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Concealed Carry Without Permit: Know the Penalties by State

Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a serious offense that can lead to significant penalties. The severity of the penalties depends on various factors, including the specifics of the case and the individual’s prior criminal record.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

It is Illegal to Carry a Gun Outside Your Home Without a Permit

California Penal Code sections 25850 PC and 26350 make it illegal to openly carry firearms outside of your home or business, regardless of whether they are loaded or unloaded. The only legal way to carry a weapon outside of your property is by obtaining a concealed firearm permit under California Penal Code section 26150 PC.

The crime of carrying a concealed firearm without a license is a more serious offense, governed by California Penal Code 25400 PC. Specifically, the statute prohibits carrying a firearm concealed on your person, within your car, or a car in which you are the passenger. The legal definition of firearm covers pistols, revolvers, and any other weapon operating on combustion that is capable of being concealed.

Steps to Get a California Concealed Permit

1. Contact Local Authorities

CONTACT your county sheriff’s or local police chief’s office to verify the application process and the approved training courses.

2. Complete Required Training
Enroll in an approved training course, or provide proof of exemption if you are on active duty or honorably retired military or law enforcement, as specified by California Penal Code Section 31700.

3. Verify Psychological Evaluation Requirements
Check with your local sheriff’s office to see if a psychological evaluation is required in your jurisdiction.

4. Submit Your Application
Use the online licensing portal or mail to submit your application and necessary documents.

5. In-Person Visit
Do not bring any firearms unless specifically instructed by the county sheriff’s office. During your visit, you will need to provide:

  • Your training certificate
  • Proof of residency
  • Original birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or valid U.S. passport
  • California driver’s license or California Identification card
  • You will also be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed.

6. Await Notification
Expect to receive a notification by mail within 90 days indicating whether your application has been approved or denied.

What is the Penalty for Carrying a Gun Without a Permit?

In most states, carrying a concealed weapon without a valid permit is considered a misdemeanor offense. This typically includes concealed items such as handguns, knives, tasers, or other firearms.

A conviction for this misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail, a fine, or both. In some instances, the court may offer probation as an alternative to jail time. However, the offense can be elevated to a felony under certain circumstances.

For instance, in California, carrying a concealed firearm is charged as a felony if the individual is a felon, knowingly possesses a stolen firearm, participates in criminal gangs, or violates specific firearm laws. A felony conviction could lead to up to three years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

What is the New Concealed Carry Law in California

According to the State of California Department of Justice, anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon in public must obtain a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) license [1]. This license can be issued by a county sheriff, a police chief, or the head of a municipal police department within any county or city (Pen. Code, §§ 26150, 26155, 26170). The Department of Justice is responsible for developing a standardized CCW license that serves as proof of licensure statewide (§ 26175, subd. (a)(3)).

The Legislature deemed the Department’s regulations necessary to address an emergency because of the public’s safety interests in preventing persons who are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm from obtaining CCW licenses. (§ 26225, subd. (d).) – State of California Department of Justice

In June 2022, the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022) 597 U.S. 1 declared that licensing schemes requiring applicants to demonstrate “proper cause” to carry firearms are unconstitutional. This ruling necessitated changes to California’s concealed carry laws.

Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) was enacted to update the information required on the uniform CCW license (§ 26175, subds. (a)(3) & (i)). The new regulations establish a uniform license that meets the updated statutory requirements (§ 26175, subd. (a)(3)) and corrects an error in section 4432.

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