COSTA MESA ( — The number of concealed weapons permits issued this year in Orange County could double after officials implemented a more relaxed standard earlier this year, according to a report.

A federal court ruling in February has prompted Sheriff Sandra Hutchens to ease documentation requirements when applying for a concealed carry (CCW) permit, the Los Angeles Times reported. Hutchens’ decision came after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed many urban counties in California too restrictive.

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Prior to February, applicants had to document why they needed a concealed weapon. Those previously granted approval typically would have been a reserve police officer or a business owner.

Now, the law finds an offer of self defense a sufficient excuse.

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“In this most recent court case decision has essentially taken a lot of, or most of, the discretion away from the Sheriff,” said Lt. Jeff Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “Rather than having the ability to evaluate somebody’s good-cause statement and make a determination, the most recent court case decision basically tells them if someone is requesting a CCW based on protection or self defense, they in fact meet that requirement. And denying it because of that would be a violation of their Second Amendment right.”

In a county with more than three million residents, 1,640 of them are licensed to carry a concealed weapon. More than 2,800 more have pending applications with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Felons are ineligible to apply for a CCW permit. Sheriff’s officials say applicants must exhibit good moral character and undergo a background check and training.

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If the permit is issued it is legal to carry a loaded gun in public areas.