The Ninth Circuit has a well-earned reputation as one of the most liberal courts in all the land, but in February, a three-judge panel struck down the part of California’s concealed-carry permitting law that requires applicants to submit a specific reason why they should be allowed to have a firearm upon their person in public. Most counties held back on loosening their permitting procedures while the decision goes through the appeals process, but a couple of counties dove right in with issuing permits to all law-abiding citizens. In Orange County, it took barely a month for more than 500 applications to roll in, and that evidently wasn’t just an initial rush but rather the beginning of a sustained pattern:
In the two months since the court sided with a group of gun owners and found California’s law on concealed-weapons permits unconstitutional, nearly 4,000 residents in this county of 3.1 million people have applied for one, eight times the number usually logged in a year. While no permit is required to own a gun, California residents must obtain one to carry a concealed weapon outside their home or business.
The surge in Orange County and, to a lesser extent, a handful of other counties stunned law enforcement officials and offered a striking demonstration of the frustration of California gun owners. …
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, one of the most liberal appeals courts in the nation, sets up a potential battle over gun control before the Supreme Court. If the full Ninth Circuit court upholds the panel’s decision — which is hardly a foregone conclusion — the Supreme Court is likely to take the case, to reconcile the conflicting decisions of different circuit courts. …
The Ninth Circuit panel’s ruling was appealed, and has been stayed. Nonetheless, Orange County has blazed ahead. It has spent $1.6 million to hire 14 additional part-time workers, many working through the weekend, in response to the crush of applications, which has overwhelmed county telephones and office workers. There is now a 30-month wait to schedule the required in-person hearing to obtain a permit.
And San Diego county had almost 1,200 applications in March alone, up from their typical 50 applications a month — and speaking of background-check backlog, the federal government has been overwhelmingly inundated lately, too, right along with the national trend of rising firearms production. Supply following demand, ya’ll:
In a notice earlier this month to the firearms industry, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was temporarily suspending parts of its computerized system to shore up capacity in part to process the required registration and transfer of National Firearms Act covered weapons, which also include silencers, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and some explosive devices.
Between 2005 and 2013, firearms act-related applications “skyrocketed by more than 380%” to nearly 200,000, according to the April 16 memo issued by ATF Deputy Assistant Director Marvin Richardson. The surge has contributed to a backlog of more than 70,000 applications.
Richardson’s memo states that the ATF is “immediately” hiring 15 people to assist with the application processing and deploying 15 current employees to the task.
The application deluge tracks a record annual increase in overall firearm production to more than 8.5 million guns in 2012, the most recent year for which the ATF collects such data. In 2011, there were 6.5 million firearms produced.