ATTENTION GUN OWNERS & FUTURE GUN OWNERS: GET CONCEALED CARRY CERTIFIED BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

California Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws

Everything you need to know about owning a firearm in the state of California

California State Seal

California Reciprocity Map

Last Updated: 2021

California Concealed Carry Reciprocity Overview

39.9M

STATE POPULATION

121K

LICENSES ISSUED

0.3%

LICENSE PERCENTAGE

0

STATES HONORED

18

MINIMUM AGE TO CC

2

YEARS LICENSE VALID

27

RECIPROCATING STATES

NO

CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY

15

CC CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS

Responsible gun ownership and good citizenship go hand in hand. Achieving both requires understanding the gun rights and laws in your home state and beyond. California is home to 39.6 million people and has granted around 121,000 concealed carry (CC) licenses as of August 2021, meaning only 0.31% of the population are allowed to CC.

Understanding reciprocity – how your gun rights translate across state lines – is essential to California concealed carry. A concealed weapons license from California is honored in 27 states, but California doesn’t recognize permits or licenses from anywhere else. The minimum age to CC is 21 and the license is valid for two years.

You need an education partner you can trust if you’re interested in obtaining your California concealed carry license. Concealed Coalition has trained over a million U.S. citizens to carry their weapons safely and effectively. Contact us to find online or local training to get your CCW permit certification.

California Concealed Carry Classes and Gun Laws

Summary of California Gun Laws

Your California Gun Rights

Gun rights can differ depending on where you are, even within the same state. Californians should always contact their applicable local police station or county sheriff’s office for the latest CC information.

California is a “may issue” state, meaning an applicant successfully meeting the state’s requirements for ownership is not guaranteed a license. Law enforcement officers decide who will be granted a concealed carry weapon license (CCWL).

Any firearm sale must be conducted through a licensed dealer, and firearms may not be passed to a minor under any circumstances. Buying a handgun requires a background check, a purchase permit, and a Department of Justice (DOJ) report.

Anyone bringing firearms into California is considered a personal firearms importer under state law (see FAQ 25). This requires reporting the weapons to the DOJ and comes with restrictions.

Open Carry in California

This varies between localities due to the powers of area law enforcement. It’s not generally permitted in counties with a population below 200,000. This makes it even more important for Californians to consult with these agencies when seeking to carry in their own city and county or between cities and counties.

Concealed Carry in California

A California CCWL is subject to restrictions imposed at the discretion of the issuer, which may include location and purpose. The state requires training in gun safety and state firearms laws for a CCWL, with courses not to exceed 16 hours, or a community college course not to exceed 24 hours certified by the state.

Self Defense Laws in California

California law regarding the use of force is based on the Castle Doctrine, meaning Californians have no duty to retreat from an aggressor under certain circumstances.

Use of Force

Use of force up to serious bodily harm is permitted to defend self, family, or household members when under the reasonable belief that a forced entry has occurred.

Use of Deadly Force

It’s permitted under California Penal Code 198.5, which states that anyone using such force within their residence will be presumed to have justifiably defended themselves, a family member, or a member of the household, provided they believed an unlawful entry occurred with intent to cause great physical harm or death.

Protecting Yourself After Use of Force

It’s vital to be aware of the legal definitions of acceptable use of force before acting against an aggressor. Force to these levels is not permitted in California against a member of the family or household. Force may be used only under circumstances sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person.

Firearms training is a reliable way to gain situational and legal awareness in applying force. Concealed Coalition has trained people nationwide to become responsible, certified gun owners. Classes are available locally and online.

California Gun Laws by Statute

Concealed Coalition is dedicated to dispelling the myths surrounding gun ownership and promoting a culture of understanding, responsibility, and confidence. Our certified instructors are qualified across multiple states, and our online or local training classes provide convenient learning environments run by instructors who care.

Contact us today at (916) 229-9649 or email to discuss your concealed carry permit educational needs..

Quick Links

California Concealed Carry Classes with a State Certified Instructor

CONCEALED CARRY BASICS IN CALIFORNIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Does California recognize constitutional carry?

No.

Is open carry permitted in California?

Partial, with a California Concealed Weapons License (CCWL) and valid only in a county with a population of less than 200,000 persons. Otherwise California law prohibits any person from carrying an exposed and loaded or unloaded handgun upon his or her person outside of a vehicle in a public place. 

What is the minimum age in California to get a concealed carry license?

18 years of age.

Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in California?

Yes, if 19 or older with no felony record. Restrictions apply on carry locations.

Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in California?

Yes, with volume, weight, and labeling requirements.

Does California have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?

It’s generally illegal to buy, manufacture, import, keep for sale, expose for sale, give, or lend any large-capacity magazine able to accept more than 10 rounds in California.

Does California have ammunition restrictions?

Nobody under 21 or a nonresident of the state can legally buy ammo. Armor-piercing ammo is prohibited, as is buying fixed ammo of calibers above 0.60 or .50 Browning Machine Gun rounds. Nonresidents are not permitted to bring ammo into California. Incendiary and explosive ammo are prohibited, and anyone buying ammo must pay $1 for a background check from a licensed vendor.

CONCEALED CARRY LOCATIONS IN CALIFORNIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Where can't I carry a concealed firearm in California?

The law prohibits CC in:

  • Any location prohibited by federal law
  • Private property or private businesses
  • Any areas prohibited on your CCWL by your local law enforcement agency
  • Courtrooms if you’re involved in a case
  • School grounds for grades K through 12 and colleges or universities (without permission)
  • Childcare facilities
  • Political residences
  • Events or showcases centered on guns while in possession of ammo that may fit such weapons
  • Polling stations
  • The state Capitol
  • Premises reserved for hearings, legislation, or belonging to governors or correctional officers
    San Francisco county property
  • In any public space while masked
  • Wildlife refuges and management areas
  • Sacramento Cal Expo Center
  • Any location primarily existing for on-site service and consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • During any employment strike action

Never consider any list of restricted locations exhaustive. Call ahead to ask about an intended location’s firearms policy.

Where can I carry a concealed firearm in California?

CC licensees may carry in places of worship if permitted by the owners. Other accepted locations are covered later in this FAQ.

Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in California?

Only with a CCWL.

Can you carry a concealed firearm at roadside rest areas in California?

Only with a CCWL.

Can you carry a concealed firearm in state/national parks, state/national forest and Wildlife Management Areas in California?

Yes, with a CCWL. Contact the location for any restrictions.

Can you carry a concealed firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in California?

Yes, provided it’s not their primary purpose, and with the owner’s permission.

Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in California?

Hotels are private businesses and can set their own rules. Check to clarify their position in advance.

Does California have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?

This isn’t addressed by law, making it essential to comply with your employer’s stance.

IMPORTANT GUNS LAWS IN CALIFORNIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Do you have a duty to notify a police officer that you're carrying a concealed firearm in California?

There’s no legal requirement to do so at the state level, but volunteering this information to law officers demonstrates cooperation and positive transparency.

Are "No Weapons Allowed? signs enforced in California? If, yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If, no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.

No, but people must respect the wishes of property owners and businesses on whether firearms are welcome. Remaining after a request to leave could lead to charges of trespass.

Does California have preemption laws related to concealed carry (i.e., Does state law supersede local laws regarding the possession of handguns)?

Yes. Local authorities do have some power to regulate certain aspects of firearms possession, so contact your local law enforcement for complete details.

Does California have a red flag law?

Yes.

Does California state law define brandishing?

Not explicitly, but it’s an offense to display or draw a loaded or unloaded firearm in a hostile manner.

Does California have laws regarding carrying a concealed firearm while using alcohol or chemical substances?

Not while consuming any alcoholic beverage or under the influence of any form of drug, even if it has been prescribed.

Does California issue concealed carry licenses to non-residents?

Yes, provided they’re active military stationed there or are employed in the state.

Does California allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?

Yes.

HANDGUN PURCHASE & POSSESSION IN CALIFORNIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in California?

Yes.

Are background checks required for private gun sales in California?

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm.

Does my current California concealed carry license exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase firearm? 

Yes, for Entertainment Firearms Licenses only.

Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in California?

Yes, 10 days.

Do handguns need to be registered in California?

Yes.

What is the minimum age to possess and transport a handgun in California?

The minimum age is 18.

Can I possess/carry a handgun in my home in California without a license? 

Yes, if not otherwise prohibited.

CALIFORNIA CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE INFORMATION

Concealed Carry Requirements to Register for a License in California

An applicant must:

  • Be of good moral character
  • Have good cause for the license
  • Be a resident of the county or work in the county
  • Have completed an approved firearms training class (minimum of 8 hours) or provide proof of exemption pursuant to California Penal Code section 31700
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or certain types of misdemeanors, including a lifetime prohibition if convicted of domestic violence
  • Not be subject to a temporary restraining order or have been the subject of a protective order
  • Not be addicted to drugs
  • Not have been diagnosed as mentally ill
  • Not have been hospitalized more than once in a year for a mental health diagnosis (lifetime prohibition)

Fees:

Contact your issuing authority as fees are variable (typically at least $70).

 

Valid For:

2 years.

Processing Time:

Within 90 days of completion of your background check. Please note that the timing of the background check approval varies greatly.

 

Applications:

Download and complete the DOJ Statewide Standard CCWL application.

Non-Resident Concealed Carry License:

Contact your issuing authority for their consideration. CCWLs may be issued to individuals who work in the state and/or active duty military members permanently stationed in California.

Name & Address Changes:

CCWL licenses may be amended:

  • To add or delete a particular firearm (some counties limit how many firearms can be listed per CCWL);
  • For a change to any restrictions or conditions on the license, including restrictions as to the time, place, manner and circumstances under which the person may carry a firearm capable of being concealed upon the person;
  • For a change of address. License holders must notify the Sheriff’s CCWL Unit in writing within 10 days of any change in the license holder’s place of residence.

License holders must notify the Sheriff’s CCWL Unit in writing within 10 days of any change in the license holder’s place of residence. A license will expire 90 days after the license holder moves from the county where the license was originally issued if the license holder’s place of residence was the basis for issuance of the license.

Contact the Sheriff’s CCWL Unit to arrange an appointment. You must bring a completed DOJ Carry Concealed Weapon License Amendment form.

Lost or Stolen Licenses:

Contact your local county sheriff’s office or police station.

Residency Changes:

Moving to California and interested in applying for a resident license? How soon can you apply?
California issues carry licenses to residents, individuals who work in the state and active duty military members permanently stationed in California. You can apply for your license with your county sheriff or local police chief once you have established your residence, business or principal place of employment in that county or city.

Moving from California and have a California resident license? Does that license transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your California license remains valid?
If a person with a California concealed carry weapon license establishes residency in another state, the license expires upon the establishment of the residence in the other state.

Moving from one county in California to another county?
Per Pen. Code 26210,  you must notify the licensing authority in writing within 10 days of any change in your place of residence. Your CCWL may not be revoked solely because your place of residence has changed to another county provided you haven’t breached any of the conditions or restrictions set forth in the license and you haven’t become prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm.

  • If your place of residence was the basis for issuance of a license, any license issued pursuant to Section 26150 or 26155 expires 90 days after you moves from the county of issuance.
  • If the license is one to carry loaded and exposed a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, the license shall be revoked immediately upon a change of the licensee’s place of residence to another county.

CALIFORNIA CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE APPLICATION PROCESS

OVERVIEW

Unlike most states that have a uniform statewide application process, the process in California is determined by each county and/or city issuing authority. So you will need to contact your County Sheriff or Chief of Police to verify their application process.

The process may require completion of a portion of the application so that a background check is completed and an approval is received before you attend a training course. Your Sheriff or Police Department will also provide information on approved training courses/providers. In addition, some issuing authorities have an online portal while others may not.

IN-PERSON

Step One:

Complete an approved training course. Depending on the issuing agency this step may be done at time of submitting the application or after step 6.

Step Two:

Some jurisdictions may require psychological testing.

Step Three:

Use the online licensing portal to submit your application or download the application and follow the instructions of your licensing authority regarding which sections to complete.

Step Four:

Either upload the required documentation in the online portal or provide it along with your application to your Sheriff or Police Department. You may also need some or all of the following:

  • Your training certificate
  • Proof of residency in your county or city
  • Original birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or valid US Passport
  • California driver’s license or California Identification card
  • Detailed good cause statement and supporting documentation.

You may be interviewed.

All listed firearms may be inspected to ensure they are in a safe, legal, and operable condition. Follow the procedure of your issuing authority. Do not bring any firearms to their office unless they instruct you to do so.

License fees vary.

You will be required to provide Livescan/fingerprints at your issuing authorities office or be approved to conduct Livescan/Fingerprints at a DOJ authorized location

Step Five:

Upon completion of your background check, you will be notified within 90 days whether your application has been approved or denied. Please note that the timing of the background check approval varies greatly.

CALIFORNIA CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE RENEWAL PROCESS

Step One:

The renewal form is online. Certain sections must be completed in the presence of a member of the licensing agency. Renewal applicants may also be subject to a psychological test if the issuer deems it necessary.

Step Two:

Complete your 4-Hour CCWL Renewal Class.

Step Three:

Use the online licensing portal to submit your application or download the application and follow the renewal process according to your issuing authority.

Step Four:

You will be notified if your application has been approved or declined.

Concealed Carry for Law Enforcement Officers and Retired LEOs

The federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) allows active and retired law enforcement officers (LEOs and RLEOs) to CC anywhere in the U.S. with restrictions such as not superseding state laws. Active LEOs and RLEOs are generally exempt from carry laws when possessing proper ID and when meeting LEOSA requirements.

Active and honorably retired LEOs are exempt from firearm carry laws under California Penal Code 25450. Penal Code 26300 clarifies these conditions, stating that any RLEO who retired after January 1, 1981, should have an endorsement on the ID certificate stating that the issuing agency approves them for loaded CC. Penal Code 25900 states that any full-time paid peace officer from out of state or the federal government may carry a loaded firearm when performing official duties in California.

Due to the powers of local police and sheriffs, it’s advisable for LEOs and RLEOs to contact the relevant law enforcement office for further clarification on how LEOSA affects them.

Firearms Training & Competency

Firearms training is required for California concealed carry. There are many ways to achieve valid qualifications in the state, including classes on California gun laws, firearm safety, and live range training. The more training you have, the more confident and skilled you’ll be.

The certified instructors at Concealed Coalition will teach you the applicable laws for your state and how to carry and fire a firearm safely. Training is available across the U.S. and online, so contact us to sign up or ask any questions.

NRA Training

The NRA offers training at numerous locations. Use the local training locator to find specific lessons, including firearms safety and live range shooting (two requirements for a CCWL).

Hunter Safety Courses

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife offers hunter education classes teaching firearm safety. Successful certification consists of either 10 hours of in-classroom work or an online portion combined with four hours of classroom attendance.

Firearms Safety Courses From Other Providers

Public and private institutions, individuals, colleges, or law enforcement agencies often provide firearms training. Consult with local law enforcement if in doubt about an instructor’s qualifications.

A Firearms Training Course With a State-Certified Instructor

Concealed Coalition offers firearm training to help you gain a CCW license. Our highly trained instructors provide actionable lessons based on their extensive practical experience to ensure you gain tested and reliable skills.

DD Form 214 or Military Orders for Active or Former Military Members

The military issues document DD 214 when a service member performs active duty or has completed at least 90 consecutive days of active-duty training. Your DD 214 may be a required submission document or proof of firearms competency, depending on your county of residence.

Get Certified for a California Concealed Carry Permit Today

Our network of firearms professionals are holding training classes and in-person certification courses throughout California. Use our certification locator to enroll in an upcoming firearms training course near you today, or visit our California concealed carry permitting resource for online certification.

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