Forum on concealed-weapon licenses draws big crowd |

Forum on concealed-weapon licenses draws big crowd

PLACERVILLE — There’s one issue you won’t get the seven candidates for El Dorado County Sheriff to disagree on — Carry Concealed Weapons licenses.

The candidates articulated mostly the same message, with some subtle differences, to a crowd of more than 600 people on Aug. 27 at a CCW forum put on by the El Dorado County Republican Central Committee.

The issue has been a hot button lately as numerous residents have said they had difficulty renewing CCW licenses.

But one candidate at the forum – Larry Hennick – seemed to beat the drum a little louder. With several one-liners, Hennick received energetic rounds of applause from a crowd that very obviously responded well to a pro-CCW message.

For example, the moderator, Assemblyman Ted Gaines, asked the candidates to outline their criteria for receiving a CCW license. Hennick, who stood up in his seat and placed a hand on one hip, said demonstratively, “Two words: Apply and receive.” He received a roar of applause from the audience. Hennick is a 30-plus year veteran of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

Candidate Craig Therkildsen answered the question by saying, “Our policy can be streamlined, and made more user friendly … It will be very simple. … There’s really simple ways to deal with it.” Therkildsen is a captain with the Sheriff’s Department.

Candidate Ernie Hillman said, “As your sheriff, we will have a policy to address people’s needs to have CCWs in this county. … I want to make it as streamlined and user friendly as possible.” Hillman is a 29-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department.

All of the candidates Thursday night expressed a desire to make CCWs more easily obtainable.

Gaines also asked the candidates to define “good cause” in obtaining a CCW.

Hennick, again standing up and engaging the crowd, said, “It’s very simple: U.S. citizen. … If you’re a U.S. citizen, it’s your right, you meet (the criteria).” Hennick again received an enthusiastic round of applause.

To the same question, candidate George Nielsen said, “Good cause is personal protection and self-defense, period. … I would insist that staff members assigned to process licenses assist applicants in articulating good cause. The vast majority of applicants could, with some help, articulate good cause: living in a rural area, (or) past and present experience with personal danger.” Nielsen is the Placerville police chief.

Candidate John D’Agostini said, “It’s personal protection, simple as that. As sheriff … I will have the ability to say what personal protection is. On the application, if you’re willing to go through the background, pay the fees, take mandated training and are legally eligible … then personal protection is good cause and the sheriff will issue the license.” D’Agostini is an investigator in Amador County, with family roots in El Dorado County.

Candidate Stan Perez said, “You will not have to define good cause under my leadership because I will have done that for you.” Perez recently retired as chief of the California Highway Patrol Valley Division.

During another question, Hennick stood up and said, “I want every man, woman and child to be in possession of a firearm.” The crowd was equally enthusiastic.

If one other candidate made waves Thursday night it was Bob Luca on the question of how the state should treat CCWs.

Hennick answered the question, “Shall issue is what we have a given right to.”

Luca, on his turn to speak, said, “We are not a ‘shall issue,’ and those at the table who say we can be a ‘shall issue’ county are ignoring state law. If a candidate is willing to break the law they shouldn’t be sheriff. Good cause can be interpreted in many ways, but we still have to follow the law.” Luca is a retired Bureau of Investigations chief.

California is a “may issue” state, which means that applicants must not only meet legal requirements, but also show “good cause” for needing a CCW. In “shall issue” states, like Texas and Florida, applicants can receive a license just by meeting the legal requirements.

The crowd was mostly silent after Luca’s answer, and he received at least one boo.

Hennick later responded, “As to whether I’d violate state law: Absolutely not.”

Current Sheriff Jeff Neves, in an interview earlier this month, explained that renewal applicants must show continuing good cause in order to renew CCW permits. He gave the example of a former business owner who obtained a CCW because he or she made large cash deposits. “That person may have since retired and no longer has a rational reason,” he said.

Neves said that a federal civil rights lawsuit two years ago prompted a slight change in his policy, making it necessary for renewal applicants to show a continuing need for the license.

Neves will not seek a third term in office. The primary election for El Dorado County sheriff will be held in June 2010, with the General Election in November.

Thursday’s forum can be watched at

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