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What You Need to Know About Owning and Possessing Firearms in California

There has been a lot of news lately regarding the ownership and possession of firearms in the United States.  The US Supreme Court has been addressing the issues of when you can and cannot carry firearms and what kind of guns you may legally own.  Despite what many people believe, you have a constitutional right to own a firearm – even in California.  As of 2021, according to the California Department of Justice, there is an estimated 19.8 million legally owned firearms in California. This does not include non-registered guns.

However, it is important to note that there are pretty strict rules regarding the transportation and possession of firearms in California.  Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle v Bruen that New York States requirement for a CCW[1], based on a demonstrated need, was unconstitutional. The case dealt with the constitutionality of a New York law that restricted the right to carry a concealed handgun in public. The Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms. As a result of this ruling, California became a “shall issue” state,[2] meaning that if you meet the criteria (age, no felonies on your record, etc.,) sheriff can not deny your request for a CCW– even if you don’t have a particular reason to want to carry a gun, beyond general self-defense. 

You can own and possess a loaded firearm in your home.  Unless you have a CCW under current California Law, it is illegal to carry, in public, a loaded firearm on your person or in your vehicle.

Without a CCW, in order to take the gun anywhere – including the shooting range, all firearms must be transported in an unloaded condition.  The gun must be in a locked container, such as a hard-sided case, and placed in the trunk of a vehicle or in a location that is not readily accessible from the passenger compartment. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the locked container must be placed in the rear of the vehicle and not readily accessible to the driver or passengers. While this seems a little silly, the ammo must be in a separate container.  Because the laws regarding guns change regularly, it is important to familiarize yourself with California’s firearm transportation laws before transporting.

In California it is illegal to possess or sell magazines or ammunition feeding devices that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. There are some exceptions for law enforcement officers and certain types of firearms, but in general, possessing a magazine or clip with over 9 bullets is illegal in California.

If you are eligible for a CCW and you own a gun, consider getting one.  Carrying a loaded firearm on your person or in a car without a CCW is a felony.  While you will need to participate in firearm training, this kind of education is always worthwhile when you own guns.  And you may avoid criminal charges if you are carrying a gun.

[1] CCW stands for “Concealed Carry Weapon,” which refers to the practice of carrying a firearm in a concealed manner on one’s person or in a vehicle. The laws and regulations surrounding CCW permits vary by state and country, so it is important to research and understand the specific laws in your area before carrying a concealed weapon. Additionally, proper training and education on firearm safety and handling is crucial for anyone considering carrying a concealed weapon.

[2] See for more information on how to obtain a CCW in California.

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