What is a California CCW?
A license to carry a concealed firearm on your person in public subject to restrictions placed upon it by statute and the issuing department. The law allows a person to keep a firearm in their home and at their place of business without a permit. No CCW is required to keep a firearm in the home or place of employment if it is your business.
What are the requirements for a California CCW?
1. Legal resident
2. At least 21 years of age
3. Good Cause
4. Good Moral Character
What is Good Cause?
You must articulate a situation or circumstances whereby the department can determine you have a need, not a desire, to carry a concealed firearm. There is an Attorney General Opinion which defines Good Cause.
How easy is it to get a Californian Concealed Weapon Permit?
This varies from county to county and from city to city. Rural counties are normally easier than suburban counties. Good Cause is the variable that applicants must deal with. Statute and case law require departments to make an individual evaluation of each applicant’s Good Cause. Some departments list on their policies certain professions and occupations that under some circumstances will satisfy their Good Cause requirements.
Where does one apply for a California CCW?
If you live in a city with a municipal Police Department you apply to them. In you live in unincorporated county or a city that contract’s for law enforcement with the County Sheriff’s Department, you apply to the Sheriff’s Department. Some cities delegate their authority to issue CCW’s to the Sheriff by entering into an agreement called a (MOU) Memorandum of Understanding. You can contact the appropriate department in person or by mail to request a copy of their CCW Policy and the DOJ Application. All departments are, by statute and case law, required to have written policies which are available to the public upon request. Police Chiefs are appointed officials who will generally follow the whim of the city council or other appointing entity. County Sheriffs are elected officials who, by definition, represent the county populous and their wants.
What are the costs?
It varies from department to department but the average is about $500.00. Most of the costs are set by statute and as such are non refundable. This fee is for the initial permit. Renewals run about $250 every two years after the original permit is issued.
Are there additional requirements?
Yes. Statute requires applicants to complete a course in firearm safety and the law regarding the permissible use of a firearm. Departments may also require the applicant to demonstrate proficiency at their range and submit all weapons to be carried for a safety inspection. Applicants are required to submit to Live Scan for a DOJ records check. Departments may require a Psychological test of applicants.
Are there restrictions on what type of firearm I can carry?
Firearms carried pursuant to a CCW should ideally be on the Attorney General’s approved list, though this is not mandatory. Go with a standard firearm from an established manufacturer. Many departments will not allow any modifications except for changing grips. This includes trigger jobs and no laser sights, unless you know in advance that the department is happy with them (many are not).
Many departments limit you to three, identified, firearms and require you to qualify with each of these.
Are there restrictions on how many firearms can be on my permit?
Yes. Departments can restrict the number of firearms you may have on your permit. Keep in mind most departments will require that you qualify with all weapons listed on your permit.
Can the departments impose stricter requirements than those set by statute?
Yes, but they must be able to demonstrate the requirement’s relevance to the CCW. Requirements added simply to deter applicants will not stand a court challenge.
Can the departments restrict issue to citizens only?
Many of them try this, but it is illegal. See People v. Rappard (1973) and Dorsey v. LVMPD (1972). I’m afraid we have no links for these (as they are so old), but Mr. Dorsey (British citizen) is better known as Englebert Humperdink.
Also, California’s alien firearm licensing act was (I am informed) shot down in the 1970’s but again I have no details of this.
Added by a CALGUNS.org contributor:
The pre-1972 version of PC 12021 prohibited aliens from having concealable guns. It was struck down because it denied aliens of equal protection. I assume this is fair use: “People v Rappard (1972, 2d Dist) 28 Cal App 3d 302, 104 Cal Rptr 535, the court held that a state statute making it unlawful for aliens to own or possess concealable firearms constituted a denial of equal protection of the law under the United States and California Constitutions.
The court said that the protection afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition against a state’s denial of equal protection of the law to “any person” within its jurisdiction extends to aliens as well as to citizens of the United States, and that since classifications based upon alienage are inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny, the court must invoke the following strict standard when receiving a discriminatory statute based upon alienage: not only must the classification reasonably relate to the purposes of the law, but also the state must bear the burden of establishing that the classification constitutes a necessary means of accomplishing a legitimate state interest, and that the law serves to promote a compelling state interest.
The court stated further that the classification of the statute — alienage — had no reasonable relationship to the threat to public safety which it was ostensibly designed to prevent and that any classification which treats all aliens as dangerous and all United States citizens as trustworthy rests upon a very questionable basis. The court concluded, therefore, that the state did not sustain its burden of establishing that the classification — based upon the suspect factor of alienage — not only promoted a compelling interest which justified the law but that the distinctions drawn by the law were necessary to further its purpose.”
What if my application is denied?
you have the right to request an appeal which may be in writing or a personal interview at the discretion of the department with a designee of the Chief or Sheriff. If you want to appeal you must do so within the time frames set by the department. If the denial is affirmed you have the right to pursue your case in state or Federal court. Success in state court has been spotty. Federal court has proven to be friendlier to persons denied Due Process or Equal Protection when applying for CCW’s under the 14th Amendment. Please see Case Law for more information.
Can I inspect the applications of persons granted or denied?
Yes. The California Government Code, Public Records Act allows you to inspect these files during business hours and to purchase copies. Some authorities try to make this more difficult than it should be. We have people who can guide you in these efforts. Please see statutes for more information.
I have a permit from (any other state). Is my permit honored in California?
California does not honor any other state’s concealed weapons permits!
What are the consequences of carrying without a permit?
The consequences for carrying without a permit can be bad. Leave it at that. This site does not endorse intentional illegal acts. You can only carry a concealed firearm if properly licensed. There is some discussion that “Open Carry” without a permit is legal, depending upon factors such as whether the location is incorporated, or not, and whether the firearm is loaded or not. As this is a site dedicated to CCW permits, we will not persue this issue further.
What can I carry, once permitted?
A California CCW entitles the licensee to carry any handgun listed on the permit. This does not cover batons, knives, shotguns, long guns, etc. Handguns may be removed or added to the permit (subject to the department’s maximum) as you need to, except that you will usually be required to qualify with the new handgun and pay the required fee, typically $10.00.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who is filling out an application for a Concealed Weapon permit?
Do not submit an application that is incomplete. Be honest with all your answers. You will be allowed to explain any negative information you provide. Your initial application is how you will be judged. Even if you appeal a denial, your initial application is the issuing authority’s first impression of you.
GET IT RIGHT FIRST TIME. A denial is hard to overturn if you look as if you are going to swap things around until you “get it right.” If you are in doubt, talk with us first.
I own a vacation property in XX County, and permits are easier to get there than where my primary residence is. Can I use that address?
No. Even if you can fudge the application to make it appear as the other address is your primary residence, you are lying on an official form. This site does not endorse intentional illegal acts. Rest assured, anything you claim on the application will be verified. Anything you state that is untruthful will come to light and will likely jeopardize your ability to ever get a permit.
I live in X County, but I work in Z County. Where do I apply?
You must apply in your county of residence. If you live in a city with its own Police Department, you may be able to apply to that PD.
What about open carry?
At this time (2010) TBJ does NOT encourage the average person to “open carry.”
In order to Open Carry safely and legally, you need to be aware of where you may and where you may not legally carry, the 1,000 feet barrier around school zones, the fact that mostly you may only carry unloaded, the fact that (mostly) magazines must also be openly displayed, and that (mostly) police officers are entitled to stop you to check that your firearm is unloaded (the “mostly”‘s are to allow for those unincorporated areas where carrying loaded and openly may be legal). Although many departments have issued guidelines to educate their officers, there is a possibility of encounters with antagonistic officers unaware of the law, who may, until the situation is cleared up, treat you as a criminal.
Even those aware people who actually practice this form of carry in California generally advise that you carry a voice recorder, turned on at the first sign of police officers, that you carefully map the 1,000ft gun-free zone around each school, that, ideally, you have a friend nearby with a video recorder and have available ten to twenty thousand dollars for attorney fees and bail.
There is (2010) pending legislation that, if it becomes law, will make even unloaded open carry (UOC) illegal.
Can I open carry if I have a Concealed Carry permit?
We do not recommend this either at this time. If nothing else, many chief law enforcement officers will (rightly or wrongly) “pull” your permit if this is reported to them.
If I have a California CCW, can I use it outside of California?
See this page for more concealed carry reciprocity states.
Can I carry in a Theme Park?
This is at the discretion of the park owners. However,\ we do not know of any theme park where this is permitted, even though you might have a CCW.
I’ve heard you can get a permit from an authority where you have a business, even though you don’t live there?
This is true, they are valid only 90 days and the issuing department must notify the department where the applicant resides.
I’m going to visit California, can I bring my firearms?
I am a Florida resident with a valid CCW permit. I plan to travel to the San Francisco area within the month. I am having problems finding the state laws for bringing protective arms into the state. Our reason for travel is recreational, however, I generally like to have access to my sidearm just in case…
California does not recognize any other state’s CCW permit. However, you may still bring your firearms provided that they comply with California law and you carry them as required by California law. Note that California is quite restrictive concerning certain items such as so-called “Assault rifles” and large capacity magazines.. We will not go into the ins and outs of what qualifies as an “Assault Weapon” in California, If you don’t know, leave anything like that at home. Your main problem might be that California has a ban on importing (buying, selling or manufacturing) pistol magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds. If your handgun uses these, you need to leave them at home and either leave the pistol at home or buy some Cali-legal ten round mags.
Note: The following is a simplification of the law. If you are prepared to dig deep enough into penal codes, you might find that there are a couple of inaccuracies in what we say below. However, unfortunately, many law enforcement officers don’t know the details either, so we have chosen to give you a simplified view, designed to keep you out of trouble.
For example, if you are familiar with People v. Clark you would know that you can carry a loaded magazine in much closer proximity to the firearm than we have indicated below. However, many law enforcement officers have not read this case and would prefer to let their sergeant sort it out back at the station.
Basically, your only safe course of action (if you must bring your firearm(s)) is to get yourself a secure lockable case. This case should contain your unloaded gun(s) and be locked. There should be no ammo in, or near, the case, whether it is in a magazine or not.
The case should be in your car trunk. If you do not have one, then it should NOT be within reach of the driver or passengers. It is ILLEGAL to keep the gun (unloaded or not, locked container or not) in the center console or glove box.
You may only carry the case containing your gun when on a journey where the gun is relevant. I.e., you may bring it to your hotel, you may take it to a dealer or shooting range, you may take it home. The rest of the time the gun should NOT be in your car.
The gun should stay unloaded in this locked box except:
1. When you are in your hotel room (where you may keep a loaded gun), campsite (where you may keep a loaded gun) or someone’s private residence (with permission)
2. when you are in an approved firing area (effectively a range or hunting venue).
3. At a gun dealer.
You may NOT bring high capacity (over ten round) magazines into the state.
San Francisco is one of the least gun-friendly parts of California. Any officer suspecting that you have a gun will give you a hard time – even if you are transporting it correctly. Similarly, even though Cal State law theoretically permits firearms in your hotel room, or camp site, keep it, and all its accessories, out of sight. We heard the other day of a hotel resident getting into trouble with the hotel for leaving an unloaded magazine (still in its manufacturer’s packaging) in sight. He got no room service whatsoever for the rest of his stay – no cleaning, no beds made, no fresh towels, nothing.
You say “So I can have access . . “ BEWARE, you are not allowed to have access, except as described above. You might think that the locked case, out of reach, not near ammo, only when travelling to the range, etc. makes your firearm useless in an emergency. You would be correct; that is the intent.
Unless you have a strong reason to bring a firearm, I suggest you leave it at home.
THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE and it is a simplified contraction of the necessary information. However, it should keep you out of trouble.
Welcome to California, Hope this helps,
What is a “MOU”?
A Memorandum of Understanding is a provision of PC 12050 that permits a Chief (or Chiefs) to delegate the authority to issue CCW’s to the Sheriff. The theory being having one issuing authority for the entire county would guarantee uniformity and fairness in the issuance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Also known as “Declaring G” after the letter associated with the appropriate paragraph in PC 12050.
What is a “Declaring G”?
How do I find out if there’s something bad in my history, that I’m not aware of?
Call California Department of Justice (800) 952-5225.
You will be directed through a recorded phone tree to dial 1 or 2 for options, leading you to criminal history checks.
Stay on the line, a technician will answer the line.
You must request a “RECORD REVIEW PACKET”
It will be mailed to you.
Fill it out, get yourself fingerprinted, mail it back to DOJ, with the fee, and wait 2-8 weeks.
If you discover erroneous information; there is a separate procedure to follow to get this corrected.