California Gun Laws (and How to Not Break Them)

A black and white photo of a hand in a gun shape with the California flag projected in color over the top

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the entire country. While they are in place to keep families safe, that comes with some caveats. For example, specific gun laws can be easy to break if you are unfamiliar with how they vary from state to state.

Do you know what is legally considered a gun in The Golden State? Are you absolutely certain you aren’t carrying one right now?

It’s crucial to brush up on California gun laws to avoid an unnecessary arrest. That’s why we’ve created this brief, accessible guide to California gun laws in 2023. Continue reading to find answers to your most critical questions about owning and carrying firearms in CA.

Why Is California So Strict With Gun Laws?

The liberal state of California considers itself a leader in gun safety. California politicians have sought to pave the way for national gun reform. As a result, California gun control bills tend to be aggressive.

This has only been the case for the past several years, in direct response to the rise in mass shootings. Their goal is not to take away freedom but to protect children and families in The Golden State. So far, statistics suggest they are working.

Is a Disassembled Gun Considered a Firearm in California?

Many people wonder if a disassembled gun is technically classified as a “firearm” under California law. For example, if you get pulled over with a disassembled gun in the car, must you disclose this to an officer?

This depends on which components of the gun are present. The “firearm” of the gun is the component known as the receiver. This usually has the gun’s serial number and the name of the gun manufacturer. If that component is present, you are carrying a firearm, whether or not you assemble the gun.

How Do You Get a Gun License in California?

A brown and white 'No Shooting' sign along a desert highway in California

First, we advise you to request a California Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC). This will reveal whether the details of your record prevent you from owning a gun in California. Also, consider undergoing a Federal NICS check, which is a separate process.

You can obtain a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) license from the local sheriff’s office or police department. You will need to fill out an application. It will then go through an approval process. 

Can I Legally Carry a Gun in California Now? What About an AR15?

Per gun laws in California in 2023, you can legally carry a handgun or personal firearm in some situations. It is legal to carry a gun in your private residence or on any private property you own. You may also carry a firearm at your place of business.

Concealed Carry in California is a little different. You may only carry a concealed weapon elsewhere if you possess a clean record and a CCW license from the state of California.

Assault weapons, such as AR15s, are an exception. You may not possess an assault weapon in California as defined by state law. You may be grandfathered in if you lawfully owned the assault weapon before the law was in place. You must have registered the weapon with the DOJ.

Broke a California Gun Law? We Can Help.

California gun laws can be complex and confusing. If you have made a mistake leading to an arrest, we want to help. Our goal is to give people a second chance when they find themselves in jail for a gun-related offense.

You have a right to bail per the 8th Amendment. Our hope is to make posting bail as stress-free and affordable as possible. We’ll help you determine a reasonable payment plan that helps you get back to your family and your life.

Do you have questions about gun laws or posting bail? Call the experts at Bail Hotline, and we’ll help. We’re ready and waiting to help you or a loved one anywhere in CA.

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