California has some of the strictest weapon and firearm laws in the country. In fact, many residents of the state don’t even know some of the laws pertaining to certain weapons and they will have a pretty difficult time trying to figure the laws out by reading the legislation. Here are the basic answers to whether or not a certain weapon or tool is legal in California:
* Please note that the information provided in this article is a simple guide that does not provide all the information out there. Certain counties and cities have different laws regulating the use or legality of these weapons, so you MUST check the laws and ask a person who would know, such as a police department official. Do NOT just use the answers given in this guide; check the actual laws and other sources. *
Any weapon deemed an assault rifle is illegal in California. A person who moves to the state and owns an assault rifle, however, can still keep it, but it must be registered with the Department of Justice. For residents of the state, however, you won’t find them for sale legally in the state, so don’t even try to go out and purchase one – it won’t work.
Semi-automatic rifle counterparts to assault rifles are legal in this state, however, so you aren’t completely out of luck if you want a certain firearm. The legal maximum magazine size in California is 10 rounds, but there is a grandfather clause if you owned a larger clip before a certain date. For more information, check out the California laws on assault rifles and magazines.
Batons (including Stun Batons)
Batons fall into the family of “billy clubs,” which are illegal in California for the most part for non-law enforcement and some security guards. Currently, batons are in the legal gray area of whether or not they are illegal to keep in a home for self-defense. Anywhere outside of your property, however, they are guaranteed to be illegal in the eyes of the law, so you shouldn’t carry one on you or in your vehicle. One of the easiest to recognize billy clubs are the ones that police officers usually carry, and a baton is just as easy to recognize. They may be legal in California in the future, but they aren’t at the moment.
Of course, per federal law, you must be at least 21 in order to obtain a handgun. They are legal in California, but you must obtain a concealed weapon permit in order to carry them on your person. There is an extensive background check when you go to buy a handgun, so anyone who isn’t eligible to carry a handgun has no chance of legally obtaining one. Also, handguns (and any other weapon) are illegal on public school grounds, government property, and airports, so don’t bring them there.
Although they are not a weapon, there are a growing number of people who use lock-picks as a recreational tool. They are legal in California, but you must be extremely careful with what you choose to lock-pick. For starters, if you attempt to unlock any lock that does not belong to you or you do not have permission to unlock, then you can be charged with breaking and entering, so don’t even try it – you will most likely go to jail. Also, if you break into a home or business and have lock-picks with you if you are caught, then you will be charged with possession of burglary tools (even if you didn’t use the picks to get into the building).
Basically, you can use lock-picks completely legally but ONLY on locks that you own or have permission to work on. It will probably be difficult to find someone that will allow you to pick their locks, so you should just stick to picking locks that you own.
Although you must be 18 to purchase them, shotguns and rifles are completely legal in California. Of course, you can’t exactly carry them in public, but you can keep them in your home or vehicle and use them for certain activities. Hunting, home defense, and recreational shooting are the most common uses for shotguns and rifles (shotguns are extremely powerful and effective security weapons). Obviously, don’t go around shooting anyone.
These firearms can be kept in a vehicle, but they must have a trigger lock on them or be in a locked case. Also, you don’t really want to have the firearm within reach if you get pulled over in your vehicle. Ammunition must be kept in a separate compartment of the vehicle than the gun. Keeping a gun in the house is legal, but you have to keep it locked away or have a trigger lock on it. Under all circumstances, if a minor obtains your weapon and it isn’t properly locked in some way or another, then you are liable for any deaths or injury they cause.
Both stun guns and Tasers are legal in California because they are a non-lethal form of self-defense. You can carry them concealed in many places, but it isn’t recommended to bring them onto public school grounds, government property, or airports. Also, it isn’t the best idea to be waving them around in public. Keep them out-of-sight and only use them in a real emergency or you might find yourself in some pretty big legal trouble if you misuse a stun gun or Taser. There are huge fines and jail terms if you use a stun gun or Taser on a person without cause. Basically, don’t stun anyone who isn’t about to cause you physical harm. You can technically use it on someone with their permission since they are non-lethal weapons, but even that isn’t recommended. In the end, these self-defense weapons are completely legal in California.
Considered to be daggers, throwing knives are legal in California, but there are restrictions on them. You cannot carry them in public at all – concealed or not. However, you can keep them in your vehicle without any problems, although it isn’t recommended to just keep them sitting on your dashboard or anything. Throwing knives are usually used for recreation, and you can use them on your property or in a non-public place, such as if you were camping or out in the middle of nowhere. Don’t carry them in public or you’ll be in some legal trouble very quickly.
As you can see, California is pretty strict with various types of weapons in comparison to other states. For instance, you can own larger clips and magazines in Arizona – plus assault rifles are legal. You can still own most types of weapons in California, but the ones that are banned will get you into a lot of trouble if you are caught with them. Basically, it’s best to just not own an illegal weapon in California. If you need more information, you can and SHOULD consult the actual weapons laws of California, an attorney (many are knowledgeable about weapons laws), or a police department.