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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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California . Can a law abiding citizen carry a fire arm (holstered)

Customer Question

California . Can a law abiding citizen carry a fire arm (holstered) in plain veiw. Plain english please. If so must it be unloaded and is a person allowed to carry amunition than can readly be loaded on his/her person. Are there city ordinences that can impose there own fire arm laws?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 3 years ago.
Hello vygsvac0 and welcome to JustAnswer.

Thank you for asking your question on JustAnswer. Please be aware that answers on this site are to be used for general information purposes only, not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific legal advice. JA Legal Experts will provide only general information about the law, and will not apply their legal knowledge or skills to resolve or advise on the customer's specific factual circumstances described in the question, such as by proposing a specific course of action. By answering questions, experts do not form attorney-client relationships with users of the site. The laws, regulations, other governing authorities, standards, practices and procedures that apply to your particular question may differ depending on your location and information typically discovered through in-person evaluations or visits. No attorney-client relationships shall be formed on the site, experts are prohibited from having off-site contact with customers and experts may not represent customers in their cases. Communications on this site are not confidential and shall not be the subject of any associated privileges, so post with discretion. Communications on this site are limited, do not involve in-person evaluations or visits, and do not include safeguards and procedures typical of in-person evaluations and visits. For specific legal advice, consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.


In general, the open carry state laws in California allows citizens who otherwise are not disqualified from possessing firearms to openly carry unloaded handguns holstered in plain view. There are some restrictions on where this can be done (for example, you cannot open carry in school zones, defined as within 1000 feet of a school; in government buildings, courthouses in particular; within state parks; and at airports).

Open carry firearms must be unloaded, though with some exceptions it is permissible to have ammunition readily available as long as it is not actually loaded in the gun. The exceptions relate to the intended use of the weapon (it is illegal to have the handgun and ammunition immediately available if intended for use in the commission of a separate felony, for example).

A good summary of the various state laws in this regard is available here:

http://www.californiaopencarry.org/CaliforniaOpenCarry.pdf

However, there is legislation currently pending which would end the California open carry law (AB 144 introduced by Assemblymember Anthony Portantino of La Canada).

Cities and counties are prohibited by Government Code section 53071 from pass laws regarding firearms which are more restrictive than the state laws. Some local governments are attempting to get around this restriction by passing ordinances restricting possession of ammunition. The legality and enforceability of such ordinances remains an open question.

Thanks for asking your question here on JustAnswer. If you have any other questions about this issue, please let me know.

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