Obtaining a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) license in San Bernardino County (SBC)

This summary compiled by a resident of San Bernardino County.

Where do I go to obtain a CCW in SBC?

California Penal Code Section 12050 authorizes the Chief of Police (COP) of an incorporated city in California to issue a CCW only to residents of their city. It also authorizes the Sheriff of a California county to issue a CCW to all residents of their county. The Sheriff of SBC requires that residents of incorporated cities with a Police Department (PD) first apply to their PD.

If you are a resident of an incorporated city in SBC with a PD, contact them and ask for a copy of their CCW policy and an application. You can try to obtain information over the phone or your PD website, but it is best to appear in person. It is rare to find a Law Enforcement Agency that will answer CCW license questions over the phone or mail you an application. Obtain the name and title of the person who provides you the CCW policy and application. Once your PD furnishes you with their CCW license policy and an application, you have cleared a very significant hurdle. Contact us and we will assist you with your “Good Cause,” in accordance with The (1977) Attorney General’s Opinion on Good Causes and, in return, gain valuable information for our database that will help future applicants.

Going through the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office (SBCSO) CCW license application process.

Who may apply to SBCSO?

  • A SBC resident that lives in an unincorporated county community.
  • A SBC resident of an incorporated city that contracts with SBCSO for police services.
  • A SBC resident of an incorporated city whose PD has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SBCSO that designates SBCSO to issue and maintain CCWs to residents within the PD’s jurisdiction. It is not known at this time if any CCW MOUs exist in SBC.
  • A SBC resident of an incorporated city with a PD that issues CCWs who has applied and been formally denied by a denial letter or a “letter of declination.”

If you live in a city patrolled by a PD that issues CCWs, you will be required by SBCSO to first apply there for a CCW. Some cities may issue you a CCW based on their own “good cause” requirements. Some cities may accept your CCW application and issue you a letter of denial. Some cities may issue a “letter of declination” in lieu of accepting your CCW application advising you do not meet their criteria for issuing a CCW but they do not object to you applying to SBCSO.

A “letter of declination” can sometimes be obtained with a phone call and sometimes a personal visit is required. The best course would be to first call your PD and ask for information about applying for a permit. If they put you off or don’t appear to be cooperative it may be necessary to take a more formal approach by requesting information in writing by certified letter or to request the information in person. SBCSO will not allow you to apply with them without a denial letter or “letter of declination” from your city.

If your PD formally denies your application or will not permit you to apply, contact us immediately. They may routinely deny all applicants except for certain classes, such as their Reserve Officers, and send you to SBCSO “without prejudice.” They may also routinely deny all applicants, except for certain classes, “with prejudice.” In the former case, SBCSO will probably process your application as if your residence was in their primary jurisdiction. In the latter case, SBCSO might be reluctant to process your application. We can assist you if you seek our advice at the very beginning of your quest and keep us informed of every development.

Obtaining a SBCSO CCW application.

A SBC resident who meets the application criteria and wants a CCW license must apply in person to the SBCSO Employee Resources Division for an application. They must pass a background investigation. Before a CCW license is issued, the applicant must complete a Safe Weapons Handling course that is taught by SBCSO Range personnel. Every two years, those individuals who possess a CCW permit are required to complete a four-hour Weapons Safety Update class taught by SBCSO Employee Resources personnel.

655 East 3rd Street
San Bernardino, CA 92415
(909) 387-3750
Office Hours 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Filling out the application.

Electronic files are available that allow the applicant to use a word processor and a printer to complete an application.

A California Department of Justice (DOJ) digital application file is available through the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. It is a scan of the state application form. It allows you to word process in allowable areas. It is far from perfect, and the font size seems to vary considerably, but it makes for a much neater application than printing or having to use a conventional typewriter.

Unless you happen to have Adobe Acrobat, a fairly expensive piece of software, or foxitreader_setup, downloadable for free, you cannot fill in the form and then save the entered data. After you are satisfied with your entries on a page, you will need to print that page out to save the entered data.

A Word template, not offered by SBCSO, is available to fill out additional data required by SBCSO. The template is fully active and may be saved. Contact us if you wish to use this template.

Good Cause

Your Good Cause is the most important part of the application. SBCSO believes a qualified law-abiding citizen of SBC that has “good cause” for a CCW license should have one.

Do not indicate that you need a CCW license because SBCSO or any other Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) is unwilling or unable to protect you as you go about your daily business, and that you need to carry for your general “self defense.” That is patronizing and far too general. What SBCSO needs to hear is that you have “good cause” to be issued a CCW license in order that SBCSO may provide you additional protection based on a real, plausible need. Do not seek “good causes” from others. Determine if you have “good cause” in accordance with The (1977) Attorney General’s Opinion on Good Causes and be prepared to articulate and defend it. Here are some of many examples of potentially acceptable good causes:

Have you been threatened? If you answer “yes”, you will need to document names, dates, times and restraining orders. A “yes” on this question is sure to be challenged and is probably the most problematic “good cause” for all concerned.

Are you a Judge or Attorney? You fear death or great bodily injury from someone you helped punish and/or incarcerate that might seek revenge.

Are you a Medical, Dental or Veterinary professional? You fear death or great bodily injury from addicts that want the drugs in your bag and/or the prescription pad on your person.

Do you carry valuables and/or large sums of money? A valid cause, but don’t imply you want to carry for the express purpose of preventing theft. It is a bad idea, and illegal, to exert deadly force to protect property. You fear pre-emptive death or great bodily injury from an armed thief even though you would surrender all in exchange for escaping harm. Even if you are not a jeweler or other merchant, you could probably articulate a good cause based on transporting valuable hobby collections to and from shows.

Do you travel in “rough” neighborhoods? If so, why? You fear death or great bodily injury while in a really dangerous neighborhood to care for someone that cannot or will not leave said neighborhood.

Are you a Firearms Dealer? You fear death or great bodily injury by an armed thief that wants to obtain firearms for sale or criminal use. You might even be able to articulate good cause as a collector, with or without a Curio and Relic Federal Firearms License, (C&R FFL) who transports a firearms collection for firing, display, trade or sale.

Do you go camping or recreate in uninhabited areas? You, and your frail wife and small kids and/or grandkids, often travel through desolate areas to reach even more remote areas. You fear death or great bodily injury from those that might victimize you if you became stranded. Emphasize the dangers while traveling in remote areas, not your security while camping. California law already allows you to carry concealed at most campsites without a CCW.

Tell the truth!

Whatever you do, don’t lie! SBCSO will investigate your every statement thoroughly. What might seem like a simple omission to avoid gathering all of the details may become a reason for denial based on your character.

The interview.

You will submit your completed application the day of the scheduled CCW interview. Prior to being interviewed, you will be fingerprinted, photographed and fill out an interview form. The interview form is designed to give the Investigator a feel for your background and emotional stability. It will question you on past convictions, how you get along with neighbors, history of traffic violations, etc. If you have moving violations in your past, make a list of them as far back as possible. The Department of Motor Vehicles offers a printout of your record for a nominal fee. Do not omit information from the interview form. It will reflect poorly on your character if the Investigator discovers a past that you have not disclosed.

During the interview, here is what the Investigator needs to read on your application and hear from you at the interview:

Any consequence of your actions while carrying is your responsibility and yours alone. When SBCSO issues you a license to carry, it is only that. If you break any laws while carrying, SBCSO obligation is to pull your license, not take responsibility for your indiscretions. At the interview, you might be presented with a scenario that has a tragic outcome of your carrying, and asked who is responsible. Make sure you accept that all responsibility for your actions while carrying is yours and yours alone.

You consider being granted a CCW license a privilege. The application process is not an opportune time to demand your Second Amendment Rights. There are many people that enjoy getting in a face and shouting “what part of ‘shall not be infringed’ don’t you understand”? It is doubtful if many of them have been granted a CCW license after they did just that at a CCW interview.

During the interview, firearms to be listed on the license (up to three) will be recorded on the license. After the interview, the applicant will be scheduled for a Safe Firearms Handling Course taught by SBCSO Range personnel. Before a CCW license is issued, a thorough background investigation will be made and residency verified by a visit to your residence.

Firearms listed on your license.

You will be directed to bring in up to three firearms that you wish to have added to your license at the time of the interview. You may not carry any firearm under your license unless it is listed on the license.

You may not wave a handgun just because you feel someone across the parking lot might get aggressive. That is called Brandishment, and will get you charged and your license pulled every time. You may only draw your firearm to respond to an immediate threat that you and a jury would reasonably conclude would result in your death or great bodily harm.

When SBCSO grants you a CCW, they are authorizing you to carry a concealed weapon that might be used to stop someone that you fear will kill you or cause you great bodily harm, anywhere, any time, usually decided when your assailant is less than seven paces or two seconds from harming you. SBCSO expects that you will shoot to stop and continue to shoot until the threat is stopped or has retreated.

Under these guidelines, it is suggested that you list on your license only firearms that will stop. Not eventually kill after you are dead or seriously injured, but stop your assailant, and right now. Bring no firearm less powerful than .38 Special and 9MM Parabellum firearms capable of firing +P loads if you wish to be considered serious about defending yourself. .357 Magnum and .45 ACP level firearms will be more eagerly received.

Carry ammunition.

During the CCW Safe Firearms Handling class and subsequent CCW renewal classes, it will be stressed that you carry only hollow point personal defense ammunition loaded by recommended ammunition manufacturers while under the authority of your CCW license. Recommended hollow point expanding ammunition is best for stopping a threat and minimizing bystander injuries. Reloads are fine for practice, but carry only factory ammunition. The reason given for using factory ammunition, as opposed to hand-loads, is to preclude your being accused of maliciously loading up special rounds to inflict extra harm on the person you were forced to defend against in the almost certain civil suit that follows a justifiable defense.

SBCSO will not defend your ammunition choice if you did not follow their recommendations.

It has been suggested by lethal force experts that you always set aside 5 rounds in each box, and the box itself, of any ammunition you are carrying. That way, if you have to defend, you can present a box stamped with manufacturer’s lot numbers and some rounds to verify ballistics. As such, it would not be a good idea to mix manufacture lots and/or types and brands of ammunition when loading your carry firearms.

Carry firearms.

If you are forced to use a firearm to stop someone, you will be arrested, cuffed, booked and detained until bail can be arranged. If bail is not authorized or raised, you will stay in jail until everything is sorted out. It will not matter that you have untold numbers of witnesses attesting to how justified the defense was, the Law Enforcement Officer that has you in cuffs is not authorized to establish guilt or innocence. That will be determined by a District Attorney, or, if required, a Jury. You are going to take the ride, no ifs, ands or buts. While you are being separated from your family, your firearm will be taken from you and impounded for the duration of all criminal proceedings. If you are charged, it will be destroyed. During the course of the investigation, your firearm will be handled, rusted, dropped, disassembled, inspected, fired, deep markings identified and otherwise made not all that serviceable and/or attractive when, and if, you get it back. Do not carry any firearm you are not prepared to, or cannot, lose.

Modified firearms.

Even after you have been cleared of criminal intent after a justifiable defense, you may face a civil suit from the assailant or their family. Most modifications to your carry weapon, that were not factory options, that were made after removing it from the shipping box and before stopping the assailant, will be presented by their lawyer as having malicious intent. Lightened trigger pulls, whiz-bang night sights, laser sights and other tune-ups may be neat, but they may carry a price later on.

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