Orange County has loosened requirements for carrying concealed weapons in public following a pro-gun ruling last week by a federal appeals court, officials said Thursday.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that California counties may no longer require residents who want to carry concealed firearms to demonstrate special, individualized needs for protection. The court majority said law-abiding residents have a 2nd Amendment right to bear a gun in public.
The ruling is not yet final, and if successfully appealed, may never take effect. But Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced on the department's website that the county has decided to comply anyway.
"Regardless of what her personal positions are, she feels she needs to abide by what the law is," Lt. Jeff Hallock, a sheriff spokesman, said Thursday.
He said the department has received "a huge influx" of requests for permits to carry concealed guns since the 9th Circuit ruling. He cautioned, though, that the new relaxed rules might be "revisited" if the court decision is appealed or overturned.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department, which handles gun carry permits for the county's cities, will now give residents permits if they simply cite a need for personal safety or self-defense, as long as other conditions are met, the department said. Those conditions include an interview, background check, completion of a firearms training course and a fee.