As recently held by the United States Supreme Court, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution preserves an individual's right to possess firearms: The actual language of the Second Amendment which was so interpreted by the United States Supreme Court reads:

"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The states, however, are given latitude to pass restrictions for the purpose of public safety within strict limits and the gamut of state laws runs between allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons to other states which firmly prohibit and criminalize any such acts.

California gun control laws are among the most restrictive in the country, with a ten-day waiting period before the gun may be sold and limits on who may own a firearm. Rifles may not be shorter than sixteen inches and prospective handgun buyers must have a valid Handgun Safety Certificate, obtained after taking a relatively easy written examination. Violation of the laws can result in felony charges. Further, civil liability can be relatively easily imposed if an illegal gun is utilized which harms a third party and most insurance companies decline coverage if the injury was caused by a violation of the law.


The Basic Law:


The basics of California gun control laws are listed in the table below.

California Code Section Penal Code §§12020, 12021, 12071, 12072

Illegal Arms       Cane gun; wallet gun; any firearm not immediately recognized as such; short-barreled shotgun or rifle, i.e., barrel of less than 18 inches for shotgun, less than 16 inches for rifle, or less than 26 inches designed to fire a fixed shotgun shell or cartridge; zip gun; any bullet with explosive agent; multi-burst trigger activator; any unconventional pistol; any undetectable firearm.

Waiting Period  10 days

Who May Not Own       

Lifetime Ban: Those with any felony conviction or conviction of other offenses listed by the California Dept. of Justice; any person adjudicated to be a mentally disordered sex offender; any person found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of insanity for any crime.

10-Year Ban: Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor violation of certain violent crimes, such as assault and battery or domestic violence.

5-Year Ban: Any person taken into custody as a danger to self or others, is assessed and admitted to a mental health facility (also subject to a lifetime ban).

Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds     Felony.

In addition, various violations of other criminal statutes are subject to harsher penalties if a gun was utilized or carried in the commission of a crime.

Note that various counties and cities have passed local regulations on gun control which cannot supersede state or federal law but may supplement them if reasonably related to public safety. Thus, the City and County of San Francisco or Los Angeles County have various laws as to concealed weapons that may be far more extreme than Shasta County or Tulare County. Be sure to check local regulations and to adjust your actions to conform to local law.



The State of California often punishes gun crimes rigorously. What may seem to be a common sense proactive step to protect oneself and which are usual in such locales as Arkansas or Idaho can easily become an act which results in criminal prosecution. Given the number of gun deaths each year, this is not surprising in the political climate of California. When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in California, do as the Californians or face fines or jail time.

Persons coming into California from more rural states are often confronted with a culture shock as they discover the typical negative and at times extreme reaction of persons when discovering that guns were carried by such persons. Use common sense:

·         Know the local law before coming into the jurisdiction.

·         Your weapons should never be loaded underway and ammunition should be kept separate from the weapon, ideally in a locked container.

·         Have a trigger lock on all weapons.

·         Do not keep a handgun on your person or in the glove compartment. Ever.

·         If stopped by an officer, immediately advise them as to all weapons carried, where they are located and where the ammunition is located.

·         If you have a permit, carry it with you always and show it to the officer.

·         No one cares what the law is or the common practice in your particular state. Statements that, “We do that all the time in ____” have no effect other than to annoy the officer. He or she is enforcing the law, nervous about any weapons you may have, and did not write the laws, merely enforces them. He or she may agree with you or not…but has a duty to perform.

·         And never…never… pull out a weapon when angry, vengeful, upset, or emotional.  You are simply arranging for a long stay in prison…