General CCW Information

Where Do I Start?

The California CCW (Concealed Carry of Weapon) permit is one of the most difficult in the Nation to obtain. Each Issuing Agency has its own set of rules that must be followed closely in order to be issued a permit. There are many agencies that set the bar for “good cause” (reason to obtain the permit) so high that there are very few permits issued in the region. Many times it is the political will of the people and their perceived need for a firearm for personal protection that drives the process. In urban areas with a higher crime rate, local law enforcement officials are more reluctant to allow a liberal issue process based on the fact that there are “already too many guns on the streets”. These facts are what they are and the only way to change them is through doing your part by being a safe and responsible gun owner as well as a responsible citizen by voting your conscience and making a difference in your community where you can. The specific county CCW pages cover most of what you will need to know for Northern California Counties.

CALIFORNIA CCW OVERVIEW INFORMATION (See County/City CCW Pages for Specific Information)

ISSUING AUTHORITY: County Sheriff or Police Chief of the area you reside



RENEWAL: a 4 hour renewal class is required by the Penal Code.

PROCESSING TIME: Varies by region as some agencies require more extensive background checks and other administrative process than others. Usually from 6-24 weeks from the date of application.

FEES: Also can vary by region based on the administration needed for approval; between $135 and $250. Fees that are charged to all applicants regardless of the county are:

  • (a) Department of Justice fees for fingerprint and background checks; $70-$125
  • (b) Local processing fees; $20-$100
  • (c) Training fees $75-$250

TRAINING REQUIRED: Varies by agency from 4-16 hours. Most counties mandate some type of range training but not all of them. Agencies select authorized private firearm instruction companies to certify training. Most companies are region oriented and some of the larger ones are located in several regions. At this time there is no regulation of this training and therefore training and value can vary greatly. Do your homework before purchasing training and be prepared to pay from $150-$250. It has been the experience of this firearms professional that you get what you pay for. Instructors should be certified through a nationally credentialed organization (National Rifle Association, Peace Officers Standards and Training) and should have enough instructors employed to run a safe live-fire range.

STATE LAW REQUIREMENTS FOR ISSUE: California State Law allows Police Chiefs or County Sheriffs to issue a license (also known as a CCW Permit or just “CCW”) to residents of their jurisdictions if the following requirements are met:

  • (a) The applying resident is of good moral character.
  • (b) Good cause exists for the issuance.
  • (c) The applicant place of residence or employment is within the jurisdiction to which they are applying.
  • (d) The applicant has completed a course of training approved by the local issuing agency.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION: State law requires certain standards are met for documenting residency, identification, background checks, character of military service, and training certification. Additional documentation may be needed for specific agencies.

INFORMING LAW ENFORCEMENT OF CARRY: There is no California State Law regarding the issuance of a CCW permit that addresses the requirement to inform a law enforcement official that an individual is carrying a concealed weapon. Many issuing agencies have made it a requirement upon issue that a resident of their county or city that is issued a CCW permit must inform a law enforcement official of their concealed firearm as soon as they make contact.. Check with your local agency for their requirements on this subject. Of course when asked nearly all law enforcement officials want to be informed if an individual is carrying a concealed weapon. Wouldn’t you?

AUTOMOBILE CARRY: The California Penal Code does not prevent residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older and not prohibited from possessing a firearm from transporting a handgun. NOTE: Handguns and rifles or shotguns have differing laws regarding transportation. If the handgun is not listed on an individual’s CCW permit, it must be transported in completely enclosed and locked container (padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device) and unloaded. Center consoles and glove boxes are not considered locked containers for the purposes of this law. The only exception to the locked container law are is if the handgun is in the trunk of a car, the bed of a pickup, or otherwise completely inaccessible to the vehicle driver and passengers. Of course handguns that are listed on an individual’s permit can be carried loaded and in a manner that is concealed and safe.

PROHIBITED AREAS: California CCW Laws prohibit the carrying of a loaded firearm in the following areas:

  • (a) Any Federal building or other structure
  • (b) Military bases
  • (c) National Cemeteries
  • (d) Airport sterile areas
  • (e) California legislative buildings
  • (f) The Governor’s Mansion
  • (g) Federal prisons

Although The California Penal Code does not specifically prohibit a CCW permit holder from carrying a concealed firearm in a private business posted “no firearms”, it does allow for a trespassing charge if an individual is contacted and asked to leave the property immediately. Some issuing agencies have a requirement upon issue that an individual refrain from entering businesses that have posted prohibiting the carrying of firearms.

California public schools, colleges and universities are considered gun free zones in accordance with the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 ( PC 626.9). This law prohibits guns in schools. There is an exemption in the Penal Code (PC 626.9 (1)) that allows for peace officers, retired peace officers, active duty military, (while on duty) and security guards to be granted an exemption from this law.

MANDATED RETREAT: There is no mandate (law requiring) to retreat from an individual attempting to commit a crime which may end in death or great bodily injury.

DEADLY FORCE LAW AGAINST AN INTRUDER, PC 198.5: Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or RESIDENCE SHALL BE PRESUMED TO HAVE HELD A REASONABLE FEAR OF IMMINENT PERIL OF DEATH OR GREAT BODILY INJURY to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred. As used in this section, great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury.

OPEN CARRY: Open carry is prohibited in all incorporated areas. It may be legal in some rural areas if an authorized local law enforcement agency has approved it and the area qualifies under the California Penal Code. This qualification is based on county population and other factors. Check with your local law enforcement agency.

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