The right to own and carry guns, firearms and weapons (keep and bear arms) is clearly guaranteed by the United States Constitution. However, there are laws that regulate when and how we can use those firearms. California law covering weapons is complex and one can easily be confused on what is legal and what is not.
There is a huge list of guns, firearms and weaponry that are illegal in California. Some of these items are only illegal if you first owned them after a certain date, and others are grandfathered in. Some items are illegal if they are on your person, and some are illegal anywhere.
California gun laws allow almost anyone to buy a firearm without a license. The only people generally prohibited from acquiring or possessing a gun are:
- felons (that is, anyone convicted of any felony offense in any jurisdiction),
- persons convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses,
- persons who are addicted to narcotics,
- persons who suffer from mental illness, and
- minors (that is, anyone under 18).
As long as you don’t fall into one of these categories, there are several ways that you can legally exercise your Second Amendment right to bear arms
California’s gun laws generally allow you to carry an unloaded, unlicensed firearm in public, so long as the weapon is in plain sight and as long as you are not in a prohibited area. “Prohibited areas” include government buildings, post offices, and school zones. (California’s Gun Free School Zone Act). The fact is that many citizen, including many law enforcement officers, either aren’t well versed in these laws or are unaware of their existence. Unfortunately, this often results in a large number of cases where people who are lawfully carrying their firearms in accordance with their Second Amendment rights are wrongfully, harassed, arrested, and sometimes even prosecuted.