Despite California's strict gun laws, the state does allow certain eligible residents to obtain a permit for a concealed carry weapon (CCW). That said, applicants for CCW permits must meet stringent eligibility standards detailed in Penal Code 26150 PC and Penal Code 26155 PC.
Simply put, PC 26150 PC lays out the eligibility requirements to get a license to carry a concealed handgun or carry a loaded and exposed handgun. The county sheriff could issue the permit.
The applicant has to be found to have good moral character, have good cause to get the license, complete a firearms training course, and be a county resident or spend substantial there.
PC 26150 says, “(a) When a person applies for a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, the sheriff of a county may issue a license to that person upon proof of all of the following:
(1) The applicant is of good moral character. (2) Good cause exists for the issuance of the license. (3) The applicant is a resident of the county, their principal place of employment or business where they spend a substantial period of time….
(4) The applicant has completed a training course described in Section 26165.
(b) The sheriff may issue a license under subdivision (a) in either of the following formats: (1) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(2) Where the county's population is less than 200,000 persons according to the most recent federal census, a license to carry is loaded and exposed in only that county a pistol or revolver capable of being concealed upon the person.”
What Does a CCW Do?
A CCW permit allows the license holder to carry a concealed handgun—that is, "a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person."
In California, anyone who legally owns a firearm but does not have a CCW may only transport their guns in public within a locked box or container within their vehicle, which must also be locked.
What's the Difference Between PC 26150 and PC 26155?
For all intents and purposes, PC 26150 and PC 26155 establish the same conditions for CCW eligibility, but they apply to different jurisdictional settings. CCW applications are handled, and permits are issued by local law enforcement in your jurisdiction or the head of a municipal police department.
PC 26150 authorizes county sheriffs to issue CCW permits; PC 26155, on the other hand, gives that authority to police chiefs in incorporated cities.
If you live in an unincorporated area, you'll apply for your CCW at your county sheriff's office. If you live in an incorporated city with a police department, you can apply at your local police or the county sheriff's office.
Suppose you have a valid license to carry a concealed firearm. In that case, it would prevent you from being convicted of violating the following laws:
- Penal Code 25400 PC - carrying a concealed firearm;
- Penal Code 25850 PC - carrying a loaded firearm in public,
- Penal Code 26350 PC - openly carrying an unloaded firearm in public.
However, if you can obtain a California CCW permit, remember that it only typically applies to pistols and revolvers. Thus, the permit to carry a concealed gun does not exclude you from being charged under other statutes, such as the following:
- Penal Code 30600 PC – carrying assault weapons;
- Penal Code 16590 PC – carrying prohibited weapons;
- Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a CCW?
Under both PC 26150 and 26155, to receive a CCW permit, you must meet the following eligibility requirements.
Pass a Background Check and Be of Good Moral Character
Demonstrating good moral character is a critical component of CCW eligibility. Since this is an ambiguous term, when you apply for your CCW, your local sheriff or chief of police will determine by evaluating factors such as your past conduct and ethical stance.
Essentially, this measures your reliability and the likelihood of handling a concealed weapon responsibly.
Also, law enforcement agencies meticulously investigate any potential criminal history to ensure that only CCW permits are given to law-abiding citizens.
If you own a gun legally, you likely have passed an extensive criminal background check. If you don't own a gun yet, you must pass a background check before issuing the CCW.
Establish Residency or Employment in the City or County
You can only be issued a CCW permit in the city or county where you live or are employed.
You will need to show proof of your residence within the county or city from which you are seeking the permit, or you will need to provide proof of employment in that city/county and show that you spend a substantial amount of time at your place of employment.
Either one will establish a legitimate link to the jurisdiction so you can be issued a permit.
Complete an Approved Firearms Training Course
Last, you must complete a firearms training course and provide a certificate of completion to local law enforcement. This step ensures that CCW permit holders are well-versed in safely handling and operating their concealed handguns.
Under Assembly Bill 2103, the training course must be at least 8 hours and include live-fire shooting exercises where you demonstrate an ability to handle and shoot the gun safely.
No More "Good Cause" Requirement?
PC 26150 and 26155 also include a fourth requirement: showing that "good cause exists for issuance of the license." In most locales, this requirement meant demonstrating a clear and present danger to one's life, family, or property and a need for self-protection.
However, in 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen rendered this part of the law unconstitutional. So there is no more "good cause" requirement for issuing a CCW in California.
What Is a "Loaded and Exposed" Gun Permit?
In counties with a population under 200,000 residents, PC 26150 and PC 26155 permit law enforcement to issue licenses to carry a loaded and exposed firearm.
The eligibility requirements are effectively the same as those for a CCW permit. The only stipulation is that loaded and exposed weapons may only be carried within the county where the permit was issued. California has no "open-carry" permit.
Who Is Considered Ineligible for a CCW Permit?
It's worth noting that the state gives local police chiefs and sheriffs broad discretion and authority to issue or deny CCW permits, so even if you are technically eligible, your application could be denied.
However, anyone in California who cannot own or possess a firearm will also be automatically ineligible for a CCW permit. These include:
- Those convicted of any felony and some misdemeanors;
- Those convicted of any domestic violence offense;
- Anyone under age 18;
- Anyone who is addicted to narcotics; and
- Anyone known to suffer from a disqualifying mental illness.
What is the Application Process?
There are generally separate phases in the application process for obtaining a firearm permit in California.
The first step is the uniform application required by all county sheriffs or the head of your local municipal police department. The initial application or renewal fees typically range between $100 and $200.
Next is the interview process, where you will be asked why you need the permit, the possible consequences of carrying a firearm publicly, and a review of your criminal history. They will also take your fingerprints.
Finally, some counties might require you to undergo psychological testing, but the fee you pay can't be over $150.
Contact us to review the details and legal options if you have been charged with a gun-related crime. We are located in Los Angeles, CA.
Eisner Gorin LLP does not handle matters related to obtaining a CCW permit or restoring gun rights.