The state of California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S., and violating firearm laws can have serious consequences. In certain parts of the state, particularly urban areas, authorities can even refuse to issue concealed weapons permits in the interest of public safety (which can make things complicated when someone from another jurisdiction lawfully carries a concealed weapon in these areas). Concealed weapon laws vary from place to place, with certain communities passing restrictive laws that make obtaining and owning a firearm particularly difficult.
However, when it comes to obtaining a concealed weapon permit, the process is the same statewide. The requirements for obtaining a CCW permit are found in California Penal Code Section 26150 and 26155. In order to obtain a permit to carry a “pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person” under this statute, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Applicant must be of “good moral character.”
- Applicant must have good cause for the CCW permit.
- Applicant must meet residency requirements by residing in the county he or she is applying in or having a principal place of employment/business in the county.
- Applicant must have completed an approved course of firearms training.
The “good cause” criteria for obtaining a CCW permit has spurred much legal and political debate throughout the state. In the past, having “good cause” for a concealed weapon meant you must prove that (1) there is a clear and present danger for you or your immediate family and (2) having a concealed weapon would diminish that danger.
However, thanks to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, this may not be the case for long. The federal court ruling in Peruta v. San Diego County struck down the “good cause” criteria as required by the San Diego County sheriff, saying the Second Amendment right to bear arms includes the right to carry firearms outside the home—a right that was denied to most people under the “good cause” provision. In certain jurisdictions, applicants now only need to prove that they need a concealed weapon for personal safety or self-defense, rather than a set of extreme circumstances.
Certain events or personal behavior can disqualify you from legal gun ownership in California. If one of the following criteria applies, you are prohibited from owning, possessing, buying, or receiving firearms in California:
- You have been convicted of a felony or certain types of misdemeanors listed in Penal Code 29805.
- You have been ordered not to possess firearms as a condition of probation or court order
- You have been convicted of a domestic violence offense
- You are subject to a temporary restraining order, injunction, or protective order (as detailed in the Code of Civil Procedures, Family Code, Penal Code, or Welfare and Institutions Code)
- You are addicted to narcotic drugs
- You have been diagnosed with a mental illness or found not guilty of a court due to mental incompetence or insanity
A full list of categories that prohibit firearm purchase and possession can be found on page 12 of the California Department of Justice’s Application for License to Carry a Concealed Weapon.