Contra Costa County Sheriff Won’t Allow CCL Holders to Carry With Red Dots, Lasers, or Pistol Lights

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Months ago, the California Rifle & Pistol Association heard from a member that Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston has some rather unique restrictions on the guns that his office will qualify for carry by residents in the county.

If you’re unfamiliar with California’s byzantine carry laws, applicants for a license must qualify with each specific firearm they intend to carry. Each handgun’s serial number appears on your carry license. Most counties will allow up to three firearms, but some limit you to only one. Sheriffs have wide latitude in what they will and won’t qualify for carry.

We were told that Sheriff Livingston won’t qualify applicants if they attempt to qualify with a pistol that has a laser, red dot sight, or a pistol light attached (night sights are allowed), and found the page at the bottom of this post on the county’s web site. We wrote to ask the Sheriff for his rationale for these restrictions and this week we heard back from him.

Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston

Unfortunately, Sheriff Livingston won’t budge on this policy. He writes that he has a “Firearms Committee” he consults on these questions. He tells us the committee is made up of employees with a wide range of backgrounds, all of whom are firearms instructors. The committee recommended against changing the policy.

The reasons for excluding these accessories are (I summarize here, these aren’t quotes) . . .

1. Permittees could use inferior accessories that aren’t subject to vetting and could hinder the performance of the firearm.

2. Without proper training, the attachments can make a smooth weapon draw difficult, endangering the individual in a deadly force encounter.

3. The attachments make carried handguns harder to conceal.

Suffice it to say, this reasoning is meritless. These attachments aren’t an issue in the rest of California, or the rest of the country for that matter. If anyone has had a negative outcome in a defensive gun use situation due to an attachment, it certainly isn’t a common occurrence.

As to concealability, plenty of lights and lasers don’t even add to the length of the pistol and don’t affect the draw noticeably. There are scores of holsters available that are specifically made with lights, lasers, and red dots in mind to ensure solid retention and a good draw.

California concealed carry license

Plus, the banned attachments actually tend to enhance safety by helping to make sure the individual hits their attacker and only their attacker, particularly in dark environments.

The Contra Costa department also doesn’t allow single-action firearms to be carried, such as the very popular 1911 platform and its smaller variants.

This may be something we have to return to (legally speaking) in the future, after some other priorities are in the rearview mirror.

Here’s the page from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s web site . . .


Konstadinos Moros is an Associate Attorney with Michel & Associates, a law firm in Long Beach that regularly represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in its litigation efforts to restore the Second Amendment in California. You can find him on his Twitter handle @MorosKostas. To donate to CRPA or become a member, visit

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