I can legally carry a concealed firearm in California, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
Based on our most recent research, the USCCA has identified just two states with statutes against carrying a concealed firearm while wearing a mask: California and Illinois (although sheriffs and county prosecutors in Illinois have made statements indicating that wearing a mask to protect others from COVID-19 while carrying a gun isn’t illegal as long as the wearer isn’t wearing the mask while committing a crime). Due to the large number of inquiries, some states have publicly addressed their laws regarding wearing masks, clarifying that they actually refer to individuals concealing their identity with the intention to commit illegal acts or to specifically hide their identity, and do not address wearing a mask while legally carrying a concealed firearm. The following statute was identified in California.
PEN § 25300. (a) A person commits criminal possession of a firearm when the person carries a firearm in a public place or on any public street while masked so as to hide the person’s identity.
If you have further questions, we recommend that you reach out to your local law enforcement office, or district attorney.
California is a may-issue state based on an applicant’s justified need and suitability. Permits are issued by the county sheriff’s office or local police station. The various local law enforcement agencies use their discretion for issuing to varying degrees ranging from virtually no issue to shall issue.
Although there is no comprehensive system of firearms registration in California, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) retains information about the purchaser and seller of all in-state firearms sales and transfers and requires that any firearms imported into the state be reported to the DOJ.
All firearms sales must be completed through a dealer. A permit to purchase, a background check and transaction report to the DOJ are required to buy a handgun. As of January 1, 2019, no person may sell, supply, deliver, or give possession or control of a handgun to any person under the age of 21 years. Beginning July 1, 2019, all ammunition purchases will require a DOJ “point of sale” eligibility check with $1 paid by the consumer.
The open carrying of firearms is governed in California by a set of laws that, at times, conflict with one another. Openly carrying loaded or unloaded firearms in public is generally prohibited in California. However, the sheriff of any county with a population under 200,000 people, or the chief of police of a city within that county, may issue licenses to carry a loaded, exposed handgun. Those licenses are only valid in the county where they are issued.
Concealed carry is only legal with a California Concealed Carry Weapons License (CCWL). The minimum age is not set by statute, however, the minimum age to possess a handgun is 21 years old. A CCWL may include any reasonable restrictions or conditions which the issuing authority deems warranted, including restrictions as to the time, place, manner and circumstances under which the person may carry a firearm. Many areas are off-limits, including schools, courthouses and businesses that sell alcohol for consumption. As of January 1, 2019, concealed carry permits require a minimum eight-hour firearms training course that teaches California firearms laws and gun safety, including 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. In terms of reciprocity, California does not honor any other states’ concealed carry permits.
A U.S. citizen or legal resident at least 18 years old may carry a handgun anywhere within his or her place of residence, place of business or on private property owned or lawfully possessed by the citizen or legal resident. A permit or license is not required for a person to carry within these locations.
On August 14, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California’s ban on high-capacity magazines on the basis that its restrictions violate the Second Amendment — noting that it would criminalize half the magazines in the U.S. The case has been ongoing for some time and the state will likely appeal the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court and may seek a delay on implementation of the decision to prevent a surge in LCM purchases.
California is a Castle Doctrine state. The person using the force must have reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred and has no duty to retreat. Although it has no stand your ground statute, California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) allow a jury to acquit someone based on a stand-your-ground defense. The instruction appears in CALCRIM #505 and #506, both of which deal with justifiable homicide.
Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.
Partial, with a California Concealed Weapons License (CCWL) and valid only in a county with a population of less than 200,000 persons. Otherwise California law prohibits any person from carrying an exposed and loaded or unloaded handgun upon his or her person outside of a vehicle in a public place.
Gun Permit Licensure?
If California requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?
Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in California?
Yes. Stun guns and Tasers are legal to purchase and possess without a permit. The minimum age to purchase is 19 years old with no felony convictions. Stun guns and Tasers 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.
Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in California?
Yes, pepper spray that contains no more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray is legal provided the spray is used solely for self-defense purposes. However, individuals convicted of a felony or any crime involving an assault, addicted to any narcotic drug and minors are banned from possession or use of chemical sprays. There are requirements for labeling, expiration dates and instructions for use.
Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in California?
Yes, with a California CCWL. Without a permit, the firearm must be locked in the vehicle's trunk or in a locked container in the vehicle other than the utility or glove compartment. In addition, ammunition must not be attached to the firearm.
Can you carry a concealed firearm at roadside rest areas in California?
Yes, with a California CCWL.
Carry in State/National Parks, State/National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)?
Can you carry a concealed firearm in state/national parks, state/national forests and Wildlife Management Areas in California?
Yes, with a California CCWL, for state parks and national parks/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). See theNational Parks webpage for links to each Park in California.
No for wildlife management areas, although unloaded weapons or devices may be possessed within temporary lodging or mechanical mode of conveyance when such implements are rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased, or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use. Not in State Game Management Units.
Can you carry a firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in California?
There is no statute making it illegal to concealed carry with a California CCWL in a bar/restaurant, unless posted and provided you are not consuming alcohol. However, the CA CCWL application (not in any statute) indicates that even with a permit, concealed carry in bars or any place having the primary purpose of dispensing alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption is not allowed.
Carry/Possess at a hotel?
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in California?
California statutes don't specifically address firearms at hotels. Please note that each hotel develops their own policies and the individual hotel should be contacted to inquire about it's concealed carry policy. See the Handguns at Hotels page for additional information.
Store in a Vehicle in an Employee Parking Lot?
Does California have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
Are you required to notify a police officer that you're carrying a concealed firearm in California?
No. There is no state law, but some counties are including a must-notify restriction on permits.
Magazine Limits for Handguns?
Does California have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?
Yes. No more than 10 rounds. However, per the August 14, 2020, opinion of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment that California Government Code § 32310, which bans possession of large capacity magazines (“LCMs”) that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition violated the Second Amendment. The state of California now has the option of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision and may seek a delay on implementation of the decision to prevent a surge in purchases.
On April 4, 2019, Judge Benitez issued a stay, and the law criminalizing the importation or sale of the high-capacity magazines was reinstated on April 5, 2019, pending the attorney general’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Those who have imported high-capacity gun magazines into California in the week since he declared the state’s ban on the weapons unconstitutional do not have to give up their weapons or be criminalized for owning them.
On March 29, 2019, a federal judge upheld his earlier decision blocking a California law barring gun owners from possessing high-capacity magazines. The judge struck down both the latest ban on possessing the magazines by those who are grandfathered in, but also indicated that everyone has a right to acquire one. Until legal challenges are exhausted, the following historical information regarding PC 32310 will be maintained on the site.
Prior to this ruling,>10 round magazines owned prior to January 1, 2000 are still allowed pending a decision by the district court on whether to grant a permanent injunction and the Ninth Circuit’s resolution of an appeal of that decision.
Any person who possesses any large-capacity magazine (defined as >10 rounds), regardless of the date the magazine was acquired, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 per large-capacity magazine, or is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 per large-capacity magazine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year or by both that fine and imprisonment.
The statute required that prior to July 1, 2017, any person who may not lawfully possess a large-capacity magazine do one of three things:
Remove the large-capacity magazine from the state;
Sell the large-capacity magazine to a licensed firearms dealer; or
Surrender the large-capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction.
On February 7, 2018 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled that PC 32310 is constitutional and does not violate gun owners' equal protection rights.
Yes. 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. Doing so would be a misdemeanor.
California also prohibits the possession, sale, offer for sale, or knowing transportation of a “destructive device,” The definition of “destructive device” includes:
Any projectile containing any explosive or incendiary material or any other chemical substance, including, but not limited to, tracer or incendiary ammunition, except tracer ammunition manufactured for use in shotguns; and
Any weapon of a caliber greater than 0.60 caliber which fires fixed ammunition, or any ammunition therefor, other than a shotgun.
Municipalities may also have restrictions. For instance, Winchester Black Talon, Federal Premium "Law Enforcement Ammunition Tactical" and Hornady "TAP (Tactical Application Police) Law Enforcement Ammunition" are prohibited in San Francisco county.
Background Check Update
On April 27, 2020, An appeals court has reinstated a California law requiring background checks for people buying ammunition, reversing the April 23, 2020, federal judge’s decision to stop the checks that he said violate the constitutional right to bear arms. *******************
Until this case is completely resolved this information will be maintained on this page. As of July 1, 2019, ammunition sellers are required to conduct point of sale background checks (which should take only 60-90 seconds) with $1 paid by the consumer. (Phase 2 of Prop 63). For those who don't currently have a gun registered, there is a one-time $19 "eligibility check" that may take up to 10 days. The law requires all ammunition sales, including mail order sales and sales between unlicensed parties, to be processed by a licensed ammunition vendor who will conduct the background check.
Only California residents can purchase ammunition. There is no restriction on the amount or type of ammunition that can be purchased, although there are restrictions on how much a person can sell in a 30-day period without being a licensed vendor. State law authorizes people to sell or share ammunition with their spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren without the participation of a licensed vendor.
Are "No Weapons Allowed" signs enforced in California? If yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.
Does California have preemption laws related to concealed carry (i.e. Does state law supersede local laws regarding the possession of handguns)?
Yes. Most, but not all local restrictions are preempted. Local municipalities may enact ordinances prohibiting the possession of firearms and ammunition on county-owned property, banning the discharge of firearms and zoning.
Yes. An immediate family member of a person, a law enforcement officer, and as of September 1, 2020, coworkers and school administrators may file a petition that includes the seizure of both firearms and ammunition. The subject of the petition are banned from having in their custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition for anywhere from one to five years. The subject is able to submit one written request per year for a hearing to terminate the restraining order.
No. However, other than in an act of self-defense, any person who draws or exhibits a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or unlawfully uses a firearm in any fight or quarrel is punishable by law.
Carry While Using Alcohol or Controlled substances?
Does California have laws regarding carrying a firearm while using alcohol or controlled substances?
No consumption of alcohol is allowed. Specific controlled substances or narcotics, except when administered by or under the direction of a person licensed by the state to dispense, prescribe, or administer controlled substances are not allowed. However CCW license conditions indicate you cannot, "Be under the influence of any medication or drug, whether prescribed or not".
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in California?
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 (valid hunting license, active law enforcement or active or honorably discharged military).
Background Checks for Private Gun Sales? Exceptions?
Are background checks required for private gun sales in California? Are there exceptions?
Yes. All sales are required to be completed through a dealer who must submit a background check. It does not apply to the transfer of a firearm by gift, bequest or interstate succession, if all of the following requirements are met:
The transfer is infrequent, as defined in Section 16730
The transfer is between members of the same immediate family
Does my current California concealed carry permit exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase a firearm?
Yes, for Entertainment Firearms Permits only.
Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in California?
Yes, there is a 10-day waiting period.
Do handguns need to be registered in California?
There is no firearms registration requirement in California except for assault weapon owners and personal handgun importers. Any firearm owner who moves into California is deemed a “personal firearm importer.” Within 60 days, the person must provide a report to DOJ regarding their firearm or sell or transfer the firearm through a licensed dealer or to a sheriff or police department. In addition, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) retains information about the purchaser and seller of all in-state firearms sales and transfers.
Does California have a roster of handguns certified for sale?
As of January 1, 2001, no handgun may be manufactured within California, imported into California for sale, lent, given, kept for sale or offered/exposed for sale unless that handgun model has passed firing, safety and drop tests and is certified for sale in California by the Department of Justice. Private party transfers, curio/relic handguns, certain single-action revolvers and pawn/consignment returns are exempt from this requirement.
Section 29610 shall not apply if one of the following circumstances exists:
(a) The minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and the minor is actively engaged in, or is in direct transit to or from, a lawful, recreational sport, including but not limited to competitive shooting, or agricultural, ranching or hunting activity, or a motion picture, television or video production, or entertainment or theatrical event, the nature of which involves this use of a firearm.
(b) The minor is accompanied by a responsible adult, the minor has the prior written consent of a parent or legal guardian and the minor is actively engaged in, or is in direct transit to or from, a lawful, recreational sport, including but not limited to competitive shooting, or agricultural, ranching, or hunting activity, or a motion picture, television, or video production, or entertainment or theatrical event, the nature of which involves the use of a firearm.
(c) The minor is at least 16 years of age, the minor has the prior written consent of a parent or legal guardian, and the minor is actively engaged in, or is in direct transit to or from, a lawful recreational sport, including, but not limited to, competitive shooting, or agricultural, ranching or hunting activity, or a motion picture, television or video production, or entertainment or theatrical event, the nature of which involves the use of a firearm.
(d) The minor has the prior written consent of a parent or legal guardian, the minor is on lands owned or lawfully possessed by the parent or legal guardian and the minor is actively engaged in, or is in direct transit to or from, a lawful, recreational sport, including but not limited to competitive shooting, or agricultural, ranching or hunting activity, or a motion picture, television or video production, or entertainment or theatrical event, the nature of which involves the use of a firearm.
Possess a handgun on my private property without a permit?
Can I possess/carry a handgun in my home without a permit?
Yes. A permit or license is not required for a legal resident over the age of 18 years who resides or is temporarily within this state, who is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm to purchase, own, possess, keep, or carry, either openly or concealed, a handgun within the individual’s residence, place of business, or lawfully possessed private property.
There is a limitation for purchasing no more than one handgun in any 30-day period, although there are exemptions, including one for private party transfers. Not every firearm available in the United States is legal to purchase in California. If you are buying a firearm directly from a gun shop, all firearms in the shop should be approved. To see a complete list of approved firearms in the state consult the Department of Justice’s approved firearms list.
All firearms purchases, including private transaction, must be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer. The following information is specific to handgun purchases. You will need to provide your California driver’s license, state-issued photo ID or a military identification accompanied by permanent duty station orders indicating a posting in California, to the FFL. Dealers must obtain the purchaser’s name, date of birth, and driver’s license or identification number electronically from the magnetic strip on the license or ID card. Handgun purchasers must also present documentation indicating California residency (a utility bill from within the last three months, a residential lease, etc.).
Prior to the submission of Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) information for a firearm, the purchaser must present a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) or provide the dealer with proof of exemption (Carry Concealed Weapon Permit, active duty or honorably retired military, law enforcement) pursuant to California Penal Code section 31700. The FSC is true/false and multiple choice test that is administered by instructors certified by the Department of Justice who are generally located at firearms dealerships. There is a $25.00 fee to take the test. You must score at least 75 percent to pass the 30 question test.
The California Department of Justice website offers both a study guide and a video to help you prepare for the FSC written test. After passing the test, you will be given a FSC that will be valid for five years.
Purchasers must complete both an ATF Form 4473 and a DROS Form. You will either be approved or if you are found to be prohibited from possessing firearms, the dealer must make available a DOJ Prohibited Notice and Transfer Form, stating that you are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm and the reason for the prohibition from the DOJ. The total state fee is $25, consisting of a DROS fee of $31.19 which covers the costs of the background checks and transfer registry, a $1.00 Firearms Safety Act Fee and a $5.00 Safety and Enforcement Fee. In the event of a private party transfer, the firearms dealer may charge an additional fee of up to $10 per firearm.
There is a mandatory ten-day waiting period after submitting your DROS Form before you are allowed to pick up your firearm. However, that may be extended up to 30-days if the DOJ is unable to determine whether you are a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. At the time the purchaser picks up their handgun, they must successfully complete a safety demonstration with it. Your firearm must also have a DOJ-approved firearms safety device, such as a trigger lock or safe, before you are able to pick it up. If you are purchasing a firearm from a dealer this will likely be included in the sale. But if you are purchasing through a private transaction you will need to supply your own. If you do not pick up your firearm within 30 days of submitting your DROS Form the sale will be canceled and you must restart the process.
You may also request a voluntary determination to find out if you are eligible to purchase a firearm in California. This requires you to complete the Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC) Form. This form must be filed with the California Department of Justice, accompanied by a copy of your California driver’s license or state-issued photo ID and a $20 fee payable by check or money order to the Department of Justice. This form must be signed and notarized by a notary public. Once you have filed your PFEC, you will be notified by mail within 60 days if you are eligible or ineligible to purchase a firearm in the state.
For additional questions on purchasing a firearm in California, please reach out to the State of California Office of the Attorney General - Bureau of Firearms directly, or consult the FAQ page available on the California DOJ website.
Can you concealed carry while shotgun/rifle hunting in California?
Yes. Section 25400 does not apply to, or affect, licensed hunters or fishermen carrying pistols, revolvers, or other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person while engaged in hunting or fishing. However, these individuals may not carry or transport loaded firearms when going to or from the expedition. The unloaded firearms should be transported in the trunk of the vehicle or in a locked container other than the utility or glove compartment.
Can you concealed carry while bowhunting in California?
No. The California Fish and Game Commission voted to approve a petition submitted by NRA and CRPA attorneys seeking to allow big game archery hunters to carry a firearm for the purposes of self-defense while in the field. However, the Commission’s decision does not change the restriction as applied to deer hunting. A state statute outside of the Commission’s control prohibits any person other than specified law enforcement from carrying a firearm of any kind while archery hunting for deer.
Hunter Harassment Law?
Is there a Hunter Harassment Law in California?
(a) A person shall not willfully interfere with the participation of any individual in the lawful activity of shooting, hunting, fishing, falconry, hunting dog field trials, hunting dog training, or trapping at the location where that activity is taking place. “Interfere with” is defined as any action which physically impedes, hinders, or obstructs the lawful pursuit of any of the above-mentioned activities, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Actions taken for the purpose of frightening away animals from the location where the lawful activity is taking place.
(2) Placing or maintaining signs, gates, locks, or barricades that prohibit or deny access to lands without authorization from the landowner or lessee or an authorized designee of the landowner or lessee.
(3) Placing food on lands not belonging to the person placing the food for purposes of eliminating the lawful ability to hunt due to the presence of bait, as defined in this code or regulations adopted pursuant to this code.
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State Constitutional Provision
All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursing and obtaining safety, happiness and privacy.-Article 1, Section 1"
CALIFORNIA HAS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
California issues carry permits to residents, individuals who work in the state and active duty military members permanently stationed in California.
CCWL licenses may be amended:
To add or delete a particular firearm (some counties limit how many firearms can be listed per CCWL);
For a change to any restrictions or conditions on the license, including restrictions as to the time, place, manner and circumstances under which the person may carry a firearm capable of being concealed upon the person;
For a change of address. License holders must notify the Sheriff's CCWL Unit in writing within 10 days of any change in the license holder's place of residence.
License holders must notify the Sheriff's CCWL Unit in writing within 10 days of any change in the license holder's place of residence. A license will expire 90 days after the license holder moves from the county where the license was originally issued if the license holder's place of residence was the basis for issuance of the license.
Contact your local county sheriff’s office or police station.
Moving to California and interested in applying for a resident license? How soon can you apply? California issues carry permits to residents, individuals who work in the state and active duty military members permanently stationed in California. You can apply for your license with your county sheriff or local police chief once you have established your residence, business or principal place of employment in that county or city.
Moving from California and have a California resident license? Does that license transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your California license remains valid? If a person with a California concealed carry weapon license establishes residency in another state, the license expires upon the establishment of the residence in the other state.
California Concealed Carry Permit Application Process
How to Apply for a California Concealed Carry Permit
Contact your county sheriff's or local police chief's office for approved training courses.
Complete an approved training course or provide proof of exemption (active duty or honorably retired military, law enforcement, etc.) pursuant to California Penal Code section 31700.
Some jurisdictions may require psychological testing.
Download the application. Sections 1 through 5 of the application may be completed prior to going to the county sheriff’s office. Sections 6, 7 and 8 must be completed in the presence of an official of the licensing agency. Review Section 7 and be prepared to answer these questions orally. Do not write anything in Section 7 unless specifically directed to do so by the licensing agency.
Take your application to your county sheriff’s office. You will be directed to bring in up to 3 firearms. You will also need the following:
Your training certificate;
Proof of residency; and
You will be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed.
You will be notified by mail within 90 days if your application has been approved or declined.
A California CCWL may include any reasonable restrictions or conditions which the issuing authority deems warranted, including restrictions as to the time, place, manner and circumstances under which the person may carry a firearm. Any such restrictions must be indicated on the license itself. The license includes the licensee’s name, occupation, residence and business addresses, the licensee’s age, height, weight, color of eyes and hair, and the reason for desiring a license to carry the weapon, as well as a description of the weapon or weapons authorized to be carried, giving the name of the manufacturer, the serial number and the caliber.
The training may consist of a minimum of 8 hours of training on firearm safety, handling and technique acceptable to the licensing authority. The course shall include live-fire shooting exercises on a firing range and shall include a demonstration by the applicant of safe handling of, and shooting proficiency with, each firearm that the applicant is applying to be licensed to carry. The licensing authority may require either a course not to exceed 16 hours or a community college course not to exceed 24 hours certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. If the licensing authority requires the community college course, it must be uniformly required for all CCWL applicants. The licensing authority may also require annual qualification on the weapon(s) during the term for which the CCWL is granted. For license renewal applicants, the course of training may be any course acceptable to the licensing authority, shall be no less than 4 hours and shall include live-fire shooting exercises.
Exemptions – Cal. Penal Code 31700 provides exemptions from the firearm safety certificate requirement for, to name a few; any active or honorably retired member of the United States Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Air National Guard, or the active reserve, any active or honorably retired peace officer, retired federal officer, law enforcement agent, or reserve peace officer.
Renewals require a 4-Hour CCWL Permit Renewal Class and must include instruction on firearm safety and the law regarding permissible use of a firearm. The course of training may be any course acceptable to the licensing authority.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details, check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
In California, there are no established state qualification standards for an active duty law enforcement officer. Instead, each department generally sets its own standards for both active and retired law enforcement officers. As a result, an individual who otherwise satisfies the requirements of LEOSA as a qualified retired LEO can obtain the necessary certification from any law enforcement agency in the state.
Unfortunately, the Cal-DOJ website contains outdated LEOSA information, thus providing no valuable guidance on how LEOSA is implemented in the state. Based on an article on the CRPOA website, “they remain concerned that a number of law enforcement agencies in California continue to maintain policies and practices that broadly prohibit the carrying of firearms off-duty by reserve officers, thereby infringing the exercise of LEOSA rights. Police and sheriffs’ departments typically do this by requiring reserve officers to obtain a separate concealed carry license from the department or another authority, even though reserve officers have the right to carry off-duty under LEOSA alone.”
Where Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm in California?
Carry in bars/restaurants that serve alcohol? There is no statute making it illegal to concealed carry with a California CCWL in a bar/restaurant, unless posted and provided you are not consuming alcohol. However, the CA CCWL application (not in any statute) indicates that even with a permit, concealed carry in bars or any place having the primary purpose of dispensing alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption is not allowed.
Carry in my vehicle without a permit/license? No.
Carry in roadside rest areas? Yes, with a CCWL.
Carry in state/national parks and state/national forests? Yes, with a CCWL.
Carry in places of worship? There is no state statute prohibiting concealed carry in places of worship. However, since places of worship are private property, they may post signs prohibiting firearms.
Where Can't I Carry a Concealed Firearm in California?
Places off-limits even with a permit/license
Grades K through 12 school grounds although unloaded handguns in locked containers or within the locked trunk of a motor vehicle are allowed [however California permitholders can carry off school property but within school zones (within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school)];
Colleges and universities, unless permission has been granted;
Upon the grounds of the State Capitol, any legislative offices, any office of the governor or other constitutional officer, any hearing rooms in which any committee of the senate or assembly is conducting a hearing, unless permission has been granted [Cal. Penal Code § 171c];
In or on the grounds of the governor’s mansion or any other residence of the governor, the residence of any other constitutional officer or the residence of any member of the legislature, unless permission has been granted [Cal. Penal Code § 171d];
All legal fixed-blade knives must be worn in plain view, except knives classified as dirks or daggers, which cannot be carried concealed and must be carried openly on a sheath around your waist. There is no open carry size limit for legal knives, although there may be local restrictions. Certain knives, including pocketknives with blades shorter than 2 inches, may be carried concealed as long as the blade is folded in the closed position. Switchblades with a blade longer than 2 inches are illegal to sell, carry and possess in any motor vehicle on public property. There are a number of types of knives that are illegal, including but not limited to ballistic knives, cane swords, billies, blackjacks, sandbags, sandclubs, saps, slungshots and nunchaku.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.
Should you have any questions regarding the legal process, membership or any of the great features and benefits a USCCA Membership provides, feel free to contact our award-winning Wisconsin-based Member Services team at any time.
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