California CCW Info


California Concealed Carry - What you need to know?


We've recently gotten a glut of emails from people who either have job offers or just fell in love with California. While there's plenty of reasons to like this state, it's definitely a hard area when it comes to concealed carry rules. California is a may issue state and the counties are given a giant amount of leeway to interpret California's rules.


Concealed Carry Varies Greatly From County To County


CCW county rules in California

If you did a side-by-side comparison of concealed carry rates of approval and rejection in Los Angeles County versus the much more rural Fresno or San Bernardino counties, you're going to see very quickly that California is anything but uniform. The county government has broad over-reach in determining who's “fit” to be issued a concealed carry permit.


When moving to California, take a look at your county's issuing policy – usually available through the county's Sheriff's Department.


Fresno County Sheriff's Department gives the following guidance for first time concealed carry applicants.


  • All handguns must be listed on the concealed carry permit application.
  • Those handguns have to be registered to you or your spouse.
  • If you intend to carry at your place of work, your employer has to give you express permission in writing unless you own the business.
  • You obviously have to be a primary resident of Fresno County. So, you can't live in LA and drive out to Fresno county to obtain a concealed carry permit.
  • The sheriff may issue you a permit based upon his discretion.
  • You have to be fingerprinted by the sheriff.
  • You have to complete an approved CCW course.
  • You have up to 90 days before receiving a written notice of whether or not you've been accepted for a concealed carry permit.

Why are we listing out Fresno's requirements versus Los Angeles or San Francisco? Well, as you'll see in a little bit: those rules are outright draconian. Fresno, as strict as it may be for many concealed carriers used to other states' shall issue style, at least has a clear cut path from application to issuance/denial.


Out-of-state concealed carry permit is no good in California.


california ccw laws

Tennessee, Michigan, Idaho, and plenty of other states issue resident concealed carry permits that are good in the vast majority of states around the country. Unfortunately, California is one of those states that does not acknowledge other states' concealed carry permit. So if you see that “Welcome To California” road sign approaching and you have a gun on your person or loaded and accessible in your vehicle – pull over, unload, and lock it up. California has a “no nonsense” take on guns. Like New Jersey, this is one state where you do not want to be caught carrying when and where you're not supposed to. If interested check our concealed carry map to see California CCW reciprocity.


Get used to proving “good cause”


ccw rules in california state

Los Angeles and San Francisco are just two of the major cities that require residents to prove “good cause” when obtaining a concealed carry permit. If you're unsure of what that means, it basically means they get to decide whether or not they think you should have a concealed carry permit. Spoiler alert: they don't think you should get to carry a gun with you.


San Francisco is notorious about rejecting almost every single applicant who applies for a concealed carry permit. Sadly, living right up the road in San Mateo County will be a much easier process. That's how jilted the California system is. The worst part is if you apply for a concealed carry permit and are rejected – that's permanently on your record. This will make your next application much harder to get approved. There's really no upside to this.


In conclusion, if you're moving to California – do your homework in advance. You don't want to frolic into your local Sheriff's station only to wind up with a rejection on your record. Plan out which county you intend on living in and make sure their sheriff has a good temperament towards law abiding concealed carry.


James England  

About The Author


James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.