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Unloaded Firearm

Penal Code 26350 PC - Open Carrying an Unloaded Firearm

California has strict laws on gun ownership and the use of guns. Unlike “open carry” states, you are prohibited from walking around in public with a firearm openly displayed, even if it's unloaded.

California Penal Code 26350 PC is the statute that makes it a misdemeanor crime to carry an unloaded handgun publicly or in a vehicle. Suppose you are convicted under this law. In that case, you are facing a fine and up to one year in county jail.

Penal Code 26350 PC - Open Carrying an Unloaded Firearm
It's a crime under PC 26350 to openly carry an unloaded firearm in public or in a vehicle.

PC 26350 says, “Anyone is guilty of openly carrying an unloaded handgun when they carry upon their person an exposed and unloaded handgun outside a vehicle while in a public place or public street, a prohibited area in a city, county, incorporated area, or inside or on a vehicle, whether or not on their person.”

To convict someone of violating this law, a prosecutor must prove all the crime elements, such as openly carrying an exposed or unloaded handgun or inside a vehicle in a public place.

A “handgun” can be a pistol, revolver, or any firearm that could be concealed on a person's body. It could also include any device designed as a weapon where a projectile is expelled through a barrel by explosion or combustion, and the barrel does not exceed 16 inches. Let's review this state law in more detail below.

What Does the Law Say?

As noted, PC 26350 prohibits openly carrying an unloaded handgun. This includes having it on your person or in your vehicle in public. To convict you of violating this law, it must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the elements of the crime as follows:

  • You possessed an unloaded handgun;
  • You carried it visibly on your person or openly in a vehicle, and
  • You were in a public place when it occurred.

Here are some other essential things to know about this law:

  • A "handgun" is any pistol, revolver, or other firearm concealed on your body. It does not include a rifle or shotgun;
  • A "public place" is any place reasonably open and accessible. It includes a sidewalk, street, alley, park, building, etc. It does not include private property.
  • While PC 26350 explicitly prohibits the open carry of unloaded handguns, it's illegal under other laws listed below to carry a loaded or concealed weapon, which typically has harsher penalties.

What Are the Exceptions?

There are exceptions to PC 26350 openly carrying an unloaded handgun, such as if you fall under one of the categories below:

  • Valid concealed weapons permit;
  • Hunting with a valid license;
  • Active or retired peace officer;
  • Active member of the military;
  • Practicing at a shooting range
  • Attending a gun show;
  • Licensed dealer or manufacturer of firearms;
  • Authorized to carry a weapon as a typical carrier employee (airline);
  • Employee of gun repair shop;
  • Employee at a pawn shop;
  • Production of a movie/TV show using a gun as a prop,

What Are the Related Crimes?

Several California laws are related to Penal Code 26350 PC open carrying an unloaded firearm, including the following: 

  • Penal Code 25850 PC carrying a loaded firearm in public defines the crime of carrying loaded firearms in general, not just a handgun;
  • Penal Code 417 PC brandishing a weapon or firearm defines the crime of displaying a weapon in an aggressive or threatening manner;
  • Penal Code 25400 PC carrying a concealed firearm covers a situation where the weapon is concealed, including firearms;
  • Penal Code 29800 PC felon in possession of a firearm law prohibits a convicted felon from owning or possessing a firearm;
  • Penal Code 16590 PC manufacturing, selling, or possessing a dangerous weapon.

What Are the Penalties for PC 26350?

Suppose you are convicted of violating PC 26350. In that case, it's a misdemeanor that carries the following penalties:

  • Up to 1 year in jail, and
  • A fine of up $1000 per handgun.

Suppose you were illegally carrying two handguns. In that case, your fine could be doubled up to $2,000.

Suppose you were carrying ammunition on your person with the unloaded weapon. In that case, the listed jail time and fines would automatically apply.

What Are the Legal Defenses?

Suppose you have been accused of openly carrying an unloaded handgun and violating PC 26350. In that case, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can use different legal strategies to obtain the best possible outcome, as discussed below.

Defenses for Open Carrying an Unloaded Firearm
Contact our law firm for legal advice.

Maybe we can argue that you fall under one of the exceptions listed above. Perhaps you have a valid concealed weapons permit.

Maybe we can argue that you were not in a public place as defined by law. Maybe you were on private property, or your vehicle was not parked on a public street that was easily assessable to the public.

Maybe we can argue that you are the victim of law enforcement officers' unlawful search and seizure. Suppose the gun was located and seized in an unconstitutional search. In that case, it could be ruled inadmissible in court, and the prosecutor might be forced to drop the charges.  

Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation via phone or fill out the contact form. Cron, Israels & Stark are based in Los Angeles, CA.

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