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Yuba County is one of the less liberal counties in CA.

Yuba-Sutter gun ownership, concealed weapon permits exploding
February 10, 2013 11:09:00 AM
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By Rob Parsons/ADcrimebeat

John Lahr is just one of a growing number of local residents looking to legally carry a concealed firearm.

"The whole process is a little tedious," the 32-year-old Marysville man explained. "I have my paperwork submitted, I'm going to take the class and then the background check."

Applications to carry concealed weapons have spiked just about everywhere in Northern California in recent months, including in Yuba-Sutter.

"There's been a dramatic increase in applications in the last few years," Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor said. "I think it's reflective of uncertainty in the world and more people feeling vulnerable with increased talk of gun control restrictions."

Sutter County Sheriff J. Paul Parker has seen the same trend.

"Five years ago, we had 650 permits. Now we're at 1,174," Parker noted.

Business is booming for private firearms instructors like Tom Oakes in Yuba City and Randy Riney in Plumas Lake.

"It's been a tremendous spike," said Oakes, who operates Feather River Firearms Training. "A lot of it does come down to people believing (firearms) could be banned, but also there's a lot of people who just want to protect themselves."

Riney, who operates NorCal Guns and Ammo Instruction, doesn't teach the concealed weapons course, but offers other classes for beginners. Riney said many people are learning to use guns for the first time.

"I've been pretty surprised at the numbers of new customers with no experience or background," Riney said. "A lot of people that have never considered owning a gun before are now getting started."

Frequently, applicant approval largely depends on where you live, as each county sheriff has latitude in determining who gets approved or denied.

"In more metropolitan areas, they require a larger or more specific reason for having a (concealed weapon)," Parker said. "In rural areas, we have more general, less restrictive need."

Parker and Durfor said, assuming the applicant meets basic requirements, they accept applications simply for "self-protection."

Parker said while he supports responsible permit holders, he does not believe California should adopt "shall-issue" requirements.

"Some states are now 'shall-issue,' but in California we still have the option to issue or not," Parker explained.

Parker said allowing local law enforcement discretion is a more efficient system because there can be personal issues that don't necessarily show up during a standard background check.

"If a person's known to get in a lot of bar fights, but hasn't necessarily been convicted of anything, that matters," Parker said.

Parker also said a person's known drug use is a factor in determining whether to approve an application. For example, a medical marijuana user would likely be denied a concealed weapons permit in Sutter County.

"The federal government lists marijuana as a narcotic and, if you're a narcotics user, you can't have a concealed firearm," Parker said. "If the federal government didn't list marijuana as a narcotic, then it would be a different story."

In Yuba County, medical marijuana use alone wouldn't automatically disqualify a concealed-carry application, the Yuba County sheriff said.

"It would be something we would consider and weigh," Durfor said. "But, by itself, it wouldn't be a reason to not issue the permit."

Obama’s re-election a boon for gun stores

By Rob Parsons


Many gun owners are calling it "Firearm-ageddon."

Gun purchases have exploded since early November and local merchants are struggling to keep merchandise on their shelves.

Sales of firearms and ammunition have been so brisk recently that gun shop owners like Roy Whiteaker say the trend is actually starting to harm business.

"It's hurting sales now because there's just nothing left to sell," said Whiteaker, owner of Guns and Ammo Outlet in Yuba City. "I can't get my hands on anything."

Lee Smith, managing partner at Shooters Paradise in Yuba City, said sales have been "through the roof."

"I've seen so many new faces and our range membership has quadrupled," Smith said. "The largest increase we've seen is in women using the range."

Gun enthusiasts like Yuba City's Jason Matsui said buying ammunition is just about as difficult.

"You can't even get ammunition anymore," he said. "People are starting to stockpile it in their homes."

Every Yuba-Sutter gun shop is seeing the same trend, authorities said.

"People are buying whatever they can get their hands on and even the manufacturers are out of everything," said Becky King, co-owner of TJ Norths in Marysville. "Some suppliers are saying things may loosen up in June; others are saying they are a year out with no relief in sight."

Gun owners cited the same reason for what could be the historic, sustained sales spike: The re-election of President Barack Obama.

Concern over potential Obama gun control policies erupted in a frenzied nationwide gun grab after the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 students under the age of 8.

Firearm supporters did not wait to hear what government representatives would actually propose before clearing out local gun stores.

"People are under the impression that a lot of regulations are coming that are going to affect their ability to own a gun and their ability to protect themselves and their families," said Jon Burton, a Yuba City gun owner.

While none of the federal or state gun control proposals put forth so far have included confiscation of handguns or rifles, many believe such a proposal could be on the horizon.

Smith said it's a matter of trust, and few gun owners have any confidence in the government.

"I think there's a general distrust of the current administration because it seems they say one thing and do another," Smith said.

For firearm enthusiasts, waiting for government officials to vote on a final plan seems foolish.

"Nobody knows what the plan will actually turn out to be, but people are really worried about it," said Greg Rudstrom Jr., co-owner of Sutter Orchard Supply in Yuba City. "There was a big push kind of like this when (Obama) was first elected, but it was never to this capacity. It was nothing like this has been."


Obtaining a concealed-carry permit takes time and money. In Yuba County, new permits cost $205 and renewals are $60. In Sutter County, a new permits runs $132 and renewals go for $60.50. Both applications are about 20 pages long.

Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor and Sutter County Sheriff J. Paul Parker said just looking at the numbers of permits issued might lead many to think that card-holders walk around armed all the time, but that's usually not the case.

"In my experience, it's less than 10 percent that carry all the time," Parker said. "Most people just keep one in their vehicle because they tend to live or work in rural areas and want the protection. In remote areas, it can take law enforcement some time to get to their location and they want to be able to defend themselves."

— Rob Parsons

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