ccw in california

How California Gun Laws Affect Concealed Carry

Just mentioning California gun laws elicits an emotional response from gun owners, no matter what side of the political aisle that may be on due to their concealed carry restrictions.


Those learning how these laws work and how to comply with them in order to carry a concealed firearm in this state should note that the process will require a bit of leg work.


As in many states, it is illegal to carry a concealed handgun in California without the appropriate permit and approved background.


How To Apply For A California Concealed Carry Permit

california ccw permits

California Penal Code Sections 26150(a) When a person applies for a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, the sheriff of a county may issue a license to that person upon proof of all of the following:
(1) The applicant is of good moral character.
(2) Good cause exists for issuance of the license.
(3) The applicant is a resident of the county or a city within the county, or the applicant’s principal place of employment or business is in the county or a city within the county and the applicant spends a substantial period of time in that place of employment or business.
(4) The applicant has completed a course of training as described in Section 26165.
(b) The sheriff may issue a license under subdivision (a) in either of the following formats:
(1) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(2) Where the population of the county is less than 200,000 persons according to the most recent federal decennial census, a license to carry loaded and exposed in only that county a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(c) (1) Nothing in this chapter shall preclude the sheriff of the county from entering into an agreement with the chief or other head of a municipal police department of a city to process all applications for licenses, renewals of licenses, or amendments to licenses pursuant to this chapter, in lieu of the sheriff.
(2) This subdivision shall only apply to applicants who reside within the city in which the chief or other head of the municipal police department has agreed to process applications for licenses, renewals of licenses, and amendments to licenses, pursuant to this chapter.
and 26155(a) When a person applies for a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, the chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city or city and county may issue a license to that person upon proof of all of the following:
(1) The applicant is of good moral character.
(2) Good cause exists for issuance of the license.
(3) The applicant is a resident of that city.
(4) The applicant has completed a course of training as described in Section 26165.
(b) The chief or other head of a municipal police department may issue a license under subdivision (a) in either of the following formats:
(1) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(2) Where the population of the county in which the city is located is less than 200,000 persons according to the most recent federal decennial census, a license to carry loaded and exposed in only that county a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(c) Nothing in this chapter shall preclude the chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city from entering an agreement with the sheriff of the county in which the city is located for the sheriff to process all applications for licenses, renewals of licenses, and amendments to licenses, pursuant to this chapter.
establish the county sheriff or chief of police in a municipal police department as the issuing authority for a California concealed carry permit.


The state’s attorney general, as per California Penal Code section 26175(a) (1) Applications for licenses and applications for amendments to licenses under this article shall be uniform throughout the state, upon forms to be prescribed by the Attorney General.
(2) The Attorney General shall convene a committee composed of one representative of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, one representative of the California Police Chiefs Association, and one representative of the Department of Justice to review, and, as deemed appropriate, revise the standard application form for licenses. The committee shall meet for this purpose if two of the committee’s members deem that necessary.
(3) (A) The Attorney General shall develop a uniform license that may be used as indicia of proof of licensure throughout the state.
(B) The Attorney General shall approve the use of licenses issued by local agencies that contain all the information required in subdivision (i), including a recent photograph of the applicant, and are deemed to be in substantial compliance with standards developed by the committee described in subparagraph (C), if developed, as they relate to the physical dimensions and general appearance of the licenses. The Attorney General shall retain exemplars of approved licenses and shall maintain a list of agencies issuing local licenses. Approved licenses may be used as indicia of proof of licensure under this chapter in lieu of the uniform license developed by the Attorney General.
(C) A committee composed of two representatives of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, two representatives of the California Police Chiefs Association, and one representative of the Department of Justice shall convene to review and revise, as the committee deems appropriate, the design standard for licenses issued by local agencies that may be used as indicia of proof of licensure throughout the state, provided that the design standard meets the requirements of subparagraph (B). The committee shall meet for this purpose if two of the committee’s members deem it necessary.
(b) The application shall include a section summarizing the requirements of state law that result in the automatic denial of a license.
(c) The standard application form for licenses described in subdivision (a) shall require information from the applicant, including, but not limited to, the name, occupation, residence, and business address of the applicant, the applicant’s age, height, weight, color of eyes and hair, and reason for desiring a license to carry the weapon.
(d) Applications for licenses shall be filed in writing and signed by the applicant.
(e) Applications for amendments to licenses shall be filed in writing and signed by the applicant, and shall state what type of amendment is sought pursuant to Section 26215 and the reason for desiring the amendment.
(f) The forms shall contain a provision whereby the applicant attests to the truth of statements contained in the application.
(g) An applicant shall not be required to complete any additional application or form for a license, or to provide any information other than that necessary to complete the standard application form described in subdivision (a), except to clarify or interpret information provided by the applicant on the standard application form.
, provides a standardized application form for the California CCW license.


Applicants will only receive a license if their respective issuing authority confirms:

  • They’re of good character.
  • There’s good cause to issue the license.
  • The applicant is a resident of the county or city they’re applying within, or the applicant’s place of business is in the county or city they’re applying within and they spend a “substantial period of time in that place of employment or business.”
  • The applicant has completed a training course.

According to California Penal Code Section 26165, new applicants must complete a training course that’s no more than 16 hours long. Depending on the issuing authority, there may be a requirement to attend a community college course up to 24 hours long in total.


It depends on the county and city one is applying in. When to start the training course is also dependent on the issuing authority. Many counties and cities will give the green light after receiving and processing the application. When renewing the license, additional training is required and the course must be no less than four hours long.


Those applying for a CCW license will be fingerprinted, and those fingerprints will be ran in state and federal criminal records. There are about 18 categories that determine whether or not the applicant is eligible to own and possess firearms, and they are printed on the regularly updated application form — legal, criminal, mental health, sex offender, controlled substances, citizenship, dishonorable military and other types of backgrounds may prohibit the applicant.


There are more than 40 different types of misdemeanors that may disqualify the applicant.

Additionally, some jurisdictions may require psychological testing from a licensed psychologist when submitting the initial application and renewal application. This may cost the applicant up to $150.


Again, this is dependent on the issuing authority. California’s approach to concealed carry is highly dependent on the issuing authority. Where some rural counties may be relaxed with their licensing approach, heavier density populations may face most scrutiny, typically speaking.


The application, which is the same for the initial and renewal, will have some sections that must be written in the presence of the issuing authority. There will also be a section that must be answered orally to the issuing authority.


The make, model, caliber and serial number for the concealed weapons the applicant intends to carry will be written on the application.


Those hunting and fishing, notably, do not need a license to carry a concealed handgun while engaged in their respective activity. However, if they’re traveling to or from a location, then the weapon must be unloaded and locked in the trunk or in a container.


As California is a may-issue state, completing the application does not guarantee the applicant will receive the CCW license.


This is not formal legal advice, nor an exhaustive guide to firearms carry in California, which is constantly changing every year in some shape or form.


Those passing through California will be subject to the state’s gun laws as well.

California Concealed Carry Reciprocity

california ccw reciprocity

California concealed carry reciprocity is limited, to say the least.

California does not recognize valid permits issued by other states. Nearly half of the U.S. recognizes the California CCW license, however.


Those temporarily in California, who are over 18 years old and are not prohibited to possess firearms, may transport unloaded firearms in their vehicle’s locked trunk or in a locked container.


If carried to or from the motor vehicle for any lawful purpose, it must be in a locked container.

If someone moves to California and they own firearms, there are certain registration requirements for new residents. Within 60 days, they must be reported to the California Department of Justice and a New Resident Firearm Ownership (BOF 4010A) must be submitted.


Note, however, that ammunition feeding devices with a capacity greater than ten rounds, machine guns and assault weapons are prohibited to be brought into California.


Beyond reciprocity, the standards for concealed carry for residents are similarly restrictive.

Peruta V. San Diego Recently Shaped Concealed Carry In California

california ccw laws

In 2014, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned San Diego county’s may-issue procedure, which restricted legal access to concealed carry in California for a large population.


It was deemed a violation of Second Amendment rights, and the change to new quasi-shall-issue standards was a victory for concealed carriers. The San Diego Sheriff said he would not seek en banc review of the case and that he would begin issuing permits as soon as the appeals court decision was finalized.


However, the California State Attorney General, Kamala Harris, filed a petition for the court of appeals to review and reverse the decision. The bid was then declined in November 2014 by a U.S. Court of Appeals panel.


The Ninth Circuit Chief, Judge Thomas, however, once again opened the case up, ruling that the initial 2-1 decision in Peruta v. San Diego would not be precedent in any Ninth Circuit court, according to state reports.


It was then found that “the right of a member of the general public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment."


Although concealed carry is strictly scrutinized in the state, the means to apply for a license is there.


Qualifying for the license, however, is another matter entirely.

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gun blog writer jake smith  

About The Author


Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the pacific northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.