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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

Is Concealed Carry Without a Permit Legal in California? | Gun Laws

While there is still a legal battle going on in 2024 regarding carrying a concealed weapon in California, as of now (February 2, 2024), citizens can carry concealed firearms in the state if they have valid permits or licenses.

Due to the new gun law in California and the hold on the US District Judge's "dangerous" ruling, many people might find themselves confused over whether they can carry a concealed firearm, especially if they do not have a permit. It's crucial for citizens to know the law so that they can avoid legal and financial repercussions.

Goss Law and its experienced Sacramento gun charge lawyers have extensive know-how of the state and federal gun laws. They can help those accused of a crime in Sacramento, California, by assessing their case and building a strong defense to protect their rights. Criminal defendants should reach out to them for legal representation.

Is Concealed Carry with a Permit Legal in California?

Is Concealed Carry with a Permit Legal in California?

Under California Penal Code sections 25850 PC and 26350, it is illegal for citizens to walk around in public with a firearm. However, citizens can hold or possess concealed firearms under the law if they have a valid Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) license.

Following the Supreme Court's ruling in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen case, California has become a shall-issue state, meaning that the county sheriff's office or local police station has broad discretion in issuing gun licenses.

Is Concealed Carry Without a Permit Legal in California?

California law does not allow anyone in the state (with certain exemptions) to legally carry a hidden firearm without a valid concealed weapons permit. 

While the minimum age to apply for a CCW license is 18 years, the issuing agency has full discretion in determining the eligibility requirements, which may vary from one application to another.

What Are the Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm Without a Permit in California?

Under California gun laws, carrying a concealed firearm without a permit can lead to a misdemeanor conviction as long as there are no other aggravating circumstances.

In some cases, the defendant may qualify for probation. The consequences of carrying a concealed weapon in California without a permit may include the following:

  • A maximum jail sentence of one year;

  • Up to $1,000 in fines; or

  • A combination of fines and jail sentence.

When determining a punishment for illegally carrying a concealed weapon, a judge may look at the defendant's criminal history, evidence of intended use of the gun, and failure to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit can also lead to a felony conviction under the following circumstances:

  • Prior felony convictions;

  • Carrying a stolen firearm;

  • The defendant's association with a gang;

  • Violation of California gun laws; and

  • Prior drug and substance abuse.

A felony conviction for carrying a gun without a concealed carry permit can lead to a maximum fine of $10,000, up to three years of jail, or a combination of both.

Where Can Californians Not Carry Their Concealed Weapons?

In the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen case, the US Supreme Court and its verdict paved the way for Governor Gavin Newsom to introduce a new gun law that went into effect on January 1, 2024, before being placed on hold by the appeals court.

The new legislation that is still becoming a center of debate in the court labels 26 public places as highly sensitive, making it impossible for people to carry guns in the state without violating the law.

Currently, Californians with a valid concealed carry permit cannot carry weapons in certain places, including the following:

  • Grades K through 12 school grounds

  • Colleges and universities, unless the institution provides a special permission

  • Courtrooms

  • Gun shows and events (in certain circumstances, it may be possible)

  • Any local public building and transit systems

  • Public or private hospitals

  • Adult and juvenile detention centers

  • Any place where state and federal law prohibits carrying a concealed weapon

While the current law prevents carrying a loaded firearm at an educational institution, eligible people can carry an unloaded gun in a locked container or vehicle trunk.

When Can Californians Move Around with Open-carry Weapons?

Under California law, there are very few places where a person with a valid CCW permit can carry a weapon without properly concealing it. These include the following:

  • Section 25850 of the California Penal Code allows homeowners or business owners to carry a gun without concealing it on their private property.

  • Under section 25850, citizens can carry a weapon without concealing it as a form of self-defense if they believe that their life or property is in immediate and grave danger.

  • Section 25400 states that citizens can transport a firearm to and from a campsite for the purpose of lawful personal protection at the campsite.

  • Under section 26383, a person can carry an unloaded firearm on a place of residence, business, or private property if they receive permission from the property owner.

  • Section 26388 also allows the open carry of an unloaded firearm on publicly owned land as long as the person gets special permission from the managing agency.

Can Californians Move with an Open Carry Unloaded Long Gun?

Under California law, Californians can move around the state with an open carry unloaded long gun in their vehicle. It's important to note that covering the weapon with a blanket is illegal. Goss Law can also advise on questions like Can a DWI hurt your gun rights in California?

Legal Defenses for a Concealed Weapon Conviction

Legal Defenses for a Concealed Weapon Conviction

In some cases, a police officer may arrest an individual and convict them of concealed carry without a permit, even if the gun is inoperable. While the law does not require prosecutors to prove that the weapon was functional, it does require them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly carried the firearm while concealing it.

There are many defenses for defendants to use, including the lack of knowledge of the weapon, illegal search and seizure, self-defense purposes, and police misconduct, among others. It's crucial for the accused to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss their case and learn more about their legal options. They can also consult on the child access prevention law in California.

Goss Law Can Provide a Strong Defense Against a Concealed Weapon Charge!

Those facing charges for violating the concealed weapon law in Sacramento, California, should call to schedule a free consultation with the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Goss Law. They can assess the facts surrounding the case, build a strong defense, and fight for the criminal defendant's rights!


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