Firearms Open Carry Laws in California
Firearms Open Carry Laws in California

So this is a fascinating topic about gun rights that has reared its head again after violent looters and terrorists burned, looted, and took over part of the City of Seattle, Washington. COVID-19 and social distancing no longer mattered, even to the experts that tried so hard to shut down Trump rallies before the upcoming Oklamaha Rally. In that case, the recovery was a bit of a flop, and most people gave Trump a B for his performance. But outside, opponents of Trump supporters drove by and violently swore at attendees.

Concerning Seattle’s takeover of private and public property by looters and protesters, the governor declared, “It is patriotism” and an “autonomous zone.” So business owners and residents in California are increasingly suspicious of their elected leaders pandering to violent mobs, homeless activists, and non-citizens.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said violent crimes are occurring within the area of the city taken over by protesters, and officers are unable to respond quickly enough, if at all. (Source).

As an aside, most historians assert that our founding fathers warned us against democracy (mob rules, aka popular opinion, decides policy). And that is why they established this country to be a republic (protecting the rights of the individual from the government).

Indeed, Ben Franklin warned against the mob deciding policy. In the 1920s, history saw, with the rise of the NSDAP and Nurnburg Race Laws in Germany, the true power of democracy in its full glory. Jews were considered “privileged,” and the Germans deserved reparations. Their store windows were smashed on Krystallnacht, and race laws were passed to determine who was and was not entitled to reparations. Sound familiar?

As our politicians work to establish the California Office of Racial Policy, and it’s impending racial classifications (white = privileged, black = oppressed) the descendants of whites who fought against slavery will not be spared. In fact, a similar thing happened in Germany right after Hitler used the gun control laws that had been written by the previous democratic government to disarm Nazis and Communists from owning firearms. Jewish World War 1 war heroes were not spared, because they were simply too Jewish.

“The laws adopted by the Weimar Republic intended to disarm Nazis and Communists were sufficiently discretionary that the Nazis managed to use them against their enemies once they were in power.” In other words, they didn’t need to pass additional laws. The Nazis did pass a weapons law in 1938, but that only added restrictions to the previous law, especially for Jews and other “non-citizens.” (Source).

As noted, the Nazis used courts packed with Nazis to enforce the gun laws already on the books to disarm the “privileged” Jews. Even in Soviet Russia, Jews were used as pawns and targeted by Stalin. In all socialistic systems, there needs to be a pawn (in the U.S., it is now “white privilege”) because leftism is a proven historical failure. But their philosophy remains the same, place all that power into a few enlightened hands while pretending to help so many (Pol Pot comes to mind). So there must be a reason or group to blame for its failure.

Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela ignored Franklin and Thomas Jefferson’s warnings in favor of a republican government. These so-called failed socialist political/economic systems are now rampantly favored by students on U.S. college campuses. These philosophies are also wildly popular with public teacher’s unions. With the help of Communist China, our same school system has been overrun with kids wearing Che Guevera T-Shirts and students chanting in favor of the Bolshevik system touted by so many colleges and professors.

When asked, Franklin understood the power of the mob in taking away your right to life, liberty, and happiness.

“A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” (Source).

We will let the politicians fight over power and prestige. But many experts in Constitutional law argue that once the courts are packed with judges who ideologically are ashamed that you or they are “privileged” due to their melanin content, the blindfold now comes off of Lady Justice. Hence, it would help if you gave up your “benefits,” as defined by them, for being a different color. So you no longer have a system of equality.

By definition, a system like that is racist. And that is precisely what was in place in Nazi Germany when Jews were stripped of German citizenship for being ‘too Jewish” and hauled off to concentration camps in railway cattle cars. But for now, how will those whose taxes fund all these so-called judges, mayors, and standoffish police, defend their persons and private property from injury or wrongful death against groups like ANTIFA and other organizations who don’t believe in private property rights?

The U.S. Supreme Court Says Police Have No Duty To Protect You?

True. The main reason California and other blue-state politicians give in case of a robbery, home invasion, or other violence is that we can “call the police.” So there is no need to have a gun. Besides, someone might get hurt. So let’s defund the police, right?

On the other side of the argument, military vets, business owners, and homeowners argue that our U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the police have no duty to protect individuals, meaning YOU.

The court has kept this stance for over 30 years. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that police officers at all levels of the government have no duty to protect the citizens of this country. It is the job of police officers to investigate crimes and arrest criminals. We are on our own for protection. (Source).

In the past, California permitted individuals to carry unloaded firearms in public, with the condition that the weapon was displayed in plain sight and only if the individual was not in a prohibited area. The designated prohibited areas, by these laws, included government buildings, school zones (under the California Gun-Free School Zone Act), and post offices. So you could not openly carry there. The confusing patchwork of federal and state gun laws gives the police a lot of arrests to make. So naturally, entrepreneurs and citizens who work for a living are scared.

At least one politician sympathetic to BLM implied that people with white “privilege” should not have police protection because needing the police “comes from a place of privilege.” The argument is this is a form of reparations to pay for the sins of your ancestors. And this remains true, even if your ancestors fought against slavery! By accepting the benefits of a good economy, you accept the gifts of slavery, and so goes the argument.

“Yes, I mean, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors,” she explained. “And I know ⁠— and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege. Because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done.” (Source).

So, where does that leave you? If and when she gets her way, you will have no gun, or if you use it, you will immediately be charged with a hate crime. You have all seen on TV how the police stand around and let rioters and Marxists attack others and destroy businesses. So who will defend your children and wife from rape? The police? Where are the police in Seattle, as murders and rapes have permeated an un-policed socialist zone called CHAZ?

Do you think it can’t happen in California? You need only look at what happened in Santa Monica a few weeks ago. Or walk through Santa Monica, see and smell the urine of homeless people panhandling, intimidating store goers and owners for protection money. It’s already happened.

Who can you sue when one of these people, or a violent mob who thinks you appear “privileged,” attacks and kills you? Our Bill of Rights says the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed.” Of course, left-leaning courts vehemently disagree and default to the same political arguments that led to CHAZ taking over part of Seattle.

The Evolution Of Recent Anti-Public Firearms Carriage Laws.

The California “open carry” gun rights law would see drastic changes on January 1, 2012, when the California Assembly Bill 144 went into effect. This law made it illegal to carry unloaded handguns openly. But this was later expanded to prohibit long guns, shotguns, and rifles.

California Penal Code Section 26350 outlines this in detail, which initially dealt with openly carrying an unloaded handgun in specific public places, which is now a misdemeanor offense. (Source.) The new legislation makes it complicated for individuals exercising their Second Amendment right to carry their firearms lawfully.

The Second Amendment supposedly protects gun owners from being wrongfully harassed, arrested, or prosecuted for carrying a legal firearm.

Understanding California’s Severely Curtailed “Open Carry” Laws.

First, you don’t have any open-carry gun rights in California unless you are in an unincorporated county that does not already have a law preventing this right. “open carry” means that an individual is carrying a legal firearm in plain sight. California law has never expressly authorized the ability to take a weapon openly. The legality of this practice by individuals was premised on the fact that any existing California state laws did not prohibit it. But this changed with the endorsement of California Penal Code 26350.

One crucial factor is that the law initially only applied to handguns, not rifles or shotguns. So several avenues remained for gun activists to continue to have the ability to practice their support remained. But this was true because the limitations only applied to open handgun carry. People who believe in the Bill of Rights think that Law-abiding gun owners should be able to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms openly.

Openly Carrying Serves Two Purposes:

  • This is an effective way to prevent becoming a victim of a violent crime.
  • A belief is that when an individual who possesses a firearm visually will not be forced into a position where they would need to use their weapon.

Open carry laws in California did not apply to assault weapons [liberals in the legislature think any gun that looks scary is an assault weapon]. So these weapons function identically to any other centerfire rifle. But they are prohibited from being openly carried under Penal Code Section 12280, California’s law against possessing assault weapons. And you can also get charged with having another prohibited destructive device under Penal Code Section 12303. (The Code banning the possession of destructive devices.)

History of California Politics and Open Carry.

In 2004 the Unloaded Open Carry (UOC) movement began. And it had gained momentum over the years. There are currently 37 states that have variations of this law, and every state has UOC activists.

In California, these activists often gathered in public places for “meetups.” So these meetings happened at places like restaurants and Starbucks in particular. When these gatherings occurred, some of the individuals wore videotape recorders.

In some cases, they may have a lawyer present at this gathering of enthusiasts. But they were attempting to passively invite an altercation with law enforcement to enforce their legal rights in court after an unlawful arrest.

So these group meetings were a way to protest the California laws that relate to concealed weapons permits by the activists. Individuals who favor the open carrying of firearms argue that the state only issues concealed weapons permit to people who are “well connected” and denies the applications of ordinary citizens.

Permission to Open Carry a Gun Where Not Still Prohibited.

Some individuals may still possess firearms.

However, those individuals that fall in the “excluded” category include, but are not limited to:

  • Anyone under the age of 18 who are minor.
  • Individuals who are a potential threat to themselves or other people
  • Individuals diagnosed with a mental disorder.
  • Individuals convicted of a felony are prohibited from possessing, owning, purchasing, or receiving firearms under California’s Penal Code Section 12021, “felon with firearm” law.

To recap, handguns, shotguns, and rifles can be openly carried in non-prohibited places as long as the individual may legally own or possess firearms.

Even Then, You Must Carry Ammunition or Gun Magazines:

  • Openly, such as in a holster.
  • Ammo must not be in the gun itself.

This will help avoid the legal issue of having a concealed or partially concealed magazine, which would be considered an illegally concealed weapon. The open carry laws in California apply to weapons you carry on your person and firearms that are openly showing in a vehicle or motorcycle. Also, when passing through a school zone, you must place your weapon in a locked case, which complies with Penal Code Section 12026.1.

Understanding Other Illegal Acts.

Violation of the California Penal Code Section 25400 happens when you unlawfully ” carry a concealed weapon.” So this law removes you from the protection of California’s remaining open carry laws. After all, open carry is the right to carry a firearm openly in public. In specific circumstances, numerous other California gun laws will prohibit the carrying of a gun legally. It is vital to ensure you are not violating any of these other statutes when carrying a firearm.

The California Gun Laws Include But Are Not Limited to Rules About:

  • Carrying Concealed and Loaded Weapons

What about when you are going to and from the gun range or gunsmith, for example? California Penal Code Section 25400 is the state’s code for carrying a concealed weapon law. And if you violate this code, you will not be protected by the open carry laws.

Firearms are unloaded when the ammunition for the weapon is separate from the gun’s magazine well or action, for example. Then you are permitted to carry the unloaded firearm and ammunition unless used in a felony. Then it is legally considered a loaded weapon, even when the shot is taken separately.

The law permits residents to carry a loaded weapon under specific situations, including the following but not limited:

  • In your home
  • On private property.

Certain businesses in which you have at least a “possessory” interest and have the right to exclude others from it or control the activities within it. If you are stopped by a police officer, even where not prohibited from openly carrying a firearm, you must allow them to inspect your weapon. That way, cops can make sure it is not loaded. Failing to do this will give the police officers probable cause to arrest you.
What cannot Be Done

California Penal Code Section 417 states that even when you comply with the open carry laws, you may not use the weapon to intimidate or threaten any person. If you pull your firearm in a threatening, angry, or rude manner, prosecutors will likely charge you with a crime.

With looters ignoring curfews, rioters attacking big rig truckers, and shop owners taking their kids to work due to COVID-19 shuttering school, parents are terrified of rioters and Marxists violently harming their employees and kids. California’s top politicians say the police will protect you and may also answer to “defund” the police. Where does that leave the rest of us?

What if you are someone in the middle? There are two sides, the Marxists who want to disarm the police. Next are the people making the economy work. And these are the folks who find themselves targeted by groups inspired by the Weather Underground, BLM, and ANTIFA.

What SCOTUS Says?

Since the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that police have no duty to protect individuals, and California has effectively disarmed law-abiding citizens, avoiding personal injury is pretty much impossible in the Golden State. Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC assists people shot by rogue police and those denied their unalienable rights. If you want to learn more, read other sections of our website.


Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.

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