Carrying a Concealed Weapon in California

The definition of a concealed weapon is straightforward. If you’re carrying something that’s traditionally considered a weapon in a manner so that it’s not readily available, you’re carrying a concealed weapon. In most cases, the weapon is a firearm or a knife. What you may not know is that if you’re in California, having a concealed weapon is illegal.

California’s lawmakers wanted there to be no mistake about what was and wasn’t considered carrying a concealed weapon. They used Penal Code 25400 PC to clearly outline the types of actions that constituted carrying a concealed weapon in California.

The law reads that, “a person is guilty of carrying a concealed firearm when the person does any of the following:

• Carries concealed within any vehicle that is under the person’s control or direction any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
• Carries concealed upon the person any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
• Causes to be carried concealed within any vehicle in which the person is an occupant any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.”

If you don’t think it’s fair that you can’t carry a concealed weapon in California even though other states allow you to you’re not alone. The issue was addressed in the Peruta vs. County of San Diego case which went before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Many were surprised when the Court decided that it was constitutional for California’s lawmakers to forbid the carrying of concealed weapons.

Carrying a concealed weapon in California is a wobbler offense meaning it can be handled as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Penal Code 25400 PC is written in a manner that helps clarify when felony charges will be pursued.

“Carrying a concealed firearm in violation of this section is punishable as follows:

• If the person previously has been convicted of any felony, or of any crime made punishable by a provision listed in Section 16580, as a felony.      
• If the firearm is stolen and the person knew or had reasonable cause to believe that it was stolen, as a felony.
• If the person is an active participant in a criminal street gang, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 186.22, under the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 186.20) of Title 7 of Part 1), as a felony.
• If the person is not in lawful possession of the firearm or the person is within a class of persons prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 29800) or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 29900) of Division 9 of this title, or Section 8100 or 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as a felony.”

If you’re convicted of felony carrying a concealed weapon charges in California, you face a maximum sentence of three years in prison (additional years could be added if you’re also convicted of additional charges). If you’re only convicted of a misdemeanor the maximum sentence is a year in a county jail.