Morgan Hill City Council Chambers

For the first time, the Morgan Hill Police Department may soon have a program in place to process and issue permits for local residents to carry concealed firearms. 

MHPD officers and city staff have been working on the local CCW licensing program after a 2022 Supreme Court ruling reduced authorities’ discretion in deciding who can legally carry a concealed handgun. 

Morgan Hill Police Chief Shane Palsgrove said, specifically, the New York vs. Bruen ruling found that CCW applicants are no longer required to show “good cause” or demonstrate a “special need” to exercise their right to carry a firearm. 

Before the Supreme Court issued the Bruen ruling in June 2022, MHPD and other police departments in Santa Clara County had deferred to the sheriff’s office to process CCW applications and issue licenses—even though the individual cities had the authority to do the same. However, since the Bruen ruling, the sheriff’s office has been urging cities to handle CCW licenses within their own jurisdictions, Palsgrove explained. 

“Subsequent to this decision and along with the processing and administration of CCW license applications shifting from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office to local police municipalities, the Morgan Hill Police Department has received a significant number of inquiries from residents who are wishing to pursue a license to carry a concealed weapon,” Palsgrove said. 

Thus, last year Palsgrove assigned a MHPD community service officer to develop a local CCW licensing program, which will be the subject of an April 5 public hearing before the Morgan Hill City Council. 

The meeting starts at 7pm at council meeting chambers at 17555 Peak Ave., and remotely on Zoom. Two other unrelated proposed new fees are also on the April 5 agenda: a credit card processing fee for payment of development fees and transient occupancy tax to City Hall; and a business license renewal fee (see details below). 

MHPD and city staff have proposed a fee of $800 for a CCW license in Morgan Hill. The fee is designed to recover the city’s staff costs in the processing of handgun permits. These costs include a total of eight hours worth of MHPD officers’ staff time per CCW application, according to Palsgrove. 

Although the Bruen ruling made the police chief’s decision to issue a CCW permit less subjective, there are still stringent requirements in place for a resident to obtain such a permit. In Morgan Hill, these include: applicant must be a city resident; at least 21 years old; pass a background check; submit character letters; show proof of firearm registration; be in “good moral character”; pass a psychological assessment; and pass a firearms training course. 

There are currently no active CCW licenses issued by MHPD in Morgan Hill, Palsgrove said. 

A new CCW permit is good for two years. Palsgrove said a renewal fee will be determined later. 

State and federal laws allow the city to impose a fee to recover its costs related to processing a CCW permit. MHPD determined it would cost $806.89 in staff time to process a CCW application, but has proposed rounding that amount down to $800. 

Eager to carry

Cities and counties throughout California have been working on similar local CCW licensing programs since the Bruen ruling. Requests to local law enforcement agencies from citizens have been piling up. 

Between 2014 and June 22, 2022—the day before the Ruen opinion—the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office received a total of just 109 applications, according to reporting by Calmatters. In the two weeks that followed, it got 132 applications to add to the backlog.  

At least 450 more poured in through the end of mid-February, according to Calmatters. 

Morgan Hill resident John Lissandrello told Calmatters that he hadn’t considered carrying his 9mm handgun until the Ruen decision. Santa Clara County has long been a difficult place to obtain a CCW, and Lissandrello was aware of a scandal in which former Sheriff Laurie Smith was convicted of corruption for abusing her discretionary authority to issue permits to reward her political donors. 

Lissandrello assumed it would be a “waste of time” to apply for a CCW under the previous legal environment, he told Calmatters. However, the self-described political conservative has changed his mind. 

“We’re not a big gun family, but as an American patriot, I feel it’s my right to have that ability,” he said, according to Calmatters. “I don’t even know if I would carry it.” 

Lissandrello paid a fee and sent in his application to the sheriff’s office in January, but has not heard back to complete the next steps. 

Other new fees

Two other proposed new fees—unrelated to CCW permits—are also on the April 5 city council public hearing agenda. 

A proposed business license renewal fee of $14 paid directly to City Hall would be new, according to Morgan Hill Finance Director Dat Nguyen. Currently, business license renewals are handled by a private contractor, which charges the city $14 per renewal. 

Business licenses in Morgan Hill are good for one year, and must be renewed annually if the business wants to retain their license. 

The renewal fee is in addition to a tax that businesses pay for the license itself, Nguyen explained. 

Another proposed fee is an increase of an existing credit card processing fee for development fees and transient occupancy tax paid to City Hall. The proposed new fee is 2.71%—an increase from 2%, Nguyen said. 

The increase is due to credit card companies increasing their fees for processing, Nguyen said. 

City staff periodically review the city’s various fees paid by residents, developers and other customers. The goal is to ensure City Hall is recovering all of its costs for providing the services attached to the fees, Nguyen said. 

City staff will recommend that the council adopt all three new fees at the April 5 meeting, following the public hearing.  

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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.


  1. The City policy that the Community Service Officer came up, with its psychiatric evaluation requirement and exorbitant fee schedule, seems to be an attempt at prohibition rather than a prudent exercise of governmental authority; there are really too many hoops to jump through. It’s doubtful that the policy will withstand its first legal challenge. Chief Palsgrove should set aside a hefty amount in his budget for legal expenses.

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  2. This policy has clearly been designed so that MHPD can say there is a process in place while at the same time ensuring no one will actually use it.

    If MH is serious about issuing permits there is no need to to develop a unique process; simply look at the sheriff offices that issued permits without the need for “good cause” requirements prior to the Bruen decision. As an example, Butte county charges $18 for the initial fee, $131 for DOJ Livescan, and $62 as an issuance fee once the applicant has been approved. The only requirements are:

    -The applicant is of good moral character;
    -The applicant meets residence requirements; and
    -The course of training prescribed by the licensing authority has been completed.

    Please MHPD, do the right thing; either help people become licensed CCW holders instead of hindering them by placing bureaucratic hurdles and high fees in their way or don’t issue licenses at all.

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  3. Kudos to the MHPD for making it difficult to carry a concealed weapon.

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    • There is no requirement for MHPD to even become an issuing authority (AI). If they don’t want to issue permits, then they shouldn’t. If they do decide to become an AI, but make it ‘difficult’ to do so, applicants will simply go to the Santa Clara Sheriff Dept (SCSD) and apply through them (this is the current procedure).

      As someone potentially interested in getting a CCW, I would rather do it in my local community through MHPD, but if they decide to make it expensive an difficult, I will simply go to SCSD. At the end of the day it is the same license regardless of who issues it.

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