Prohibition Against Openly Carrying a Handgun


Before 2012, anyone who was not prohibited from owning a firearm was allowed to keep and carry an unloaded gun in a public place. The “open carry” laws formerly allowed a person to keep a gun in plain sight, as long as the handgun was not brought into a prohibited area such as a school, post office or other government building. However, in 2012 the California legislature approved California Penal Code Section 26350 PC, which effectively made it illegal to carry both loaded and unloaded handguns in public.

Under California Penal Code Section 26350 PC, it is illegal to openly carry a handgun that is exposed and unloaded on one’s person or in a vehicle while in public. A handgun is defined as any pistol, revolver or any other firearm that can be easily concealed. This can include short-barreled shotguns or short-barreled rifles that have a barrel length less than 16 inches.

There are several exemptions to the prohibitions against carrying an unloaded handgun in public under California Penal Code Section 26350 PC. Any person who has a been granted a concealed carry permit (“CCW”) under California Penal Code Section 26150 PC or California Penal Code Section 26155 PC would be allowed to openly carry their firearm while in a public, non-prohibited place. In order to obtain a CCW permit, applicants must submit an application to their local law enforcement agency and would be required to show that they are of good moral character, that there is good cause to issue the CCW permits as the result of an immediate threat, that they meet certain residency requirements and that they have completed a firearms training course. In practice, many law enforcement agencies have been hesitant to grant CCW applications that are submitted. The Ninth District is currently hearing a challenge regarding whether California’s treatment of CCW applications complies with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution which protects the right to bear arms.

There are other parties that would be considered exempt from open carry restrictions. This would include peace officers, members of the military, licensed manufacturers and dealers of firearms, those who are at a shooting range, hunters, common carrier employees, gun repair shop or pawnshop employees, those attending gun shows and those who are acting in or rehearsing a play, movie or similar production.

In addition, this restriction only applies to handguns that are carried in public. If the defendant is found carrying a handgun on private property, he or she would not be guilty of this offense. This offense also only applies to firearms that are capable of being concealed on one’s person. This means that this law would not apply to most rifles, shotguns and other long-barreled firearms.

Publicly carrying an unloaded handgun is a misdemeanor level offense. Those who are convicted can be sentenced to either up to a year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine. If the defendant was also carrying ammunition and he or she was not the lawful owner of the handgun, both the fine and jail sentence can be imposed.

It is important to remember that while there are a number of legal exemptions to the prohibitions against the open carry of unloaded handguns, there are a number of other laws that limit an individual’s ability to carry a gun in public. Under California Penal Code Section 29800 PC, anyone who has been convicted of a felony, has been convicted of specific misdemeanors such as domestic assault or who are drug addicts are prohibited from possessing any firearm. This offense is a felony that can carry significant prison sentences. In addition, under California Penal Code Section 25400 PC, it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm in public. This offense is a misdemeanor for most defendants that is punishable by a sentence of up to a year in jail.

If you have been charged with violating the prohibitions against openly carrying an unloaded handgun, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively fight weapons allegations.

For more information about Los Angeles prohibitions against openly carrying a handgun, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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