Authority for CCW Permits
California Penal Code sections 26150 and 26155 provide that a sheriff of a county or the chief of police of any city or county may issue a license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person (CCW license). Penal Code section 26175 requires the Attorney General to prescribe a statewide standard application form for a CCW license.
Who May be Issued a CCW Permit
The licensing authority specified in Penal Code sections 26150 and 26155 states that a sheriff or chief of police may issue a license to persons who are of good moral character, who have completed a course of training, and where good cause exists for issuance of the CCW license. All applicants for a CCW license will be fingerprinted and state and federal records will be checked to determine if they are eligible to possess firearms.
Criminal Convictions and CCW Permits
You can see that the standard is vague for the police agency which “may issue a license to persons who are of good moral character, who have completed a course of training, and where good cause exists for issuance of the CCW license.” Most police agencies have a policy regarding prior convictions and the length of time that must pass before they are no longer an impediment to obtaining a CCW permit, usually 5 years or more. Although an expungement and any of the other methods to clean your criminal record do not guarantee that you will obtain a CCW permit, it is always best to have the cleanest record possible when applying.
CCW Criminal Conviction Questions
The two most common questions on a CCW permit application are (1) Have you ever been convicted for any criminal offense (civilian or military) in the U.S. or any other country, and (2) List any arrests or formal charges, with or without disposition, for any criminal offenses within the U.S. or any other country (civilian or military). In the first question, they are going to want any felony or misdemeanor crimes including DUI’s, vehicle code violations no matter how long ago they occurred. In the second question, they will want the final disposition of the arrest. Even if charges were reduced, dismissed, dropped, sealed, or expunged no matter how long ago they occurred. In most cases, convictions or arrests will not necessarily disqualify a person from receiving a CCW permit.
CCW Training Required
Penal Code sections 26150 and 26155 specify that new license applicants must complete a course of training. The training may consist of any course acceptable to the licensing authority. The licensing authority may require either a course not to exceed 16 hours which includes instruction on at least firearms safety and the law regarding the permissible use of a firearm, or a community college course not to exceed 24 hours certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. If the licensing authority requires the community college course, it must be uniformly required for all CCW license applicants. The licensing authority may also require annual qualification on the weapon(s) during the term for which the CCW license is granted. For license renewal applicants, the course of training may be any course acceptable to the licensing authority, shall be no less than four hours in length, and shall include instruction on firearm safety and the law regarding permissible use of a firearm.
Psychological Testing Required
In addition to licensing requirements as specified by the licensing authority, jurisdictions may require psychological testing on the initial application. If required, the applicant shall be referred to a licensed psychologist used by the licensing authority for the psychological testing of its own employees. Any fees charged will be the responsibility of the applicant and such fees shall not exceed $150.00 for an initial test. Additional psychological testing of an applicant seeking license renewal shall be required only if there is compelling evidence to indicate that a test is necessary (Pen. Code, § 26190, subd. (f)).
Completing the CCW Application
Answering all the questions on the standard application does not guarantee the issuance of a CCW license. The determination whether to issue the license is at the discretion of the licensing authority. Pursuant to Penal Code section 26160, each licensing authority, in addition to using the state standard application form, will have a written policy summarizing what they require. Prior to issuing a CCW license, the statutes require proof that:
- The applicant is of good moral character;
- Good cause exists to issue the CCW license;
- The applicant meets residence requirements; and
- The course of training prescribed by the licensing authority has been completed.
The applicant shall not be required to complete any additional application or form for a CCW license, or to provide any information other than that necessary to complete this standard application form except to clarify or interpret information provided herein (Pen. Code, § 26175, subd. (g)). The applicant will certify under penalty of perjury that all answers provided are true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief. The applicant will also acknowledge that information disclosed on this application may be subject to public disclosure.
CCW License Conditions and Restrictions
The licensee is responsible for all liability for, injury to, or death of any person, or damage to any property which may result through any act or omission of either the licensee or the agency that issued the license. In the event any claim, suit, or action is brought against the agency that issued the license, its chief officer or any of its employees, by reason of, or in connection with any such act or omission, the licensee shall defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the agency that issued the license, its chief officer or any of its employees from such claim, suit, or action. The licensee authorizes the licensing agency to investigate, as they deem necessary, the licensee’s record and character to ascertain all information which may concern his/her qualifications and justification to be issued a license to carry a concealed weapon and release said agency of all liability arising out of such investigation. While exercising the privileges granted to the licensee under the terms of this license, the licensee shall not, when carrying a concealed weapon:
- Consume any alcoholic beverage
- Be in a place having a primary purpose of dispensing alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption
- Be under the influence of any medication or drug, whether prescribed or not
- Refuse to show the license or surrender the concealed weapon to any peace officer upon demand
- Impede any peace officer in the performance of his/her duties
- Present himself/herself as a peace officer to any person unless he/she is, in fact, a peace officer as defined by California law
- Unjustifiably display a concealed weapon
- Carry a concealed weapon not listed on the permit
- Carry a concealed weapon at times or circumstances other than those specified in the permit
Title 49, section 46505 of the United States Code states that a license to carry a concealed weapon does not authorize a person to carry a firearm, tear gas, or any dangerous weapon aboard commercial airlines. Further, a person must declare that he/she is carrying such firearm, tear gas, or any dangerous weapon BEFORE entering the boarding area of an air terminal where the security checks are made. Such violation can result in arrest by law enforcement. Any violation of these restrictions or conditions may invalidate the CCW license and may void any further use of the license until reinstated by the licensing authority. Any arrest for a felony or serious misdemeanor, including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, is cause for invalidating the license.
Penal Code section 26180 – False Statement on Application Form
(a) Any person who files an application required by Section 26175 knowing that statements contained therein are false is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Any person who knowingly makes a false statement on the application regarding any of the following is guilty of a felony.
(1) The denial or revocation of a license, or the denial of an amendment to a license.
(2) A criminal conviction.
(3) A finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.
(4) The use of a controlled substance.
(5) A dishonorable discharge from military service.
(6) A commitment to a mental institution.
(7) A renunciation of United States citizenship.