Legally owning and possessing a gun in California is a complicated issue. California has a large number of complex and restrictive regulations that dictate when, where and how a gun may be purchased, used and carried, and these regulations are considered to be among the toughest in the country. Consequently, it is somewhat easy to inadvertently trip these laws, and find oneself in need of a criminal defense attorney. Gun owners traveling into California from another state are usually at an additional disadvantage, since they likely will not know if they can bring a gun inside state borders. Generally, states are permitted to decide how much they want to restrict the carrying of guns by residents, as long as carry permits are not completely banned. However, Congress is seeking to pass a law that would require all states to recognize valid gun permits held by non-residents, and allow them to carry a firearm regardless of whether the state who originally issued the permit used the same level of scrutiny. The purpose of this bill is to reduce the burden, and the risk, of prosecution or arrest when gunowners travel. Until the bill is passed into law, though, anyone in California with a firearm must abide by California law, not the law where the gun was purchased or the carry permit issued. A discussion of who is restricted from possessing a gun in the state, and when California will issue carry permits, will follow below.
Restrictions on Possession/Ownership
California has varying levels of restrictions on the possession of firearms that are primarily driven by the government’s perception of individuals most likely to inflict harm. Generally speaking, these restrictions are tied to certain criminal convictions and mental incompetence, and range from a lifetime prohibition to less than one year. Lifetime prohibitions apply to:
- convictions for violent crimes, such as murder, kidnapping and robbery;
- two or more convictions for the unlawful use of a firearm in a fight or displaying a firearm in a threatening manner;
- anyone declared by a court to be a mentally disordered sex offender; and
- anyone declared incompetent to stand trial, or not guilty by reason of insanity.
In addition, there are prohibitions on gun possession that range from 10 years (certain misdemeanors, including assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm) to as little as six months (threatening a psychotherapist). Importantly, anyone facing a felony charge is not allowed to have a gun while the case is pending, which is just one of the issues an accused defendant may face, and highlights why an experienced criminal justice attorney to advise on such issues is so crucial.
Obtaining a Carry Permit
California makes no claims that getting a concealed carry permit is easy, and without this permit it is illegal to carry a gun, either loaded and unloaded, anywhere in the state. Officials do issue permits for firearms that can be concealed, if the following are proven:
- the person is of good moral character;
- good cause exists because the applicant or a family member is in immediate danger, and a firearm will mitigate it;
- the applicant meets residency requirements (resident within a county, or a city within a county); and
- the applicant completed an acceptable firearms training course.
Note that law enforcement agencies have almost complete discretion about whether to issue a permit, and a court will not overturn a denial unless there is evidence the decision was “arbitrary, capricious or entirely lacking in evidentiary support.” Additionally, having a permit does not excuse someone from the ban against carrying assault weapons, the law against prohibited weapons, and the law against brandishing a gun as a threat or in anger.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal convictions bring the potential loss of important constitutional rights, including the right to possess a gun. These rights are dear, and should not be relinquished without a fight. The Los Angeles law firm Manshoory Law Group, APC will provide the dedicated representation you need to fully and effectively counter claims made by the state. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us for a free consultation.