Knowing what California law does and doesn’t permit you to do with your firearms is tricky. On one hand, in 2018, the Ninth Circuit handled the case and decided that the Second Amendment does allow open carry. On the other hand, California has created so many restrictions that they’ve virtually made open carry impossible.
There are some ways you can carry your favorite firearm and not officially break the law. Those exceptions include:
• The type of gun you’re carrying
• Local county and city laws
• If the firearm you’re carrying is loaded
If you’re going to carry a firearm, it’s extremely important that you spend some time researching local laws. For example, in some California counties that have a population of less than 200,000, the local police have the authority to issue firearm licenses that allow the named person to open carry handguns. These licenses do not extend to long guns and are only valid in the county they were issued. As soon as you cross the county lines, your license becomes invalid.
With the exception of people who’ve been granted a license, carrying a loaded firearm in California is prohibited. If you’re caught carrying a loaded handgun, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor.
Carrying a loaded firearm in California is a violation of Penal Code 25850 PC.
In most cases, violating this law is a misdemeanor. If convicted, the maximum sentence will be up to a year in a county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
The interesting thing about carrying an open firearm in California is that while most cases are handled as a misdemeanor, the law is written in such a way that in some situations, the law can become a wobbler law, meaning the prosecutor can handle it as a misdemeanor or a felony.