San Diego County Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Information

This post contains background information on this rapidly developing issue, updates on current related events, and instructions for applying for your own permit. The SD Sheriff’s Department is changing their policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and AO Sword will do our best to maintain the current information on this page.



On February 13, 2014, Californians won a critical victory in defense of their Constitutional rights, as the Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court issued a ruling declaring that the San Diego County Sheriff’s policy of denying almost all concealed carry applications was an outright abolishment of San Diegans’ right to bear arms, as guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution. The ruling cited US Supreme Court case law in DC vs. Heller. which spelled out the specific definitions of “bearing arms,” and whose right it is to do so.

As a result of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore was effectively forced to issue CCW permits to San Diego residents for the purpose of self defense. In addition, the resultant case law would mean that all California jurisdictions will likewise have to drop their may-issue policies, which have just been declared unconstitutional.

In response, at the end of the business day on Friday, February 21st, Sheriff Gore issued a press release stating that he would not appeal the ruling, and, should it become final, he would accept “self defense” as meeting the requirement for “good cause” for being issued a CCW permit. He stated that his policy and procedures would not change until such time as the ruling was final (which occurs on February 27th, two weeks after being issued).

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Website Notice, Feb. 25th 2014:
The following Monday, San Diego residents overwhelmed the Sheriff’s phone lines as they began the application process for a CCW permit. The demonstrated demand was so great, that the Sheriff issued another statement the next day, Tuesday the 25th, that the application process was being revised as follows:

Members of the public wishing to obtain a CCW under the standards articulated by the Ninth Circuit should be aware that the decision has not yet become final.Federal court rules prescribe a period of time which must elapse before the case is remanded to the District Court for further proceedings.In order to accommodate, and expedite, the large numbers of anticipated applications, the Sheriff’s Department is revising the process for issuing CCW permits. Anyone wanting to apply for a CCW may submit an application either by mail at P.O. Box 939062, San Diego CA 92193-9062, or in person at 9621 Ridgehaven Court, San Diego, CA 92123.Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. All applications received that meet the current “good cause” standard will be contacted by a licensing staff member with instructions on how to complete the process.Applications that seek a CCW permit under the self-defense standard set forth in Peruta v. County of San Diego will be processed in the order they were received should the decision of the Ninth Circuit become final. Once the decision becomes final, applicants will be contacted by the Sheriff’s Licensing Division with instructions on how to complete the process. SD Sheriff's Department

Added to the above on Feb. 26th:

Please disregard the “Important Instructions” on page two of the State application and complete all sections of the application. Also, please do not submit fees at this time.  

Application Instructions

The current application procedure (as of 2/25) appears to be as follows (this is not legal advice – confirm for yourself):

  1. Download and complete the CCW Permit Application using this link
  2. Disregard the application instructions (they say to skip sections 6-8, but you need to fill them out). Fill out the entire form to the best of your ability including Good Cause. Do not sign those areas which state to sign in the presence of a Peace Officer.
  3. Whenever applicable, reference one of the four previously defined Good Causes listed below, for fast track processing.
  4. Mail via certified letter to P.O. Box 939062, San Diego CA 92193-9062, or drop off the completed application at the Sheriff’s HQ, 9621 Ridgehaven Court, San Diego, CA 92123
  5. Do not mail or prepare fees. No fees are due at the time of application.
  6. Do not include proof of residency or any other supporting documentation.
  7. Await a call for an interview appointment.

Note that the Sheriff has divided new applicants into two categories: those who are applying for self defense, and those who meet the former standard of Good Cause, to include:

  1. Protected law enforcement
  2. Personal protection (w/documented threats)
  3. Security
  4. Business

AO Sword has directly confirmed with Sheriff Department Permit & Licensing staff that those who are applying under the historical good causes listed above shall be processed first, and those applying solely under self defense shall be suspended. The latter applications shall be processed only after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling becomes final on the 27th, and then the lower court (9th Circuit) accepts the decision and acts upon it with their own ruling. That ruling will possibly be in the form of a summary judgement as directed by the Appeals Court. Once the ruling is final, those suspended applications will be processed in the order they were received.

We will keep you updated both here and on Facebook!

UPDATE: Tuesday 2/25 1540
We headed down to the Sheriff’s HQ in Tierra Santa this afternoon and interviewed the Licensing staff, which processes all CCW applications. It was great to get the latest directly from the staff processing the applications. We asked them what they would like the public to know, and they gave us guidance on the process, outlined above in the updated procedures. They also told us that, while submitting an application now for Self Defense only will not get you processed, it will save your place in line when they do eventually process them.
Further, an off the record comment was made by one of the senior staff indicating that the supervisory staff is hearing rumblings that San Diego may be transitioning to a permit model based upon Arizona’s CCW program.


UPDATE: Tuesday 2/25 1600
Several clarifications have been added regarding how to fill out the application, and what to include in the application packet. These instructions were based upon our interview with three staffers in the Licensing division.


UPDATE: Friday 2/28 0900
The two week filing deadline for parties to the case to appeal en banc has expired. Although State AG Kamala Harris filed a request for appeal, she is not party to the case and has no standing to file a motion in the case. The next deadline is in 7 days, March 7th, for the Ninth Circuit Court to ask for a vote on rehearing the case.
In other news, the SD County Sheriff’s CCW webpage has been updated, with a short paragraph added at the end. This language has been incorporated above, as shown.


UPDATE: Monday 3/3 1600
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it has issued a stay, or suspension, of its own ruling that declared the rules to apply for concealed weapons in urban parts of California, including Orange County, unconstitutional. This action was apparently taken in response to third parties announcing their intent to file petitions to intervene on behalf of Gore.


UPDATE: Saturday 3/29 0900
The March 7th deadline passed without incident, so the Ninth Circuit did not seek its own en banc hearing. Following filings by the State AG, Brady Campaign, and two California peace officer’s special interest groups petitioning the court for permission to intervene in the case, the Court allowed for a 21-day window for both parties to the case (Peruta and Gore) to respond to the various petitions.
Gore did not file a response, but Peruta’s legal team filed a comprehensive response (click here for text). Peruta’s response essentially points out that the Brady Campaign and the California peace officers have no standing in the case and no grounds for intervention under US and CA law. It also points out that, while AG Harris also has no standing, Peruta would not object to the Ninth Circuit Court using its own discretion in allowing the AG to intervene. This is most likely because Peruta’s team believes that they would prevail in such an event, further strengthening the precedent set for the defense of the 2nd Amendment in US case law. We are now awaiting the Court’s decision on the petitions to intervene. Such a decision might be published in 1-2 weeks.

In the meantime, all San Diego County resident CCW permit applications made under the Self Defense good cause are being held in suspension by the SD Sheriff’s Permit Office until such time as the decision becomes final.


UPDATE: Wednesday 4/16 1500
There has been no additional movement by the court since our last update. Gore’s team did file a courtesy letter (click here for text) essentially stating that they would not be filiing a response, nor any further responses in the case, in anticipation of a final ruling. 

In the meantime, several clients and readers of this page have written and called offering accounts of their own application process. Most who applied under Self Defense since the ruling have received letters stating that their application does not meet the current standard of Good Cause, and that their application has been suspended until the ruling becomes final. Some others who applied under other Good Cause have been invited into interviews, where the old standards have in fact been applied.

However, although the old standard of Good Cause is still being applied procedurally, it seems that the qualification threshold based upon those standards may have been revised since the ruling. There are specific instances reported to AO Sword where legitimate business owners with applications similar to those who have been denied in the past, have now been approved. It is, of course, impossible to truly compare one person’s background to another’s without some variation, but inasmuch as we can tell, two fairly unremarkable CA residents with no criminal history and legitimate business receipts in the tens of thousands per month, in a similar industry, received different decisions, with the only identifiable different being the timing of the application. The one who applied after the ruling was approved.

UPDATE: Wednesday 11/12 0700
Victory is near! Fantastic news this morning for supporters of the Constitution! The 9th Circuit Court has issued the following ruling, just released today:

– The State of California’s Motion to Intervene is DENIED.
– The Brady Campaign’s Motion for Leave to Intervene is DENIED.
– CPCA and CPOA’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc, construed as a motion to intervene, is DENIED.

This is a very significant ruling – in effect, the road has been cleared for the ruling against Gore to become final. Expect rapid developments in the next week – in seven days, the mandate of the court will be issued, compelling Gore to comply. AO Sword will keep you updated. Most importantly, friends: now is the time to apply in San Diego County!

Stay tuned for more details. We are also updating our facebook page at