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An Overview of California's Gun Laws

Gun control is a hot-button issue in our country, and California is one of the strictest states in the U.S. regulating the sale, possession, and use of firearms. If you plan to carry a gun, it’s useful to know the state and federal laws. This is especially true in California, where the gun laws are packed with nuances and exceptions.

As an experienced defense lawyer, I have helped many individuals charged with firearms crimes, and I have the experience to protect your rights. Below, I provide an overview of some of the most important laws regulating firearms in California.

Who Can Own a Gun in California?

While the second amendment grants any U.S. citizen the right to possess and own firearms, certain individuals are barred from this privilege.

Those considered “prohibited persons” from firearm ownership include:

  • Individuals with prior felony convictions in any jurisdiction
  • Individuals with domestic violence convictions (a lifetime ban for DV offenders was imposed in November 2018)
  • Those addicted to narcotics
  • Anyone with two or more convictions of brandishing a weapon (PC 417)
  • Anyone diagnosed with mental illness
  • Persons under the age of 21 (the law was just changed from 18 to 21 in November 2018)

Additional federal laws prohibit gun ownership as well. Some of these include: anyone dishonorably discharged from the military, undocumented immigrants, anyone charged with stalking, and fugitives from justice.

California Gun Crimes

Some of the most common firearm-related crimes include:

  • Felon in possession: A convicted felon may not own, possess, purchase, or receive a firearm.
  • Concealed carry: California Penal Code 25400 PC is a statute making it a crime to carry a concealed firearm. However, a handgun may be legally transported if it is unloaded and carried in a locked container in a vehicle. Penalties for conviction of concealed carry include up to 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,000. This crime carries more severe penalties if you have a prior felony conviction, if you knew the firearm was stolen, if you are actively involved in a criminal street gang, and more.
  • Possession offenses: A gun owner may not carry or possess a firearm in specific places, which includes school grounds, government buildings, airports or passenger vessel terminals, and public transit facilities, among others.
  • Prohibited weapons or firearm accessories: Generally prohibited weapons include various firearms and accessories, including camouflaging firearm containers, large-capacity magazines, short-barreled rifles/shotguns, undetectable firearms, zip guns, wallet guns, and more.
  • Assault weapons: California was the first state to ban assault weapons after a 1989 school shooting left 5 students dead. It is illegal to manufacture, sell, and/or possess an assault weapon or .50 BMG rifle without a permit. Some examples include: all AK series rifles, Uzis, and Colt AR-15 series semiautomatic rifles.

Defense Strategies for Gun Crime Charges

If you’ve been convicted of a gun crime, I can help. As a trial-tested defense lawyer, I have the legal know-how to help you strategize a solid defense against gun charges. The law is extremely complex in this area, which makes it crucial to seek out experienced legal representation.

Charged with a gun crime in California? Contact my law firm at (707) 418-5352 for skilled defense against gun crime charges