The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives the people the right to purchase and possess firearms. However, depending on the state you live in, you may or may not be able to legally purchase and possess a weapon.
The combination of California law and U.S. policy prevents the following groups of people from possessing a gun in the state of California
- Anyone convicted of a felony of any kind (in any jurisdiction)
- Anyone addicted to narcotics
- Anyone who has been convicted twice or more for violations of Penal Code 417 (brandishing a deadly weapon)
- People convicted of certain misdemeanors
- Anyone under indictment in court for a crime serious enough to warrant imprisonment for more than one year
- Any fugitives from justice
- Anyone under a court order for stalking offenses
- Anyone dishonorably discharged from the military
- Anyone who has renounced U.S. citizenship
- Illegal aliens
In addition to this long list of prohibited persons, California prohibits those with documented mental illnesses from acquiring or possessing firearms. Mental illnesses vary widely and present in many different ways, so the state of California categorizes the mental health-related prohibited categories in this way:
- Adjudication: In this case, the person has been deemed mentally ill in some type of court scenario. This may include pleading guilty by reason of mental insanity or being determined mentally unfit to stand trial (or, in cases of sexual offenses, being ruled a mentally disordered sex offender).
- Inpatient treatment: A person who has been admitted to a mental health facility and is receiving inpatient treatment for the illness is prohibited from owning a firearm if the attending physician believes the person to be a danger to him or herself or others. This restriction ends when the patient is discharged from the facility, and it applies whether or not the person consented to the treatment (as opposed to federal law, which only applies to people who were voluntarily admitted).
- 72-hour detention: If a person is admitted to a mental health facility and held for 72 hours in order to prevent being a harm to him or herself or others, he or she cannot legally possess a weapon for five years from the 72-hour hold. The person may petition the court for earlier access to firearms, depending on the circumstances.
- 14-day detention: Similar to a 72-hour detention, if the person was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment for 14 days, he or she may not purchase or possess a firearm for up to five years after the detention.
- Threats of violence: If a person communicates a threat of violence to a licensed medical professional, he or she cannot possess a firearm for up to five years after the health professional reports the threat to law enforcement. The prohibited person may petition the court to have the prohibition removed, as long as the state cannot prove (by a preponderance of evidence in a hearing that the person is likely to use the gun in an unsafe or unlawful way.
- Conservatorship: If the person is under court-ordered conservatorship for a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism, he or she will not be able to lawfully possess a firearm until the conservatorship has ended.