California License to Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW)

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Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW)

The Law

California Penal Code 12050

12050.  (a) (1) (A) The sheriff of a county, upon proof
that the person applying is of good moral character, that good
cause exists for the issuance, and that the person applying
satisfies any one of the conditions specified in subparagraph
(D) and has completed a course of training as described in
subparagraph (E), may issue to that person a license
to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of
being concealed upon the person in either one of the 
following formats:
  (i) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other
firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
  (ii) Where the population of the county is less than
200,000 persons according to the most recent federal
decennial census, a license to carry loaded and exposed in
that county a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of
being concealed upon the person.
  (B) The chief or other head of a municipal police
department of any city or city and county, upon proof
that the person applying is of good moral character, that good
cause exists for the issuance, and that the person applying
is a resident of that city and has completed a course of
training as described in subparagraph (E), may issue to that
person a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm
capable of being concealed upon the person in either one of
the following formats:
  (i) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other
firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
  (ii) Where the population of the county in which the city is
located is less than 200,000 persons according to the most
recent federal decennial census, a license to carry loaded and
exposed in that county a pistol, revolver, or other firearm
capable of being concealed upon the person.

  (b) A license may include any reasonable restrictions or
conditions which the issuing authority deems warranted,
including restrictions as to the time, place, manner, and
circumstances under which the person may carry a pistol,
revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the
person.
  (c) Any restrictions imposed pursuant to subdivision (b)
shall be indicated on any license issued.

What application information is required?

Penal Code 12051 (a) (1) The standard application form for licenses described in paragraph (3) shall require information from the applicant including, but not limited to,

  • the name, occupation, residence and business address of the applicant,
  • his or her age, height, weight, color of eyes and hair, and
  • reason for desiring a license to carry the weapon.

Applications for licenses shall be filed in writing, and signed by the applicant. Any license issued upon the application shall set forth the licensee's name, occupation, residence and business address, his or her age, height, weight, color of eyes and hair, the reason for desiring a license to carry the weapon, and shall, in addition, contain

  • a description of the weapon or weapons authorized to be carried,
  • giving the name of the manufacturer, the serial number, and the caliber.

The license issued to the licensee may be laminated.

12052. (a) The fingerprints of each applicant shall be taken... There is a fee for fingerprint processing, and the fee varies by location.

Fees

Penal Code 12054 (a) specifies a fee may be charged. The state fee is one part; the local issuing agency may charge up to $100 in addition to the state fee for the initial issue, $25 above the state fee for renewal.

As of 2007 CA-DOJ lists 11 CCR 4006

4006. CCW Fees. 
As authorized pursuant to subdivision (a) of section 12054 of 
the Penal Code, the Firearms Division fees for licenses to carry
concealed weapons (CCW) are as follows: 
(a)(1) Initial fee for 90 day employment CCW license: $22 
     (2) Renewal fee for 90 day employment CCW license: $22 
(b)(1) Initial fee for 2 year resident CCW license: $44 
    (2) Renewal fee for for 2 year resident CCW license: $44 
(c)(1) Initial fee for 3 year judicial CCW license: $66 
    (2) Renewal fee for 3 year judicial CCW license: $66 
(d)(1) Initial fee for 4 year reserve peace officer CCW license:
$88 
     (2) Renewal fee for 4 year reserve peace officer CCW
license: $88

Terms not defined in law

"good moral character"

"good cause"

What does "may issue" mean?

"May issue" means that an applicant may meet all published requirements for the license and the issuing authority is free to deny or issue the license without explanation.

In 2009, Assemblyman Knight introduced AB 357 to amend the law from "may issue" to "shall issue". The bill has not yet (March 26, 2009) been considered by the Assembly.

Who may issue CCW?

"The sheriff of a county" or "The chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city or city and county" may issue a license.

What kind of training may be required?

Penal Code 12050 (a)(1)(E)

   (E) (i) For new license applicants, the course of
training may be any course acceptable to the licensing
authority, shall not exceed 16 hours, and shall include
instruction on at least firearm safety and the law regarding
the permissible use of a firearm.  Notwithstanding this clause,
the licensing authority may require a community college
course certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards
and Training, up to a maximum of 24 hours, but only if required
uniformly of all license applicants without exception.
  (ii) For license renewal applicants, the course of
training may be any course acceptable to the licensing
authority, shall be no less than four hours, and shall include
instruction on at least firearm safety and the law regarding the
permissible use of a firearm.  No course of training shall be
required for any person certified by the licensing authority as
a trainer for purposes of this subparagraph, in order for that
person to renew a license issued pursuant to this section.

The current training requirement was established in 1998 with AB2022.

What else may be required?

Penal Code 12054(c) allows "psychological testing on the initial application" at a cost not to exceed $150.

Length of license term

Generally a a CCW license is valid for two years. For sworn peace officers, up to four years, and for judges and custodial officers employed by a sheriff, up to three years may be specified.

Qualifying retired Federal officers may receive permits up to five years in duration (Penal Code 12027(i)).

Qualifying retired State and local officers may receive permits up to five years in duration (Penal Code 12031(b))

Where is concealed carry allowed by the license?

Unless limited by a 12050(b) restriction on the license, a license is valid in the entire state.

Specific exemptions allowing concealed carry for licensees under 12050 are

  • Penal Code 171b public meetings
  • Penal Code 171c State Capitol and related areas
  • Penal Code 171d Governor's mansion and Legislator's residences
  • Penal Code 626.9(l) School zones (K-12 and college/university)

Limitations on carry

Federal and local laws may limit concealed carry even for licensed individuals. Airport sterile areas and United States military installations are two examples.

Courthouses and jail facilities commonly prohibit firearms, even for licensed individuals.

San Francisco bans possession of firearms "upon public premises selling or serving alcoholic beverages" (San Francisco Municipal Code SEC. 3603).

How many California CCW licenses exist?

The CA-DOJ occasionally publishes statistics. For 2007, the statewide number is 40,296.

Application of the law

It is apparent from the published information on the numbers of licenses that the CCW law is applied differently in different parts of the State. One observation: cities and counties with populations greater than approximately 300,000 tend to issue many fewer licenses, in absolute numbers and by population, than smaller jurisdictions.

As of July, 2008, several suits have been filed against cities based on their CCW issuance (or lack of issuance) policies. Many of these are documented at CALCCW, as well as more detailed information on specific agency policies.

Jim March's EQUALCCW is another valuable resource.

Liability of Issuing Authority

The Assembly Public Safety analysis for AB 2022 includes

   a)  Overview of existing law and case law.
      Government Code 818.4 immunizes a public agency for any 
      injury caused by the issuance, denial, suspension or
      revocation of, or the failure or refusal to issue, deny,
      suspend, or revoke any permit, license certificate,
      approval or order or similar authorization where the
      public entity or an employee of the public entity is
      authorized by enactment to determine whether or not such
      authorization should be issued, denied, suspended, or
      revoked.
 
      Similarly, California Government Code Section 821.2
      immunizes a public employee from any liability for any 
      injury caused by his or her issuance, denial, suspension
      or revocation of, or the failure or refusal to issue,
      deny, suspend, or revoke any permit, license certificate,
      approval or order or similar authorization where he or
      she is authorized by enactment to determine whether or
      not such authorization should be issued, denied,
      suspended, or revoked.
 
      The California Supreme Court has repeatedly held that  
      Government Code Sections 818.4 and 821.2 in combination  
      totally and completely immunize public agencies and
      their employees from any liability where they take any
      action on permits or licenses except where the duty to
      issue clearly involves no determination of any kind on
      the part of the licensing agency.     
      Nunn v. State of California (1984) 35 Cal.3d 616, 627;
      Morris v. County of Marin 18 Cal.3d 901, 911-915


Legal Challenge to effective 'no-issue'

On May 5, 2009, SAF and Calguns foundation filed suit in The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, challenging the CCW issuance policies of the Sheriffs of both Yolo and Sacramento Counties. The complaint Sykes v McGinnis is available here.