California Concealed Weapons Laws

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Overview of Concealed Weapons Laws

The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution protects the rights of the people to keep and bear arms. Many Americans believe this gives them the right to keep and carry firearms on their person in public places. The Supreme Court has mostly agreed with these individuals.

In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court weighed in for the first time as to what the 2nd Amendment protected. Ultimately, the Court held an individual has a right to own a firearm for lawful purposes, such as a self-defense.

Two years later, in McDonald V. Chicago, the Court tackled another 2nd Amendment challenge. Here, the Supreme Court held that the rights protected by the 2nd Amendment apply to the states.

What Are Concealed Carry Laws in California?

California has some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. State law allows the sheriff of a county or chief of police to issue a concealed weapons permit if:

Essentially, the law allows each county to set its own policies and procedures for issuing permits, which means that it can be tricky to avoid violating California's concealed weapon permit laws. 

It should also be noted that while some states accept other states’ concealed carry licenses, California currently does not. Additionally, California’s concealed carry license is only accepted by a limited number of other states. 

What Is “Good Cause”?

California’s law allows each issuing agency to accept or deny an application based on “good cause.” What good cause means is very subjective and varied from county to county in California. More populated counties with major cities would only permit conceal carry permits if there was a specific risk of great bodily harm. Other, more rural counties, were more relaxed with this standard.

In more populated and strict counties, “good cause” may usually only be demonstrated by documents supporting a specific threat, such as:

What Are the Potential Changes?

On February 13, 2014, the 9th Circuit declared the “good cause” provision unconstitutional. It is crucial to remember that this decision will not take effect until all pending appeals are resolved. However, if it is upheld, it will require local law enforcement to permit conceal carry weapons permits upon proof of residency and good moral character.

Who Does Not Have the Right to Carry a Concealed Weapon?

In California, there is a California felon with firearm law which prohibits three certain groups of people from owning, carrying, or possessing any type of concealed weapons:

  1. Convicted Felons
  2. Anyone convicted of a specific misdemeanor
  3. narcotic drug addicts

Under Federal laws, there are additional laws that prohibit certain groups of people from carrying, possessing, or owning a concealed weapon:

  1. Anyone that is under indictment in any court for a crime that is punishable in jail for a term of one year or more
  2. anyone who has been discharged from the military for a dishonorable reasons
  3. illegal aliens
  4. People that have renounced their U.S Citizenship
  5. Fugitives

If anyone in these group is caught possessing, owning, or carrying a concealed weapon, their gun rights can be revoked for a period of 10 years or sometimes their gun rights are revoked for life.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you have a question about obtaining a conceal carry permit, a criminal attorney may be able to help you understand your county’s requirements. You should also keep in mind that California’s conceal carry law may be seeing significant changes in the near future. As these changes occur, it may be easy to find yourself unknowingly in violation of the law. If you have a concern regarding the current conceal carry laws in California, you should contact an experienced attorney to help you make the right decision for your situation.

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Last Modified: 08-03-2016 03:00 PM PDT

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