California Gun Laws

After the 2011 Seal Beach shootings, where a man walked into a hair salon carrying 3 guns, using at least two of them to shoot and kill 8 people, there was a resurfacing of the cry for gun control. Whether or not the man possessed the guns legally, it appeared to be obvious is that there were no gun laws that could have prevented this man from killing these people.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Clearly that was not the case in the Seal Beach shootings. Additionally, there are longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act is an Act of the United States Congress that instituted federal background checks on firearm purchases in the United States. The Brady Act requires that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacture or importer, unless an exception applies. Further, under the Brady Act, you cannot have a gun for personal or business if you:

1. Were convicted of a crime punishable by being in prison for more than one year. Convicted felons may not possess firearms;
2. Are a fugitive from justice;
3. Are addicted to, or legally use, any controlled substance;
4. Have been ruled mentally defective by a court, or are committed to a mental institution;
5. You are an illegal alien living in the United States unlawfully;
6. Received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces;
7. Renounced your U.S. citizenship, if you are a U.S. citizen;
8. Are subject to a court restraining order that involves your “intimate partner,” your partner’s child, or children; or
9. Were convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in any court.

State gun laws vary considerably from state to state. California gun laws allow almost anyone to buy a firearm without a license. The only people generally prohibited are felons, persons convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses, persons addicted to narcotics, persons who suffer from mental illness and minors. Therefore, in California if you don’t fall into one of these categories, there are ways to exercise your Second Amendment right to bear arms.

I often get calls from individuals who tell me they are being charged with the crime of “felon in possession of a firearm”, and that they were unaware that their prior felony conviction prohibited them from possessing a firearm. Unless an individual was specifically told this, either in open court by the judge or by their attorney, or unless it was written in the paperwork associated with their conviction, they may not even be aware that they are breaking the law.

As an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, I am a strong believer in the Constitution of the United States and in protecting the rights of individuals. The “right to carry” laws are federal and state constitutional rights. The law has common sense protections, and as a qualified attorney, who is knowledgeable in the field of criminal defense, can help classify the exceptions for someone being charged with possession of firearms.

If you would like to know more about California Gun Laws, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at