In recent months, local police departments have noticed an increase in approved concealed carry permits.
Back in June of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law that aimed to limit who was allowed to carry concealed firearms. Their ruling stated that those applying for permits would no longer have to provide a "proper cause," nor a specific need for having a concealed firearm on their body as long as all other requirements were met.
In the months following, officials at the Santa Maria Police Department say the number of applications submitted for concealed carry permits rose significantly.
"Typically, in an entire year, we would maybe have 20 applications. To where, this year, we are four months in, and we have already seen 26 applications," said Sgt. Phil Dix, who oversees the department's Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Program.
A spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says that as of February, 55 applications for concealed carry permits had been approved. That's compared to just one approval the previous year.
"I am having larger classes than I used to, more classes than I did before along the coast, so it has definitely picked up," said Danny Wells, owner and instructor at The Gun School in Santa Maria.
As part of the application, people looking to carry concealed firearms must first complete a series of requirements including background checks, proof of purchase, and for those in Santa Barbara County, a 16-hour training course.
"What it amounts to is, we go into concealed weapon lifestyle, what it is like to be carrying a loaded gun on your person most of the time," Wells explained. "We talk about gun safety of course, in detail. We talk about the law pertaining to the permissible use of a firearm. We cover gunshot wound first aid."
Wells says many people who apply for concealed carry permits with both the sheriff's office and the Santa Maria Police Department complete their required training in his classes.
"We teach people how to draw from a holster, how to speed-reload, tactical-reload, how to shoot with one hand, how to shoot with the off-hand, shoot from the hip. So it is quite extensive how they have to learn how to handle that gun safely," Wells said.
Meanwhile, the increased interest in obtaining concealed carry permits has prompted the Santa Maria Police Department to find ways to make the application process more user-friendly.
"We have recently been approved for a new software program that will streamline the process. Users will be able to go to the city website, click on a link, and it allows them to access the application process much easier," Sgt. Dix added.
Applicants must be at least 18-years-old and despite having a permit, many areas like schools, courthouses and businesses that sell alcohol may be off-limits for carrying a concealed weapon.
In response to the Supreme Court's ruling and recent mass shootings, California Governor Gavin Newsom and other state leaders have announced legislation to strengthen statewide concealed carry laws by increasing the required age to 21 and limiting licensees to carrying no more than two firearms in public at any time.