California Gun Laws 2023 – The Most Common 14 Questions Answered

In California, owning a firearm is a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, the state also has strict gun laws in place to ensure public safety. It’s important to understand California gun laws if you own or plan to own a firearm.

1. Who can buy a gun in California?

In California, you must be at least 21 years old to buy a handgun and at least 18 years old to buy a shotgun or rifle. Additionally, you must pass a background check with a licensed dealer called the Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) even for private or gun show purchases. This background check includes information about your criminal history, mental health, and other factors that could disqualify you from owning a firearm.

2. Who is prohibited from owning a firearm in California?

In California, certain individuals are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, including convicted felons and narcotic addicts. Also, people who have been convicted of certain crimes, such as domestic violence or assault, or who have been diagnosed with certain mental illnesses are also prohibited from owning a firearm.

3. Is it legal to carry a concealed weapon in California?

Under California law, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon, including a firearm, without a valid permit. In order to obtain a concealed carry permit, you must meet certain criteria, including demonstrating a need for self-defense. Even with a valid permit, certain locations, such as schools and government buildings, remain off-limits for concealed carry.

4. Can I openly carry a gun in California?

California law generally prohibits the open carry of both unloaded weapons (Penal Code 26350) and loaded weapons (Penal Code 25850).

5. What types of firearms are illegal in California?

California law bans certain types of firearms, including short-barreled shotguns and rifles (Penal Code 33215), undetectable firearms (Penal Code 24610), and zip guns (Penal Code 33600). Assault weapons and BMG rifles are also banned per Penal Code 30600. It is illegal to manufacture, distribute, transport, import, sell, or give away these weapons. Additionally, it is a crime to possess these weapons per Penal Code 30605.

6. Can I bring my gun to certain places in California?

No. There are six places in California where you cannot bring a firearm. These are:

  • Schools, per Penal Code 626.9 PC
  • Public buildings and meetings open to the public, per Penal Code 171b PC
  • Government buildings, per Penal Code 171c PC
  • The Governor’s mansion, per Penal Code 171d PC
  • Airports and passenger vessel terminals, per Penal Code 171.5 PC
  • Public transit facilities, per Penal Code 171.7 PC

7. What other items related to firearms are regulated by California law?

California law regulates the use and ownership of several items related to firearms, including armor-piercing bullets (Penal Code 30315), silencers (Penal Code 33410), stun guns (Penal Code 22610), and laser scopes and pointers (Penal Code 417.25).

8. Will a criminal conviction affect my right to own a firearm?

Yes, certain criminal convictions will result in the loss of your right to own, purchase, and possess a gun. If you lose your gun rights due to a criminal conviction, you may try to restore them by getting a wobbler felony reduced to a misdemeanor or receiving a pardon from California’s Governor.

9. Can I carry a gun in my car in California?

California has strict rules when it comes to transporting guns in your car. If you are traveling with a firearm, it must be unloaded and stored in a locked container or in the trunk of your car. If you are carrying a handgun, it must be in a locked container that is not in the glove compartment or console. Additionally, you must also have a valid transportation permit for handguns.

10. Can I carry a concealed weapon in California?

Carrying a concealed weapon in California is generally illegal without a concealed carry permit. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as carrying a firearm while hunting or while engaged in certain activities related to the manufacture, repair, or testing of firearms.

11. What types of firearms are banned in California?

California has banned certain types of firearms, including assault weapons, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, undetectable firearms, and zip guns. Possessing, making, or selling these types of firearms is illegal under Penal Code 16590. Additionally, Penal Code 30600 makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute, transport, import, sell, or give away assault weapons and BMG rifles.

12. What are the penalties for violating California’s gun laws?

The penalties for violating California’s gun laws vary depending on the specific offense. Possessing a firearm without a valid permit can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the circumstances. Carrying a loaded firearm in public without a permit is also a misdemeanor offense, while carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is generally a felony offense.

13. How can I restore my gun rights in California?

If you have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor offenses, you may lose your right to own, purchase, and possess a gun in California. However, in some cases, you may be able to have your gun rights restored. This may involve getting a wobbler felony reduced to a misdemeanor or receiving a pardon from the Governor.

14. What should I do if I am facing gun charges in California?

If you are facing gun charges in California, it is important to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and the potential consequences of a conviction. They can also help you build a strong defense and negotiate with prosecutors to try to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

In conclusion, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and it is important to be aware of these laws if you own or plan to own a firearm. Violating California’s gun laws can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, jail time, and the loss of your gun rights. If you have any questions or concerns about California’s gun laws, or if you are facing gun charges, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and interests.

At Criminal Defense Heroes, P.C., our attorneys have years of experience defending the gun rights of Californians. We understand the nuances of the law and the best strategies for maintaining Second Amendment rights. Contact us today at 323-529-3660 for a free consultation.


  • California Penal Code § 25400, § 25850, § 26500, § 30315, § 30600, § 33215, § 417.25, § 626.9, § 171b, § 171c, § 171d, § 171.5, § 171.7, § 22610, § 24610, § 33410, § 16590, § 30605
  • “California Gun Laws”, Don Hammond Law,