Owning, possessing and using firearms is highly regulated in the state of California. It is helpful to know the laws concerning firearms so you don’t unknowingly expose yourself to criminal prosecution and forfeiture of your firearm. The California Department of Justice has compiled a handbook that details California’s firearm regulations named the California Firearm
Laws Summary.

Below are a sampling of how laws regulating firearm activity and use in criminal activity.

Brandishing A Deadly Weapon Or Firearm In Public

Penal Code section 417

Exhibiting a deadly weapon or firearm at someone in an angry, rude or threatening manner is Brandishing a Deadly Weapon. The penalties for this crime depend on the circumstances under which the Brandishing was done.

  • Brandishing a Deadly Weapon is punishable as a misdemeanor with a minimum of 30 days in County Jail.
  • Brandishing a Firearm is punishable as a misdemeanor with a minimum of 90 days in County Jail.
  • Brandishing a Loaded Firearm at a Daycare Center is a “wobbler” punishable as a misdemeanor or 16 months, two or three years in state prison.
  • Brandishing a Loaded Firearm at a Police Officer is a “wobbler” punishable as a misdemeanor or 16 months, two or three years in state prison.

Illegal Possession Of A Firearm

Penal Code sections 25400, 29800, 29805, 29825

The carrying of a firearm is highly restricted in California. The California Department of Justice has also explained how one can lawfully Travel with a Firearm in California. If you drive with a firearm in your vehicle that can easily be concealed or hidden on your body or if you walk around with a firearm concealed on your body, that is Carrying a Concealed Firearm.

Any unlawful carrying of a firearm is punishable as a Misdemeanor for your first offense.

If you have been convicted of a felony, of certain misdemeanor charges, or fall within certain categories as defined by the Bureau of Firearms, you are not allowed to own or possess a firearm.

Any person excluded from owning a firearm found in Possession of a Firearm is punishable by 16 month, two or three years in state prison.

Firearm Enhancements

Penal Code sections 12022.5, 12022.53, 12022.55

If a person uses a firearm during the commission of a felony, a firearm enhancement can be added to that felony. “Use of a Firearm” is can be holding a firearm, pointing a firearm, or hitting someone with a firearm. It does not require someone to discharge a firearm. If a person discharges a firearm during the commission of certain violent felonies, that person exposes themselves to further penalties. Lastly, if a person causes death or a great bodily injury to another with the firearm during the commission of certain violent felonies, that person exposes themselves to life in prison.

  • The Use of a Firearm during any felony carries an additional penalty of three, four, or ten years in state prison.
  • The Use of a Firearm during the commission of certain violent felonies carries an additional penalty of 10 years in state prison.
  • Discharging a Firearm during the commission of certain violent felonies carries an additional penalty of 20 years in state prison.
  • Causing the Death or Great Bodily Injury to Another with a Firearm during the commission of certain violent felonies carries an additional penalty of 25 years to Life in state prison.

Personally Use of a Firearm also changes any felony into a “Violent Felony” which makes that felony into a “Strike” and reduces an individuals earned conduct credits while in custody.