What are the California Concealed Weapons laws?

Handgun owners in California should be aware of laws concerning “Carrying a Concealed Weapon” so they can avoid unexpected criminal charges.

Anyone living in California is probably aware of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms. While any legal firearm legally purchased may be kept at the private residence of the person licensed to own it, the Second Amendment does not indicate the specific circumstances under which a firearm may be carried in a public place. Every state has its own laws and regulations regarding the lawful and unlawful possession of firearms in public places, and being found in violation of law can land someone a criminal charge. The laws in California are very specific and numerous. It behooves any gun owner to be aware of California gun laws to avoid criminal prosecution.

The law regarding Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Carrying a concealed firearm in public in California is illegal per California Penal Code 25400 but is allowed only if the gun owner has legally obtained a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit or is exempt by law. A concealed weapon is "a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person." Residents of California may apply for this license through their local sheriff's department or local police departments if authorized. In order to qualify, the applicant must complete a CCW class requirement and qualify per the additional application requirements, including showing "good cause" why they should have a CCW permit in most counties. (See California Penal Code 26150, 26155, 26170)

The law and exceptions regarding open carry of a handgun

California Penal Code 26350 prohibits the openly carrying an unloaded handgun on their person or in their vehicle in a public place. There are a number of specific exemptions to this in Penal Code 26361 et seq. No one is allowed to have a loaded or unloaded handgun that is publicly displayed or otherwise considered to be openly carried, including exposed in a vehicle unless properly licensed. See also California Penal Code 26400 prohibiting carrying an unloaded firearm, not a handgun, in a public place with exemptions in Penal Code 26405.

An unloaded firearm in a locked container or trunk of a vehicle is legal under most circumstances. California Penal Code 25850 authorizes peace officers to examine any firearm on a person or in a vehicle in a public place or prohibited area to see if it is loaded. Refusal to allow inspection is probable cause for arrest. It is important to keep updated on laws as gun and ammunition laws are continually changing as legislatures try to enhance community safety.

Anyone who has been charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss possible defenses and resolutions available. It may be possible to get the charge or charges dismissed, reduced or consequences minimized with the help of a criminal defense attorney.