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California law delegates to each city and county the power to issue a written
policy setting forth the procedures for obtaining a concealed-carry license. Id. §
26160. San Diego County has issued such a policy. At issue in this appeal is that
policy’s interpretation of the “good cause” requirement found in sections 26150
and 26155: “[A] set of circumstances that distinguish the applicant from the
mainstream and causes him or her to be placed in harm’s way.” Good cause is
“evaluated on an individual basis” and may arise in “situations related to personal
protection as well as those related to individual businesses or occupations.”
But—important here—concern for “one’s personal safety alone is not considered
good cause.”
The power to grant concealed-carry licenses in San Diego County is vested
in the county sheriff’s department. Since 1999, the sheriff’s department has
required all applicants to “provide supporting documentation” in order “to
demonstrate and elaborate good cause.” This “required documentation, such as
restraining orders, letters from law enforcement agencies or the [district attorney]
familiar with the case, is discussed with each applicant” to determine whether he or
she can show a sufficiently pressing need for self-protection. If the applicant
cannot demonstrate “circumstances that distinguish [him] from the mainstream,”
then he will not qualify for a concealed-carry permit.