What is a California CCW?

A license to carry a concealed firearm on your person in public is subject to restrictions placed upon it by statute and the issuing department. The law allows a person to keep a firearm in their home and at their place of business without a permit. No CCW is required to keep a firearm in the home or place of employment if it is your business.

What are the requirements for a California CCW?

  1. Legal resident
  2. At least 21 years of age
  3. Good cause
  4. Good moral character

What is Good Cause?
You must articulate a situation or circumstance whereby the department can determine you have a need, not a desire, to carry a concealed firearm.

The (1977) Attorney General's Opinion on Good Causes
OPINION NO. CR. 77/30 I.L. 'the issuing authority must determine whether the threat to the applicant (or other casual situation) is as real as the applicant asserts (e.g., is there a clear and present danger to the applicant, his spouse, his family or his employees?) Finally, if the danger is manifest, the authority should determine whether that danger cannot be significantly alleviated by alternative means of security and whether in fact can be lawfully mitigated by the applicant's obtaining a concealed weapon license.'

This decision was rendered by Attorney General Evelle J. Younger, August 23, 1977.

How easy is it to get a California Concealed Weapon Permit?
This varies from county to county and from city to city. Rural counties are normally easier than suburban counties. Good Cause is the variable that applicants must deal with. Statute and case law require departments to make an individual evaluation of each applicant's Good Cause. Some departments list on their policies certain professions and occupations that under some circumstances will satisfy their Good Cause requirements.

Where does one apply for a California CCW?
If you live in a city with a municipal Police Department you apply to them. If you live in unincorporated county or a city that contract's for law enforcement with the County Sheriff's Department, you apply to the Sheriff's Department. Some cities delegate their authority to issue CCW's to the Sheriff by entering into an agreement called a (MOU) Memorandum of Understanding. You can contact the appropriate department in person or by mail to request a copy of their CCW policy and the DOJ Application. All departments are, by statute and case law, required to have written policies which are available to the public upon request. Police Chiefs are appointed officials who will generally follow the whim of the city council or other appointing entity. County Sheriffs are elected officials who, by definition, represent the county populous and their wants.

What are the costs?
It varies from department to department but the average is about $500.00. Most of the costs are set by statute and as such are non refundable. This fee is for the initial permit. Renewals run about $250 every two years after the original permit is issued.

Are there additional requirements?
Yes. Statute requires applicants to complete a course in firearm safety and the law regarding the permissible use of a firearm. Departments may also require the applicant to demonstrate proficiency at their range and submit all weapons to be carried for a safety inspection. Applicants are required to submit to Live Scan for a DOJ records check. Departments may require a Psychological test of applicants.

Are there restrictions on what type of firearm I can carry?
Firearms carried pursuant to a CCW should ideally be on the Attorney General's approved list, though this is not mandatory. Go with a standard firearm from an established manufacturer. Many departments will not allow any modifications except for changing grips. This includes trigger jobs and no laser sights; unless you know in advance that the department is happy with them (many are not).

Many departments limit you to three, identified, firearms and require you to qualify with each of these.

Are there restrictions on how many firearms can be on my permit?
Yes. Departments can restrict the number of firearms you may have on your permit. Keep in mind most departments will require that you qualify with all weapons listed on your permit.

Can the departments impose stricter requirements than those set by statute?
Yes, but they must be able to demonstrate the requirement's relevance to the CCW. Requirements added simply to deter applicants will not stand a court challenge.

What if my application is denied?
You have the right to request an appeal which may be in writing or a personal interview at the discretion of the department with a designee of the Chief or Sheriff. If you want to appeal you must do so within the time frames set by the department. If the denial is affirmed you have the right to pursue your case in state or Federal court. Success in state court had been spotty. Federal court has proven to be friendlier to persons denied Due Process or Equal Protection when applying for CCW's under the 14th Amendment. Please see Case Law for more information.

I have a permit from (any other state). Is my permit honored in California?
California does not honor any other state's concealed weapons permits!

What are the consequences of carrying without a permit?
The consequences for carrying without a permit can be bad. Leave it at that. You can only carry a concealed firearm if properly licensed.

What can I carry, once permitted?
A California CCW entitles the license to carry any handgun listed on the permit. This does not cover batons, knives, shotguns, long guns, etc. Handguns may be removed or added to the permit (subject to the department's maximum) as you need to, except that you will usually be required to qualify with the new handgun and pay the required fee, typically $10.00.

What is the best advice you can give to someone who is filling out an application for a Concealed Weapons permit?
Do not submit an application that is incomplete. Be honest with all your answers. You will be allowed to explain any negative information you provide. Your initial application is how you will be judged. Even if you appeal a denial, your initial application is the issuing authority's first impression of you.

GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. A denial is hard to overturn if you look as if you are going to swap things around until you "get it right."

I live in X County, but I work in Z County. Where do I apply?
You must apply in your county of residence. If you live in a city with its own Police Department, you may be able to apply to that PD.

Can I open carry if I have a permit?
Generally speaking, no. CCW=Concealed Carry Weapon. Concealed is the operative word. We know of one ex-CCW holder who lost his CCW permit because he insisted, even after warnings, on his right to carry openly on occasion. Was he standing up for his rights? Yes. Was he correct? Maybe. Was he wise? That's for you to decide.

If I have a California CCW, can I use it outside of California?
Currently, the following states will recognize a California CCW. However, you should check the current situation in that state (preferably from that state's Attorney General website) before traveling to another state.

  1. Alaska (no permit required)
  2. Arizona (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  3. Idaho (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  4. Indiana (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  5. Kentucky (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  6. Michigan (recognizes all state permits. Must be residents of issuing state)
  7. Missouri (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  8. Montana (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  9. Oklahoma (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  10. South Dakota (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  11. Tennessee (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  12. Texas (Unilaterally recognizes California CCW)
  13. Utah (recognizes all state permits held by nonresidents)
  14. Vermont (no permit required)
Can I carry in a Theme Park?
This is at the discretion of the park owners. You will need to check with the specific them park you will be visiting to find out their policy.

I've heard you can get a permit from an authority where you have a business, even though you don't live there?
This is true, they are valid only 90 days and the issuing department must notify the department where the applicant resides.

What is a "MOU"?
A Memorandum of Understanding is a provision of PC 12050 that permits a Chief (or Chiefs) of Police to delegate the authority to issue CCW's to the Sheriff of the county.
Last Updated: 9/12/2012 1:53 PM