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California Gun Laws

Understanding Your Rights as a Gun Owner in California

According to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. citizens are granted the right to “keep and bear arms.” While this definitively protects your right to own firearms, the law is open to much interpretation. In California, gun owners face some of the country’s toughest gun laws and regulations—and these restrictions are constantly changing. It is important that you are aware of your rights as a law-abiding gun owner in California.

Virginia L. Landry, the Gun Queen, is widely recognized as an authority on California gun laws and a passionate advocate of gun education. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, we believe that responsible gun owners should be provided with all the information they need to be empowered to protect their rights. Read on to learn more about who is allowed to own/possess a gun in California, traveling to California with guns, school zone gun laws, illegal firearms in California, ammunition restrictions, firearm sales regulations, and more.

Need to speak to a California criminal defense attorney? Contact our office online or by phone at (888) 272-6668 for a free, confidential consultation. We are available 24/7.

Who Is Allowed to Own/Possess a Gun in California?

California law dictates who may—and who may not—own and/or possess a gun. In most cases, adults over the age of 21 are permitted to purchase a firearm in the state of California without a license. Adults who are at least 18 years of age are permitted to possess a firearm, though you must be at least 21 to actually buy a gun. Anyone who is allowed to legally own/possess a gun may keep the gun in their own home or private place of business. You are also allowed to transport a gun as long as it is kept in a locked container while in transit.

By law, certain people are typically barred from owning/possessing a gun in California. These people include:

  • Individuals under the age of 18
  • Anyone convicted of a felony
  • Individuals who have at least two convictions for brandishing a weapon
  • People convicted of certain misdemeanors
  • Anyone who has been placed on involuntary psychiatric hold at least two times in one year
  • Individuals who are addicted to narcotics

Anyone who is banned from owning/possessing a gun under California state law is also banned from owning/possessing ammunition. Additionally, if you are a gun owner who becomes ineligible to possess a firearm by law (if, for example, you are a gun owner who is convicted of a felony), you must relinquish all firearms to the relevant authorities.

Lastly, it is important to note that, by law, no one in the state of California is allowed to own a firearm that has been deemed illegal by state or federal law.

Traveling to California with Guns

Individuals who are traveling to California temporarily or who are moving to the state may bring their firearms, as long as they meet the specific criteria.

  • First and foremost, the guns you wish to bring into the state must be legal under California state law. No non-approved firearms, including banned assault weapons/rifles, can be brought into the state.
  • Secondly, you must be legally allowed to own/possess a gun according to California law. This means you must be at least 18 years old, have no felony convictions, and meet all other legal requirements.
  • If you are moving to California, you will need to do one of the following:
    • Register your firearms with the state within 60 days of bringing them in
    • Sell or transfer your firearms to another individual according to California state law within 60 days
    • Sell or transfer your firearms to a licensed dealer within 60 days
    • Sell or transfer your firearms to law enforcement authorities within 60 days

While these regulations apply to most individuals, there are certain exceptions to these rules, including exceptions for military personnel. Learn more about military gun laws here.

School Zone Gun Laws

California has strict laws regarding carrying firearms on or near school grounds. The California Gun-Free School Zone Act (Penal Code 626.9 PC) of 1995 prohibits the carrying, possession, or discharge of firearms in designated school zones. By law, “school zones” include any area that is within 1,000 feet of a school, regardless of whether the school is public or private. This includes most types of schools—elementary schools, middle schools, high schools—but does not include college campuses or universities.

Exceptions to this rule include if an individual legally possesses a firearm in his or her home or on private property that is not considered part of the “school zone,” even if it is within 1,000 feet of a school. Additionally, an individual who is legally transporting a gun in a locked trunk or container in his or her vehicle may pass through a school zone. Peace officers (active or retired) and security guards who are legally allowed to possess/carry a firearm are also exempt.

There are many other exemptions to this law which allow law-abiding gun owners to legally exercise their rights. However, if you have been charged with violating school zone gun laws, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry for a free consultation.

Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry to Learn More

California’s gun laws are incredibly varied and complex. Fortunately, Virginia L. Landry is well-versed on all aspects of legal gun ownership in the state. We invite you to browse our website to learn more about California-approved firearms, CCW requirements, California self-defense laws, firearms sentencing enhancements, and more. If you still have further questions or need to speak to an attorney about a weapon-related charge, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry as soon as possible for a free and confidential consultation.

We can be reached online or by phone at (888) 272-6668.