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Traveling State Spotlight: California

The following is a video transcript.

Hello, my name is Virginia Landry and I am an Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of California. Whether you are a resident or traveling here for fun, family, or adventure, I want you to be safe both in and out of your home.

Strict Gun Laws

First of all, California is not a very Second Amendment friendly state. We have some of the strictest laws across the nation. California does not have reciprocity with any other state’s concealed carry weapons permits. While grabbing your firearm back home might be second nature before you walk out the front door of your house, doing this while visiting California will get you in trouble. Unfortunately, you are not afforded the same Second Amendment opportunities while visiting California.

Application Process

Second, if you are a resident of our large and diverse state, please understand that our statutes allow the Sheriff’s Department of the county in which you reside (or the Chief of Police in the city in which you reside if the county is not provided a Sheriff’s Department policy), to devise a Concealed Carry Weapon permit application process of their own.

Before he left office, Governor Jerry Brown approved Assembly Bill 2103, which made changes to Penal Code Section 26165, effective January 1, 2019. As a result, each county has its own regulations, but now all generally have an application process which includes paperwork and documentation, a Live Scan form, and CCW courses of training for new applicants, which can be not less than eight hours, but are not required to exceed 16 hours in length.

Non-Resident Carry

So, if you are traveling to California, what do you need to be aware of? California generally forbids non-residents from carrying a firearm outside their domicile. California does, however, allow you to transport a firearm between domiciles and to the range for target practice. Simply explained, a domicile is the place that you are staying, whether it’s at a family member or friend’s house, a hotel, a bed and breakfast, or a motel. When not traveling or driving on the roads of California, an RV can also be your domicile.

Transporting Firearms

When transporting between those approved places, you must place your handgun in a locked container. A locked container is not a console or a glove box. All firearms must be unloaded while transporting—no bullets in the chamber and no bullets in the magazine. The unloaded magazine can be locked in the same container as the handgun. The bullets must be separate from the firearm. If traveling with a shotgun or rifle, it is not necessary to have it in a locked container, but it must be unloaded. Many different types of firearms are classified as “assault weapons” in California. No form of assault rifle or weapon is allowed in California. You may not bring a magazine for any gun with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition, except for law enforcement officers.

Castle Doctrine in California

California has what is called the “Castle Doctrine.” A man or woman is safe in their castle and can protect themselves and their family while in that castle. The home of your family or friends whom you are staying with, in the hotel where you’re staying—these are your castle during your trip. While in your domicile, you may carry or possess a loaded firearm.

When visiting California and staying in that domicile, please do not leave your loaded firearm in plain view of open curtains, as someone may easily report you to law enforcement. When leaving your domicile for a day of sightseeing, secure your firearm back in its locked container. You may not lawfully take it with you.

Prohibited Places

When transporting a firearm in California, please be aware you cannot bring your firearm into a restaurant when you stop to eat. When transporting a firearm in California, do not drive within one thousand feet of a school zone. Take a few left turns around the school zone until you can get safely back onto your route. There are enhanced penalties for having a firearm in a school zone.

Disclosing Your Handgun License

What should you do if you have a concealed carry weapon permit or license from another state? Many states like California have separate identification cards that must be carried at all times when concealed carrying a firearm. Many states are much farther ahead with technological capabilities and have the concealed carry information imprinted on driver’s licenses. If you are a license holder from another state and law enforcement casually says “Hello” (for instance, if you are being screened before going into a sporting event), you are not required to disclose your license.

California is a beautiful state with a lot to offer our visitors. However, it is not a gun-friendly state. Be aware of ordinances enacted that may be particular to the area you are visiting.

If you have any questions about traveling to California with your firearm, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

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