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Types of Gun Crimes in California



It is important that we all stay up to date on the gun laws in California. The state’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation, and if you are found guilty of a gun crime, it can have serious repercussions for not only your life but also your family’s lives. Gun crimes are broken down into felonies and misdemeanors depending on how serious they are.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm

If you have a felony conviction on your record, you may be charged with felon in possession of a firearm if you possess a gun.

You could face additional penalties if it can be proven that:

  • You were aware of the fact that you cannot legally own or possess a firearm
  • The gun was in your immediate control or possession
  • You did not have permission from law enforcement to have it in your possession

Assault Weapons

Under California Penal Code §16590, assault weapons are defined as any semiautomatic centerfire rifle or pistol that has a detachable magazine and any one of the following features:

  • a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
  • a thumbhole stock;
  • a folding or telescoping stock;
  • a grenade launcher or flare launcher;
  • rocket launcher.

High Capacity Magazines

California law defines "high capacity magazines" as ammunition feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds. This includes any ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, whether it is manufactured to hold more than 10 rounds or not.

High-capacity magazines are illegal in California, but many people still have them because they were lawfully possessed prior to January 1, 2000 (the date they were banned). If you have one of these high-capacity magazines, you may be able to keep it if you register it with the DOJ as required by Penal Code section 30310(a)(2)(A). You must also register every weapon into which it will be inserted and transported lawfully under Penal Code section 30312(a)(8) and 30312(b)(2).

However, if an individual possesses a large capacity magazine without being registered or possessing other authorization from the DOJ per Penal Code section 30900(b), they could face up to 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine for each offense committed after January 1st 2019 when Proposition 63 took effect..

Possession of Unregistered Firearm

  • If you are found with an unregistered gun,
  • it is a felony and punishable by up to 3 years in prison. If you have been convicted of certain crimes before, this sentence may be increased to 5 years in prison.
  • It is illegal to possess any type of firearm unless it has been registered with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or you have a license to possess firearms or handgun ammunition issued by the DOJ.

If you are convicted of any of the above gun crimes, you will face serious criminal penalties.

Under California's gun laws, the following are the most common types of crimes involving guns:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit (PC 12025). You can be charged with this offense if you carry a handgun hidden from public view or in another way that is not considered to be in plain sight.
  • Possessing an unregistered firearm (PC 12001). This charge applies when you possess an unregistered handgun, rifle or shotgun.
  • Manufacturing a firearm without a serial number (PC 29180). This crime applies when you manufacture any type of firearm without first obtaining permission from ATF and including the required serial numbers on each gun. The penalties for this offense vary depending on whether it was your first time committing this crime and other factors such as whether there were children present at the time.

California gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation.

California gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. You must be 18 years of age or older to purchase a firearm in California and all firearms must be registered with the California Department of Justice. If you want to buy a gun, there's a 10-day waiting period between purchasing and taking possession of it.

In addition to these requirements, there are also several federal regulations that apply to buying guns in California:

  • All sales must go through licensed dealers who have been authorized by their local police departments (or sheriff's offices)
  • It is illegal for anyone under 21 years old to possess ammunition except under certain circumstances (for example if they're hunting with an adult over 21)

California has a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases.

California has a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases. This means you must wait 10 days before you can take possession of your firearm. However, there are exceptions to this rule:

  • If you are buying a firearm from a private party, there is no waiting period.
  • If you already own a valid California Concealed Carry License (CCL).

You must be 18 years of age or older to purchase a firearm in California.

You must be 18 years of age or older to purchase a firearm in California. You must be 21 years old if you wish to purchase a handgun and 18 years old if you wish to purchase a rifle or shotgun.

If you are an active duty military member, you may buy guns at the age of 18. If you were discharged from the military for medical reasons, and want to purchase a firearm, then your state law may apply differently than ours does here in California. This is because there are many federal regulations that exist around gun purchases by former military members who have been medically discharged due to injury or illness suffered while on active duty.

All firearms must be registered in California.

All firearms must be registered in California. In order to legally own a firearm in California, you must have a license to carry concealed weapons (CCW) and register each weapon with the state. You must also register all ammunition purchases and sales, transfers, and sales of long guns (shotguns and rifles).

It’s illegal to carry a loaded firearm on your person or in a vehicle.

It’s illegal to carry a loaded firearm on your person or in a vehicle. You may not carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle, even if it is not on your person. The firearm must be unloaded and stored in a locked container or trunk.

In addition to the above, there are certain areas where it is illegal to possess any firearm outside of designated hunting grounds and shooting ranges. These include:

  • State parks
  • State beaches
  • County parks and beaches (except those that have been authorized for recreational shooting)

Assault weapons and high capacity magazines are illegal in California as well.

  • Assault weapons and high capacity magazines are illegal in California as well.
  • Assault weapons are semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines that have two or more of the following features: a folding stock, a pistol grip that protrudes beneath the action of the weapon, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or threaded barrel intended to accommodate one, and a grenade launcher.
  • High capacity magazines are those capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition for rifles and handguns (including .22 caliber rimfire pistols). A one time exception allows gun owners to possess these prohibited items until July 1, 2017. After that date they must be disposed of through an amnesty period if they do not qualify as curio or relic firearms, remain inoperable (meaning they cannot fire any ammunition), or have been modified so that they no longer meet the criteria above

Those convicted of a violent felony may not legally own, possess or carry firearms for 10 years after their release from prison.

Those convicted of a violent felony may not legally own, possess or carry firearms for 10 years after their release from prison. This law applies to convictions in any state and does not require that the individual be incarcerated at the time of sentencing.

A violent felony, as defined by California law, is an offense that involves the use of force or violence against another person (or animal), or where force or violence was used to commit another felony.

The 10-year prohibition on firearm ownership applies whether you were convicted in California or another state, and even if your conviction has been expunged from your record under Penal Code 1203.4 PC (expungement).

It is against the law to sell, provide or purchase ammunition to/from another individual unless you have a valid firearms dealer’s license.

You must be at least 18 years old to purchase ammunition in California. If you are not 18 and present identification showing that you are at least 18 years of age, the dealer can make an exception and sell or transfer the ammunition only if it is accompanied by a sworn statement from parent or guardian with written parental or guardian consent stating that the minor may possess live ammunition; this consent shall be valid for one year from date of execution.

You need a valid firearms dealer’s license to sell or buy ammunition. It is illegal to sell, provide or purchase any handgun ammunition to/from an individual who does not have a valid firearms dealer's license unless they have obtained written authorization from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Firearms. This means that private individuals cannot buy ammo through non-licensed dealers without first getting approval from DOJ. There is no restriction on transfers between family members as long as it occurs within California but there must be proof of identity for both parties involved (driver's license).

There are many restrictions on gun use and ownership in California

While California’s gun laws are more restrictive than other states, it is important to understand them. It is illegal for youth under the age of 18 to possess a firearm in California, but there are exceptions for hunting, target practice and other activities that require use of a firearm. However, minors may not purchase or otherwise receive guns from anyone except their parents or guardians.

In order to purchase a gun in California, you must show proof that you have completed an approved training course and pass a background check conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This applies even if you already own another kind of weapon—you will still need to apply for a new permit at least five days before buying any kind of firearm with which you are unfamiliar.

The DOJ maintains an online database called Calguns where individuals can conduct background checks on themselves or others before purchasing firearms through licensed dealerships. The state also requires registration of all guns with local law enforcement agencies within 48 hours after purchasing one through a licensed dealer (LDA); failure to do this could result in penalties up to six months in prison along with fines up to $1,000 per day per offense


If you are facing a gun crime charge, do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes can help you understand your options and protect your rights during this difficult time.

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