everyone who can fog a mirror can get a CCW permit,” he said. “That’s not responsible. But we do want to give people who are responsible, pass the training, don’t have any convictions or any legal limitations from being armed in public… and establish a good cause reason why we should trust them to be armed in public.”
Villanueva did not provide additional details. He mentioned that his office has increased staffing to approve applications, but he did not explain how they’ve made the good cause standard more “attainable.”
“Buying guns is a bad idea,” he said at the time. “You have a lot of people now who are at home, normally they’re not, cabin fever sets in, you got a crowded environment, weapons are not a good mix.”
In April, one of Villanueva’s chiefs announced his intention to run against the current sheriff in the 2022 election.