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New Bill Would Ease Restrictions on Concealed Firearms

— A bill to make it easier to get concealed weapons permits in California is stirring up controversy at the state capitol. Some law enforcement groups are upset because they'd have no control over who can carry a hidden firearm. From Sacramento, Steve Shadley explains.

The measure raising eyebrows is known as AB 357. That's right…just like the name of the popular 357 magnum revolver cartridge…and supporters say it's no coincidence.

Republican Steven Knight of Palmdale is author of the bill. He's a former police officer and says members of the public should have a better chance of getting permission to carry concealed weapons than they do now under existing law. Knight's measure would strip the authority of county sheriffs and police chiefs to make the final decision on who could get a permit.

"In my opinion, it should be up to if you pass the class, if you pass the background check and you can pay the fees then you should be able to get the permit to carry a concealable weapon. I don't think it should be up to one guy to say I don't think this person is fit to have one," he says.

Knight's bill is meeting strong opposition from the California State Sheriff's Association. Jim Denney is the group's executive director.

"If it's a mandated situation where every person who applies and meets the minimum qualifications for the issuance of concealed weapons permits and the sheriff is required to issue them without any comment…then that could cause some problems," Denney says.

Denney says sheriffs are qualified to determine whether a person who applies for a concealed weapons permit may be a risk to public safety. The bill gets its first hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

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