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For the first time, Morgan Hill Police will begin offering Carry Concealed Weapons permits to local residents at the end of May, at a cost of $800 for a two-year license. 

The Morgan Hill City Council approved the new fee and licensing program at the April 5 meeting on a 4-1 vote. Council member Gino Borgioli dissented. 

Upon hearing concerns from the public about the $800 price tag—which is much more than the cost for CCW licenses in some nearby jurisdictions—council members urged city staff to look into ways to reduce the local fee amount. MHPD command staff, who developed and presented the program at the April 5 council meeting, agreed to return to the council later this year to present their findings of the actual staff costs and resources expended in processing CCW permit applications. 

Council members hoped that, if the city’s cost turns out to be less than $800, they could reduce the CCW application fee paid by citizens. City Manager Christina Turner said the council could also consider making a fee reduction retroactive, which would allow partial refunds for Morgan Hill CCW permit holders who pay the adopted $800 fee. 

Morgan Hill Police Chief Shane Palsgrove said the city could not lawfully increase the fee by more than the annual Consumer Price Index, even if they find the cost to the city is much greater than $800. 

Council member Marilyn Librers said at the April 5 meeting, “I was taken aback by the price but this is the police department’s job. I think we should approve this tonight… and in a very short time come back with what the actual cost is to the police department out of pocket. I am all for this, (and) I believe the citizens have a right to have a CCW.” 

MHPD Capt. Mario Ramirez told the council that officers have been researching the details of a local CCW program since last year, following a Supreme Court ruling that reduced the citizens’ burden in showing a need for a permit to carry a firearm. Ramirez said this research included consulting with other California law enforcement agencies to determine how much of their officers’ or staff’s time it takes to process a CCW application and verify an applicant’s information. 

The CCW permit cost of $800, according to MHPD, is based on an estimate of such staff time in Morgan Hill. That includes a list of tasks such as conducting a background check; interviewing the applicant; verification of firearm ownership and registration, as well as each applicant’s residence and other vital details; and review of required character letters, firearms training and psychological assessments. 

Specifically, MHPD estimates that, for each CCW application, it will take six hours of a community service officer’s time (at $419.51), one hour from a sergeant ($167.81) and one hour from a captain ($209.56). While that total comes out to about $807, MHPD recommended rounding the fee price down to $800 for applicants. 

CCW applicants are required to pay additional fees, which can take the total cost of a permit to more than $1,300 in Morgan Hill, city staff noted. 

Members of the public who spoke at the April 5 meeting noted their support for a local CCW program, but criticized the hefty price tag of $800. Some claimed that nearby agencies that have been offering CCW permits for several years charge less than $250 for a permit to carry a concealed firearm. 

Some argued that the permit cost of $800 may prohibit some citizens who need a CCW for protection—such as domestic violence victims or senior citizens—from seeking permission to legally carry a firearm. 

“I encourage you to seriously consider women, seniors and economically challenged Morgan Hill residents,” Morgan Hill resident Sally Casas told the council. “When prioritizing CCW permits, take note that women are least likely to commit violence (and) seniors are more vulnerable to attack. Ensure inclusion and equity when approving concealed carry weapon permits.”

Ramirez explained to the council that other agencies—such as the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and San Jose Police Department—that offer CCW permits at much lower rates than Morgan Hill are prohibited by earlier state laws from significantly increasing their fee prices. Morgan Hill’s CCW program is governed by a 2019 law that says cities and counties may adopt fees that fully recover their costs in processing applications. 

Before voting against the CCW permit program proposal, Borgioli said he supports the right for local residents to carry firearms. But he said “unanswered questions” remain about the estimated MHPD staff costs and suggested the city should “subsidize” more of its costs for processing CCW applications.  

Palsgrove added that Morgan Hill is one of the first cities to adopt its first CCW program in the region since the June 2022 New York vs. Bruen ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court found that CCW applicants no longer have to show “good cause” to exercise their right to carry a firearm. 

Since the Bruen ruling, MHPD has received “a significant number of inquiries from residents who are wishing to pursue a license to carry a concealed weapon,” says a city staff report. Before June 2022, MHPD had referred residents to the sheriff’s office for CCW permit applications. 

Palsgrove added that many other police departments in the Bay Area are working on establishing their first CCW programs as a result of the Bruen ruling, and he expects their licensing costs will exceed the $800 per applicant imposed in Morgan Hill. 

The city has not issued any CCW permits in Morgan Hill. Palsgrove said he expects MHPD will be able to start processing applications at the end of May. 

The council’s decision also includes a $25 CCW permit renewal fee every two years. With other outside fees, the cost to a permit holder for a CCW license renewal is $227, according to city staff. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

7 COMMENTS

  1. What the hell is wrong with the world. How can you allow citizens to carry guns when there’s crazy people in mass shootings. This is getting irritating they want to put laws in this and then they break it themselves. What a stupid thing this world revolves on. Makes no sense to me.

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  2. Just stop. Do your homework. Ignorance is the danger here. Mental illness, gang violence, guns sold underground are all problems that need to be addressed by our society. CCW members are vetted, well educated and an quiet extension of law enforcement. No “sane” human ever killed anyone out of spite. Gangs have initiation protocols and they quite frankly don’t care who’s in the way or a victim. So figure out a solution to THOSE problems and let’s all feel safer in the mean time knowing someone may help when the police can’t quite get there fast enough.

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  3. At that rate it’s cheaper to donate to certain officials’ election campaigns.

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  4. A more appropriate fee might be the actual incremental increase in cost incurred as a result of the permitting process. For instance, if any of this work is done as a regular part of the community service officers’, the sergeant’s, and the captain’s regular assignment then there is no extra cost for this service as our taxes already pay for their time. Redirecting work efforts does not increase overall Department cost. If the goal is to cover actual out of pocket increased costs then you need to use a more complex cost accounting approach that tracks the extra time paid to staff for this additional work that is above and beyond the workday. The cost you arrive at depends on the accounting method used and both are appropriate depending on whether you want to use the permit fee revenue to transfer existing costs or recover new costs incurred as a result of the permitting process.

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      • Do you happen to know how the process is at the Santa Clara Sheriff? I am also waiting to see if it’s worth the wait to apply at MHPD. I would prefer to do it locally but will entertain the idea of going to the sheriff if the local cost is too ridiculous.

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  5. I was at that council meeting till the break. I was under the impression the council did not approve the $800 fee, they flat out rejected it in fact. Told the captain to come back when the true cost had been found. As it takes approximately 90 days to approve a cow. At least half of the council spoke against the $800 fee. Conversation during the break seemed to approve a longer time period for the cnw and much lower fees.

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