Just because you’re legally allowed to own a firearm in California, it doesn’t mean you have an instant right to do whatever you want with it. For example, while you’re allowed to own a firearm and even carry it with you if that same firearm is loaded, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble.
The topic of carrying a loaded firearm in California is covered in Penal Code 25850 PC. When you read through the law, you’ll find that even though you have an ownership license for the firearm, if that firearm is loaded, you’re not allowed to have it:
- While on a public street
- While in a public place
- While cruising the streets in your car
When you read through Penal Code 25850, you’ll discover that this is a very complex law. It states that:
“(a) A person is guilty of carrying a loaded firearm when the person carries a loaded firearm on the person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or in any public place or on any public street in a prohibited area of unincorporated territory.
(b) In order to determine whether or not a firearm is loaded for the purpose of enforcing this section, peace officers are authorized to examine any firearm carried by anyone on the person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or prohibited area of an unincorporated territory. Refusal to allow a peace officer to inspect a firearm pursuant to this section constitutes probable cause for arrest for violation of this section.”
The other thing that is very confusing is how this impacts the right to carry a concealed weapon in California. What many don’t realize is that you’re not allowed to carry a concealed weapon in California. Getting caught with a loaded concealed weapon can result in yet more criminal charges.
The thing you have to understand is that while California lawmakers are willing to allow you to have a gun that you can use to defend yourself and your property from criminal elements, they want you to leave that firearm at home. If you feel that you must have the firearm with you, you must:
- Make sure the firearm isn’t loaded
- Must make sure it’s securely locked away, preferably in a locked case, though locked in your trunk will also suffice.
It’s straight-up illegal to carry a concealed firearm in California, just like it’s illegal to have a loaded firearm on you while you’re out and about.
Getting caught with a loaded firearm in California is illegal, but it’s also one of the state’s wobbler offenses. Factors that determine whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor include:
- If you have previous drug or gang-related convictions on your record
- If you were the legal owner of the gun
If you’re convicted of the misdemeanor of having a loaded weapon in a public space, you could be sentenced to a year in a county jail and/or required to pay a $1,000 fine. Certain prior convictions on your record could mean a mandatory three months in a county jail.
If you’re convicted of a felony of having a loaded weapon in California, the maximum sentence is up to three years of incarceration and/or a $1,000 fine.