What is a California license to carry (LTC or “CCW”)?

California carry licenses are issued by local licensing authorities (a “sheriff of a county” or a “chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city or city and county”) under the authority found in Cal. Penal Code section 26150, et seq. CCW license are, effectively, the means by which one may be exempt from California’s (and some federal) laws prohibiting various firearm-related conduct.

California generally prohibits the open or concealed carriage of a handgun, whether loaded or unloaded, in public locations. See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code sections:

  • 171b (prohibiting possession of a firearm at public buildings and public meetings)
    • Exemption at 171b(b)(3)
  • 171c (prohibiting possession of a firearm in/at the State Capitol, legislative offices, hearing rooms, and offices of constitutional officers)
    • Exemption at 171c(b)(2)
  • 171d(a)-(b) (prohibiting possession of a firearm at any residence of state constitutional officers and legislative members)
    • Exemption at 171d
  • 626.9 (prohibiting possession of firearms in school zones)
    • Exemption at 616.9(l)
  • 25400 (prohibiting concealed carry of a firearm)
    • Exemption at section 25655
  • 25850 (prohibiting carry of a loaded firearm)
    • Exemption at 26010
  • 26350 (prohibiting open carry of an unloaded firearm)
    • Limited exemption at 26381
  • See also, 18 U.S. Code section 922(q)(2)-(3) (federal gun free school zone laws)
    • Exemption to the federal crime of firearm possession in school zones under (q)(2)(A) for state resident firearm carry licensees found at (q)(2)(B)(ii)