Patricia Cantrall, the “Annie Oakley of Modoc County,” straps her .38 backward on her left hip. “I prefer the cross draw,” said the gregarious 65-year-old county supervisor and part-time cafe waitress. The Los Angeles Times says that Cantrall and about 270 fellow residents of this sparsely populated corner of northeastern California routinely carry concealed handguns. When it comes to packing heat – at least legally –no other county in the state surpasses Modoc.
State figures show that about one in 29 county residents has a concealed-weapons permit. That compares with one in 800 for the rest of the state. Modoc County issues almost as many permits as Los Angeles County – which has more than 50 times more people. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has approved only 377 permits, mostly for judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and retired federal agents. Modoc County Sheriff Bruce Mix says he feels comfortable with the high number of guns because he knows most of the county’s 9,400 residents. “I pretty much know who is reliable and who is not,” said Mix, 57, the head lawman and coroner here since 1988. Violent crimes occur in Modoc at less than one third the rate in Los Angeles County; there was only one homicide in Modoc County from 1993 through 2002. Mix says the county averages one “questionable death a year, including suicide.”