Carrying a Loaded Firearm

In the state of California, carrying a loaded firearm in public or in your vehicle falls under Penal Code 25850. This means that if you are caught with a loaded weapon, you can expect punishment and may need the help of a skilled bondsman.  Note that it is a different offense from carrying a concealed firearm, which is also prohibited and falls under Penal Code 25400.

Penal Code 25850(a)

In spite of the fact that the scenario of carrying a loaded firearm sounds very straightforward, it is actually quite the opposite. The offense involves a lot of technicalities, exceptions and plenty of legal jargon that makes it a much more complex situation than that. It is important to know exactly what Penal Code 25850 entails and what conduct is considered illegal. Defense attorneys in California will address certain aspects. These include what defines a firearm as being loaded, the definition of “firearm” itself and what constitutes a public place and prohibited area.

As per Penal Code 25850(a), a person is considered guilty of carrying a loaded firearm when it is found on their person or inside a vehicle while the individual is at a public place in a city or street in an incorporated or unincorporated area. The legal definition of “loaded” in regard to a firearm is when the firearm contains an unexpended cartridge or shell, the firearm includes a case that holds bullets or powder or when it has an attached magazine, clip or chamber.

Definition of Loaded Firearm

According to the gun laws in the state of California, a firearm is defined as a device that is meant to be used as a weapon and from which a bullet is projected or expelled through a barrel by force of an explosion or other means of combustion. This can even include a rocket or rocket that is propelled by a projectile launcher. Types of firearms include pistols, rifles, revolvers, shotguns and even tasers. Pellet guns and BB guns do not fall under the category of firearms.

California law states that a public place is defined as any place that is open to general use or common areas to which anyone has access. A prohibited area is a place in which it is illegal to use a weapon.

Penal Code 25850 generally refers to the general public because there are certain people who are exempt from the law in the state of California. Peace officers who are still active or honorably retired and individuals who have been summoned by officers to assist in making arrest or preserving the peace as they are assisting those officers are allowed to carry loaded firearms in public or in vehicles. Retired federal officers or agents and individuals who have the approval of the sheriff in the county in which they live are also exempt from this particular law.
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