Penal Code 25400 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to carry a concealed weapon.
However, the statute will not apply if a person has a lawful concealed carry permit, or “CCW.” This means a party can legally carry a concealed weapon if he/she has obtained a CCW.
4.1. Penal Code 25400
PC 25400 makes it a criminal offense for a person to carry a concealed weapon.
A prosecutor must prove the following to convict a person under this statute:
- the accused concealed a firearm on his/her person or in a vehicle,
- the defendant knew about the presence of the concealed gun, and
- the firearm was substantially concealed.
As to the second element above, it is a legal defense to this crime if the accused did not know of the presence of a weapon. For example, a defendant is not guilty if he was in a friend’s car and did not know that there was a gun under his seat.
A violation of this law is charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by:
- custody in county jail for up to one year, and/or
- a maximum $1,000 fine.
A PC 25400 violation, though, can become a felony when:
- the defendant has a prior felony conviction or conviction for a California firearm offense,
- the firearm is stolen and the accused knew, or had reasonable cause to believe, that it was stolen,
- the accused was actively involved in a criminal street gang,
- the defendant unlawfully possessed the firearm,
- the defendant was prohibited from possessing a firearm under Penal Code 29800 PC, California’s felon with a firearm law, or
- the accused was prohibited from possessing a firearm under Penal Code 29900 PC for committing a violent offense.
As to number one above, note that a defendant will serve a minimum of three years in county jail if:
- he/she carried a concealed weapon, and
- has a prior firearm offense.
This includes prior convictions under:
- Penal Code 245a1 PC, assault with a deadly weapon,
- Penal Code 246 PC, shooting at an inhabited dwelling house or car, and
- Penal Code 417 PC, California’s brandishing a weapon law.
As to number six above, offenses deemed “violent” for purposes of this section include (but are not limited to):
Felony carrying a concealed firearm is punishable by:
- up to three years in county jail, and/or
- a maximum $10,000 fine.
4.2. Concealed carry permit
A concealed carry permit is the only means by which ordinary citizens may legally carry concealed firearms in public in California. Absent a CCW, it is a crime to carry either a loaded or an unloaded firearm in public.
A concealed carry permit is sometimes referred to as a “concealed weapons permit.”
The following are the only parties that may issue a CCW:
- a county sheriff, or
- the chief or other head of a municipal police department.
A person must prove the following in order to receive a CCW:
- he/she is of good moral character,
- good cause exists for issuance of the license because the person, or a family member, is in immediate danger,
- he/she meets certain residency requirements, and
- the person has completed an acceptable course on firearms training.
If someone receives a permit to carry a concealed firearm, he/she may legally carry a loaded, concealed gun. However, the person with the permit must comply with the terms and conditions outlined in the permit.
Note that there was some recent doubt about the constitutionality of California’s laws on CCW permits. In 2014, the court ruled that that the “good cause” requirement to obtain a CCW violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
But in June 2016, the court overturned this finding. The court ruled that in fact, the Second Amendment does not apply to concealed firearms, and thus there are no constitutional rights implicated by California’s “good cause” requirement.
Further, the United States Supreme Court (sitting in Washington, D.C.) refused to consider a challenge to California’s concealed carry law. So law-abiding gun owners can still carry a concealed handgun if they obtain a CCW.
M., D. (2022, March 27). California gun laws 2022 – your top 12 questions answered. Shouse Law Group. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/defense/gun-laws/