In specific circumstances, you can avoid criminal liability for carrying a concealed weapon in California without a permit by showing that you are in grave danger from another person.
California’s concealed carry law, Penal Code 25400 PC, makes it a crime for most people to carry a concealed firearm on their person or in their vehicle, unless they have a concealed carry permit.
But there is an exception to PC 25400 that was created with domestic abuse victims in mind. Under this exception, you are not guilty of carrying a concealed firearm if both of the following are true:
- You have a current restraining order against someone who has been found to present a threat to your life or safety; and
- You reasonably believe that you are in grave danger because of the circumstances forming the basis of that restraining order.
A very simple example would go something like this: A woman breaks up with her boyfriend. He threatens to kill her. She applies for and receives a restraining order against him. He contacts her in violation of the restraining order and tells her that it won’t stop him from killing her. She calls the police and tells them about the violation, but they are unable to locate him. So she borrows a handgun from a friend and carries it in her purse whenever she leaves the house.
Under the domestic abuse/restraining order exception to Penal Code 25400, this woman would not be guilty of California carrying a concealed firearm.
But it is important to note how narrow this exception to the concealed weapons law is. It requires the person carrying a weapon to have a restraining order in place, and to be in danger because of the circumstances described in that restraining order. If the woman in the example above had begun carrying a gun before she received her restraining order, she would have been in violation of PC 25400–even though she had good reason to fear for her life.