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Carrying an unloaded firearm in public is permitted in California only if you have a permit to carry it under Penal Code 26150 or 26155.
You may legally carry an unloaded handgun in a car provided it is in a locked container or in the trunk – assuming it is for a lawful purpose.
You may transport an unloaded firearm if it is too large to be concealed on your person. This would include a shotgun or long rifle.
Before 2012 it was legal for an individual to openly carry an unloaded handgun in a public area.
As long as the gun was in plain sight and not in an area previously prohibiting a gun, the ‘open carry’ gun law applied.
The ‘open carry’ right to bear arms in California was repealed on January 1, 2012. The bill, number 144, became effective as Penal Code 26350 upon that date.
At this time, open carry of both unloaded and loaded handguns is now prohibited.
Today, carrying an unloaded handgun in a public area is a misdemeanor. The punishments for the misdemeanor are:
1. A fine of up to $1000
2. Up to one year’s confinement in county jail.
California gun laws may seem very strict. However, there are some legal defenses for exceptions if you are charged with carrying an unloaded handgun in public. These exceptions include:
1. Possession of a valid California firearm permit.
2. Engaging in an activity exempting you from Penal Code 2350
3. The gun was not carried in a public place.
4. The gun was too large for concealment.
5. The search and seizure finding the gun was proven to be illegal.
6. The police engaged in misconduct during the arrest.
7. The police performed an illegal traffic stop and the gun was discovered.
California’s gun laws, by definition, use circular terms. If a gun is designated ‘open carry’ then it is not ‘concealed’. Courts have held that as long as a gun is even partially concealed, such as by a shirt or belt, a person can be liable for carrying a concealed firearm, even if the gun is identifiable to others. This action will result in a misdemeanor charge.
Under some circumstances, the charge may evolve into that of a felony. A felony charge may apply if the weapon is stolen or if you have been previously convicted of a felony or firearm offense. Previous conviction of a felony may include committing a violent offense or being a member of a criminal street gang.
There are many terms difficult to prove or understand pertaining to California gun laws. For instance, when you removed your gun from the trunk of your car in your friend’s driveway to show him your new purchase, you could technically be arrested for illegally carrying a handgun in public, because the driveway has access to a public street.
If you removed the gun from the trunk of a car at a home with an electronic gate, it is legal because you technically had no access to a public area.
This and other technicalities make it imperative that you consult a Los Angeles criminal attorney for advice if you are arrested for illegally carrying a gun in California. A Los Angeles criminal attorney can prepare a defense for you with clear understanding of California gun laws.