A national gun rights organization warned in a public advisory Monday those headed to or through the Golden State with firearms could face prosecution.
The Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation contends in their first-ever travel advisory that gun laws as they stand in California are very different from the rest of the country, and could land some in hot water.
“Right now, I wouldn’t suggest to any gun owner that they even travel through the state, much less to it as their final destination,” said Alan Gottlieb, SAF’s executive vice president.
One sticking point for Gottlieb is the fact that the state with the largest population in the country refuses to recognize concealed carry permits and licenses issued in other states. Even permit holders from other neighboring states, such as Nevada and Oregon, cannot legally carry a firearm while visiting California.
“If you are licensed to carry in your home state,” Gottlieb said, “that license is not recognized in California. It doesn’t matter how many background checks you’ve gone through or whether you took a gun safety course.”
In fact, it’s hard for Californians to get carry permits as well. While police chiefs and sheriffs across the state may issue CCWs at their discretion to adult applicants with a clean record and no federal prohibitions against possessing a firearm, only about 80,000 active licenses are in circulation. Some agencies arbitrarily refuse to grant applications for permits, a controversial practice upheld in challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A bid to bring the recognition to all concealed carry permits nationwide is underway at the federal level but has so far been sidelined from progressing out of committee despite heavy sponsorship from Republican lawmakers and pre-election support from President Trump.
The state is also one of five that does not allow for the legal open carry of a firearm, though at least two federal lawsuits are seeking to repeal the ban.
“You could be prosecuted for having a gun for personal protection, or you might get killed because you didn’t,” Gottlieb said. “By not going to California, the life you save may be your own.”
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s annual Gun Law Scorecard rankings has placed California at the top for strong gun laws every year they have conducted the rankings, consistently awarding the state an “A.”