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Open Carry in California
Everything You Need to Know

The state of California generally prohibits people from openly carrying loaded firearms in public, with a few notable exceptions.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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When Did Open Carry Become Illegal in California?

Since 1967, it has been illegal in California to openly carry a loaded firearm in public except when hunting or by law enforcement officials. However, beginning in Jan. 2012, public open carry of unloaded handguns also became illegal.

What is Penal Code 26350?

Penal Code 26350 is a California statute that prohibits a person from openly carrying an exposed and unloaded handgun in public or while riding in a vehicle. A violation of Penal Code 26350 is charged as a misdemeanor crime that is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail.

Exceptions to California's Open Carry Prohibition

People in California are prohibited from openly carrying firearms, except at:

  • One’s home/residence
  • Their place of business
  • On their private property
  • Assisting a peace officer
  • Hunting/Gun Clubs
  • Hunting exemption
  • Restraining order

What About Concealed Carry?

A concealed weapons permit, or CCW, is the only means by which private citizens may legally carry firearms in public in the state of California. Absent a CCW, it is a crime to carry either a loaded or an unloaded firearm in public, regardless of whether the gun is concealed or openly carried.

How Hard is it to Get a CCW in California?

California is one of the hardest states to acquire a CCW permit. Unlike New York, California CCWs are required to be renewed yearly and must have good causation as to why a person needs their permit renewed. California has enacted severe anti-gun laws to make many people avoid wanting guns or even applying for a CCW.

How Much Does a CCW Cost?

The total cost to obtain a CCW permit in California is anywhere from $200 to $300. This total cost may include a $44 state fee and a licensing authority fee of up to $120 (20% collected at the time of application and 80% collected once issued).

Can I Carry a Gun on BLM Land in California?

Licensed concealed carry is generally legal on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in California. Unlicensed concealed carry may be legal at certain campsites. Loaded and unloaded open carry are illegal in "prohibited areas," including the campground.

Which States Allow Permissive Open Carry?

Permissive open-carry states allow gun owners to legally possess a firearm and to openly carry a gun without a permit or license. States include Alaska, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Utah.

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