Gun and weapon laws vary by state and the laws regarding the licensing and the carrying of firearms are constantly changing. As of 2019, California gun laws are known to be some of the strictest in the country.

While it may be legal to purchase, own, and carry a gun in California, the state places many restrictions on the locations where a concealed weapon can be carried and the types of guns that are allowed to be carried. The state of California also limits firearm licensing and ownership to certain individuals.

Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm in California?

In general, concealed firearms are allowed to be carried in public in California, so long as you have a valid Carry Concealed Weapons license, also known as a CCW. There are limits to the public places and the situations where a concealed firearm can be carried. It is illegal to carry a concealed firearm into a school, college or university, governmental office, courthouse, voting location, rehabilitation center, or childcare facility.

The state also places restrictions on carrying a firearm while drinking alcohol, wearing a mask, or attending certain public events. In California, individual businesses and shop owners can notify customers of whether or not concealed firearms are permitted on their premises.

While some states have reciprocity when it comes to CCW license, California does not honor out of state concealed weapons permits from any state.

In addition to these restrictions, it is illegal in California to carry an unloaded firearm that is not properly concealed in any public setting. Violation of these state laws can result in criminal charges.

Can I Apply for a CCW License?

If you live in California and would like to obtain a CCW license, you should contact your local sheriff’s office or your city police department to begin the application process. The CCW application process requires the payment of an application fee, the completion of several application requirements including fingerprinting, and the successful passing of a background check.

According to California state law, a CCW license will only be issued to state residents of good moral character that state a valid explanation for the need to carry a concealed weapon. A valid explanation for the need to carry a weapon should be more specific than the general reason for wanting a gun for self-defense or protection purposes. This means that the individual applying for the CCW license must show that they face a risk of harm or injury and that carrying a concealed weapon would help to keep them safe.

In addition, applicants need to provide proof that they have successfully completed specific gun training and handling requirements. As of 2019, a CCW applicant in California must complete a minimum of eight hours of a state-approved firearm training course that includes instructions on safe gun handling, proper shooting techniques, and live-fire exercises at a shooting range.

If you fail to meet any of these requirements, your CCW license application will be denied. California sheriff and police departments also have a great amount of discretion in issuing and denying CCW applications. This means that an application may be denied even if an applicant completes all of the steps in the application process.

Who is Not Allowed to Carry a Concealed Weapon in California?

There are many situations where an individual is not allowed by state law to carry a concealed weapon in California. Carrying a concealed weapon in California is illegal by a person who:  

  • Is a California resident but does not have a valid CCW license;
  • Is not a California resident;
  • Has a CCW license issued by another state;
  • Is under the age of twenty-one;
  • Has been diagnosed with a mental health condition;
  • Is prohibited by state or federal law from owning a gun due to a past misdemeanor or felony conviction;
  • Is addicted to narcotics;
  • Is considered to be a danger to themselves or others; and
  • Is restricted from carrying a gun based on the terms of probation or parole.

What Types of Concealed Guns Can Be Carried in California?

California laws place restrictions on the types of guns that can be lawfully carried under the concealed carry laws. Assault weapons are illegal in California, as are semi-automatic weapons and certain types of shotguns, pistols, and rifles.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Concealed Firearm Legal Issue?

In California, gun laws are complicated, and the laws are constantly being updated and amended. If you’re facing charges for unlawfully carrying a concealed firearm, you may be able to successfully defend yourself, but these are serious criminal charges.

If you’re facing charges related to carrying a concealed weapon, it’s in your best interests to contact a California lawyer. An attorney will help you to understand your rights, defenses, and legal options for the best outcome in your case.