Straight Talk with San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon

I had the opportunity to meet with Sheriff McMahon and Undersheriff Dicus this week to discuss his local Second Amendment support.

I am glad to report that Sheriff McMahon’s long standing support of the Second Amendment has not changed. When I got my first CCW in San Bernardino County many years ago, I was impressed that Sheriff McMahon took the time to come in and talk to our class about our new CCW permits and to candidly answer questions. Sheriff McMahon believes that addressing new CCW holders is an important step in ensuring how supportive he is of the CCW program and restating the role CCW’s have in making our communities safer.

Sheriff McMahon related that currently there are approximately 10,500 CCWs in San Bernardino County. While that is one of the highest numbers in the State, he added that as a percentage of the 2.2 Million residents, it is a very low number. He wants to grow that number much higher, and has structured the Department to focus on the issuance of new permits. Previously, the 8 hour training was 4 hours of classroom in the morning followed by 4 hours on the range in the afternoon. Recently they doubled the size of Initial CCW classes at the Sheriff’s main training center by having range and classroom sessions all day long. Half the class does the range qualification in the morning, followed by the classroom in the afternoon, while the other half does classroom first and finishes on the range.

Because of limited meeting space to serve the more than 400 people that need to renew each month, the Department is now conducting renewal classes at 4 locations. The 4 hour renewal classes are located in San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Hesperia, and Yucca Valley. One of the unfortunate results of the focus of resources on getting new permits issued is that the Department is only allowing changes on firearms at the time of renewal. This is something he indicated he would consider adding back in the future if more resources were made available for range time.

I mentioned that Riverside County allowed the required 8 hour training to be done not only at the Ben Clark Training Center but also at 14 approved private training facilities. He affirmed that he wanted to retain control of the training with his own staff, he felt it was important that his deputies were actively engaged in the CCW issuance process.

We talked at great length about the 3 gun limit and the possibility of increasing that number. I related that Riverside allowed 6 guns and Orange County had an unlimited number. Both of those counties also allow an amendment at any time to change guns on the permit. Sheriff McMahon indicated that one of his biggest concerns with having more guns on the permit was that proficiency in the use of more weapons would diminish if they did not practice or train with them all regularly. One reason the Sheriff only used Glocks as duty weapons was that they all operated the same- sights, safety, and malfunction clearance were all the same. I mentioned that one of the benefits of having more guns on a permit was to allow married persons to be able to switch guns between each other. I believe he may be willing to reconsider this in the future.

Another subject discussed was the current policy of only allowing 10 round magazines to be carried. He said it was simply a matter of enforcement, that it was very difficult for his deputies to determine in the field if a magazine was legal under the current law or court rulings. I showed him the statement the San Diego Sheriff had put on their CCW FAQ’s about magazine capacity, and he asked for a copy of it and indicated he would talk to County Counsel about it.

I told Sheriff McMahon that San Bernardino County Gun Owners intended to ask the County Supervisors to pass a Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution and asked him what he would like to see in that resolution. He indicated he was not fully aware of the types of resolutions being adopted, but promised to review them after I sent him copies.

We also discussed his view on the action that some Sheriffs were taking to refuse to enforce State Laws or local Ordinances that they deemed unconstitutional infringements of the Second Amendment. He stated that was a difficult question for him because it depended on him to make a determination that a law was unconstitutional. He said it probably would depend on the individual situation though. For example, if a law required an extreme confiscation or seizure of firearms, he felt comfortable that would be upheld as unconstitutonal. By contrast, the issue of limited or standard capacity magazines was much less settled by the Courts, so he would find it far more difficult to  disregard that type of law.

At the end of the meeting, I asked for his input on the County Supervisor candidates. He indicated that it was his policy to not endorse Candidates in the Supervisor races unless they were an incumbent, for this reason he said he endorsed Dawn Rowe in District 3, but would not provide an endorsement for the other races because there was no incumbent.

In summary, we are lucky to have an very pro Second Amendment Sheriff that believes in the right to bear arms. He has been steadfast in his support and growth of CCW’s,and the importance of making our communities safer. He has sworn to uphold the laws that have been passed, but personally, he sees no difference in whether a magazine holds 10 rounds or more. He also does not see any real difference between an “Assault Weapon” or other sport rifle.

Sheriff McMahon speaks candidly and listens carefully. He has 3 years left in his term, and we should consider ourselves blessed if he decides to run for another term.

Loren Campbell, Executive Director
San Bernardino County Gun Owners PAC

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