Residents of one Los Angeles County suburb will have to shell out big bucks to exercise their right to carry a firearm.
On Thursday, the La Verne Police Department announced it was opening an application process for city residents who wish to obtain a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) license. The department’s website spells out a lengthy application process, including a department-approved psychological screening and a series of fees totaling nearly $1,100 for all first-time applicants. Renewing applicants will also be forced to pay almost $650 every two years after that.
The unveiling of the application process and exorbitant fee structure arrives nearly nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to carry a firearm in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That ruling struck down subjective “may-issue” permitting standards, including California’s previous carry regime. It ensured that lawful adults must, at the very least, have an avenue to obtain a license to carry so long as they meet objective criteria.
At the time, some gun-rights advocates worried that some former may-issue jurisdictions would simply replace their old systems with an objective but onerous process meant to discourage new applicants. La Verne’s new application process and high costs schedule validate some of those fears and will likely thrust the city into a legal battle with those advocates.
La Verne’s high fees have already caught the attention of at least one gun-rights group in the state. The California Rifle & Pistol Association sent a letter to the city on Monday through its law firm, Michel & Associates, warning the city to reduce its fees or face the group in court.
“We were happy to hear that the La Verne Police Department has finally created a process for residents to apply to receive a concealed handgun license,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, our happiness quickly turned sour when we saw the outlandish fee schedule included with the permit application process. Further, we’ve heard from members that La Verne is requiring applicants to submit letters of recommendation alongside their applications. That is unconstitutional, illegal under California law, and violates the privacy of applicants who may not want to tell anyone they are exercising their right to carry.”
The letter noted that La Verne’s fees were roughly twice as expensive as neighboring jurisdictions, including Los Angeles, San Diego County, and Orange County, which it said averaged around $400-$500 in costs to obtain a license.
If the group does file a lawsuit, the city could have a tough time defending its permitting system in court. The Supreme Court has cast doubt on the legality of permitting processes that attempt to discourage applicants with delays and high costs. In the same majority opinion striking down may-issue laws, Justice Clarence Thomas warned against putting objective licensing regimes “toward abusive ends.”
“To be clear, nothing in our analysis should be interpreted to suggest the unconstitutionality of the 43 States’ ‘shall-issue’ licensing regimes, under which ‘a general desire for self-defense is sufficient to obtain a [permit],'” Justice Thomas wrote. “That said, because any permitting scheme can be put toward abusive ends, we do not rule out constitutional challenges to shall-issue regimes where, for example, lengthy wait times in processing license applications or exorbitant fees deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry.”
The breakdown of fees for first-time applicants is listed on the police department’s website as $398 for “processing,” a $150 administrative fee, a $93 licensing fee, $20 for fingerprint scanning, $150 for a department-approved psychological review, $250 for an approved safety and training course, and a $20 fee for the physical CCW card—$1,081 in total.
Renewals must occur every two years and are subject to slightly reduced processing, administrative, licensing, and training fees. Renewals would also be exempt from subsequent fingerprinting and psychological evaluation but would still be required to pay the same card fee for a total renewal cost of $647.
These fees are far above what most other jurisdictions charge for permitting. For instance, Pennsylvania caps its permitting fees at $20.
The La Verne Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.