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Basic Carry Laws: California

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Carrying a firearm for self-defense comes with a lot of responsibility. Knowing the laws where you carry is just one important task you must undertake as an armed American. To help with that, we will be providing you with a summary of basic carry laws for several states. Learn about the most important things to know when carrying in the Golden State below.

Permitting in California

Openly carrying loaded or unloaded firearms in public is generally prohibited in California. Concealed carry is only legal with a California Concealed Carry Weapons License (CCWL). A CCWL may include any reasonable restrictions or conditions which the issuing authority deems warranted. These may include restrictions as to the time, place, manner and circumstances under which the person may carry a firearm. The minimum age is not set by statute, however, the minimum age to possess a handgun is 21 years old. Concealed carry permits require a minimum eight-hour firearms training course that teaches California firearms laws and gun safety. Training should include firing of a gun in a “live-fire” shooting exercise at a shooting range. California issues carry permits to residents, individuals who work in the state and active duty military members permanently stationed in California. California does not honor any other states’ concealed carry permits.

Stun guns and Tasers are legal to purchase and possess without a permit, although they are not permitted on the property of any state universities, upon the grounds of or within any K-12 public or private school, or within the sterile area of an airport. A CCWL is required for concealed carry within the state capitol, legislative office, any state or local public building, or at any meeting required to be open to the public. Possession and use of self-defense sprays that contain no more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray is legal provided the spray is used solely for self-defense purposes.

Handgun purchasers must either possess a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) plus successfully complete a safety demonstration with their recently purchased handgun or qualify for an FSC exemption. All sales are required to be completed through a dealer who must submit a background check. There is also a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of all guns. There is no firearms registration requirement in California except for assault weapon owners and personal handgun importers. California has a list of handguns that are certified for sale in the state.

Armor-piercing ammunition and the purchase of .50 Browning Machine Gun (BMG) ammunition is prohibited. You must be legally eligible to purchase and/or own a firearm and be at least 21 years old to purchase ammunition. Ammunition may not be purchased out of state and then brought into California. In addition, municipalities may also have restrictions. Large-capacity magazines — defined as those with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition — are banned.

Where Can One Carry in California?

Anyone with a California CCWL can carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in California.

Locations where a concealed handgun may be carried with a CCWL include:

  • State/national parks and state/national forests, provided the license is valid in the location of the park or forest based on any applicable license restrictions (e.g., city or county of residence)
  • Roadside rest areas
  • Places of worship, unless posted with signs prohibiting firearms

Locations where carry is prohibited, even for permit holders, include:

  • Grades K through 12 school grounds
  • Any courtroom if you are a party to an action pending before the court
  • Upon the grounds of the state capitol, unless permission has been granted
  • In or on the grounds of the governor’s mansion or any other residence of the governor, unless permission has been granted
  • Wildlife Management Areas & Refuges
  • Polling stations
  • On your person or in your vehicle while engaged in picketing or other informational activities in a public place relating to a concerted refusal to work
  • In a public place or on any public street if you are masked to conceal your identity
  • Any place with a primary purpose of dispensing alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption
  • Cal Expo center in Sacramento
  • On any county property in San Francisco county
  • Fresno City Hall
  • Any places restricted on an individual’s concealed carry license
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law or state law or regulation

Visit the USCCA California gun laws page now…

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