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Handgun while camping in CA?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Jon_Snow, Aug 9, 2010.

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  1. Jon_Snow

    Jon_Snow Member

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    My friends and I are heading out backpacking in the Sierra National Forest this coming weekend and I'd like to bring my 1911. I plan on open carrying the whole time and keeping it loaded. I haven't kept up with any of the recent changes to carry laws outside of cities though. By my understanding, it's legal to carry a loaded gun in a campsite and while traveling to and from it, but I'd like to get a second opinion. We won't be crossing any state or national parks and I'll unload once I get back to the car. Anyone see a problem with this?
     
  2. Cearbhall

    Cearbhall Member

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    Better be careful. You can have a loaded gun at Your campsite (temporary residence) in California, but to go hiking with a loaded gun could cause trouble, unless you are legally hunting.
     
  3. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Illegal generally. You cannot go to and from the campsite with a loaded gun.
    You may have one with a valid hunting license while hunting an animal that is legal to hunt, does not require a game tag you don't have, and is allowed to be hunted with a given capacity and a given caliber.
    This obviously only applies where hunting is even legal, unlike many state and national parks. Various backpacking trails also transition from national forest to national park land.

    You may have it loaded at the campsite because it counts as a temporary residence, but once you pack up to hike it has to legally be stored unloaded in a locked container.
    Technically you could also legally open carry it unloaded since you won't be going within 1,000 feet of any school zones.
    But if you do then the loaded magazines must be carried openly as well, or locked up. Because when you have access to the gun the loaded magazines count as a concealed gun (but not a loaded gun.)
    However that is as ready as you can have it in between campsites if not legally hunting. Unloaded and open carried with a magazine at the ready.
    If you have it loaded then it would be a loaded weapon in public, PC12031.

    Also be careful, the illegal growing areas, meth labs, and human predators do not follow these laws.
    The wildlife will also not wait for you to load your weapon.
     
  4. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    I believe cottontail rabbit season opens July 1, and rabbit requires no tags, just a basic hunting license. They live all over the state. They can be shot with just about any weapon. You're almost always hunting rabbit. Jackrabbbits are open all year, AFAIK. That's even better.

    Even if you're hunting something else, you're hunting rabbit. Ask the guy I know who got a $300 ticket for not having a $7 upland stamp when he said he was hunting quail -- but hadn't seen or shot any. He just didn't know he needed the stamp, and said he was hunting quail.

    So, in California, you're hunting rabbit.

    Beware of no-lead hunting zones, though.
     
  5. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    [​IMG]

    I couldn't resist.
     
  6. Jon_Snow

    Jon_Snow Member

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    Zoogster, I thought that it was only illegal to carry a loaded gun in 'prohibited areas' which include almso the entire state except the national forest AKA boonies. I called the CA DOJ firearms division and they told me that it was up to the ranger (NOT a re-assuring answer form someone whose job it is to know the law). I think I'm going to play it safe and go with unloaded open carry while on the trail and just have it loaded in the campsite. That brings up the question of where the boundaries of the campsite are. We're not staying in an official campsite, just a clearing somewhere, so there are no clearly defined borders. Do I need to unload if I'm walking 100 yards away from the tent to make like a bear? Also, what ever happened to the attempt to make open carry illegal? I haven't followed up on it as well as I should.

    Armedbear, that sounds like a good idea, I just don't know if I'll be able to get a license in time. We'll see. At the very least I'll keep it in mind for next year's trip.

    ThePunisher'sArmory, comments like that make me wish I just posted at calguns instead. Yes, we can have handguns, no we don't have to give blood, hair or DNA samples. Not that I'm defending Ca's gun laws or other nanny-state tendencies, they are a blight on this otherwise great state, but hyperbole like that serves no purpose.
     
  7. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    WOW! Talke about bad advice... IT'S A FEDERAL PARK.

    Sierra National Forest
    1600 Tollhouse Road
    Clovis, CA 93611-0532
    (559)297-0706
    Placed under Federal protection and management in 1893, when the area was designated the Sierra Forest Reserve, these lands have met public needs for wood, water and outdoor recreation for more than a century. Today, the Forest's many rugged wilderness areas makes it one of the most popular National Forests in the United States.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sierra/

    It's FEDERAL Land? I'd give them a call, and find out what law governs on this land. Also keep in mind that, if like Ocean Beach in San Francisco, it IS FEDERAL LAND, and park, your violations of the law will end you up in FEDERAL COURT. It is a MUCH more serious place to end up then our state's courts, been in both, and, well, state court is a walk in the park, in comparison.
    ;-)


    IIRC
     
  8. Jon_Snow

    Jon_Snow Member

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    ThePunisher'sArmory, sorry, I didn't realize you were joking. Comments by other members in other threads recently have me a little sore on the subject. Some people seem to think that mentioning guns in CA gets you hauled of to a gulag. I'm sure some of our legislators wished that was true but there are a ton of californians fighting to make sure that never happens. In hindsight I should have been a little more generous in my earlier response.

    I don't think the Rangers are making things up as they go, a buddy of mine is a Ranger on the central coast, but I was disappointed with the general lack of knowledge on the part of the CA DOJ. Again, isn't it their job to know these things?
     
  9. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    NOT on Federal land.
     
  10. Diggers

    Diggers Member

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    Is not a national forrest federal land? There is a difference between national park and national forrest land.

    What about having a fishing licence? I've read that secition in CA law that says you can CC if you are "fishing" or going to or coming from fishing...just like the hunting thing but no need to worry about what is in season, right caliber, hunting stamps and so on.

    http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/forms/pdf/Cfl2006.pdf
    That is from page 32 in above link. Link is from CA fish and game web site.

    If your in a national forrest on a backpacking trip the odds of you seeing a Ranger is like one out of infinity btw.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  11. razorback2003

    razorback2003 Member

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    I used to carry a 22 pistol or 9mm with me when hiking in areas legal for hunting year round species with a 22 or 9mm pistol...basically pests....surely there is something where you will be going that is year round that you can get a hunting license for. I really wasn't hunting, but I did have the handgun on me as a 'hunting device' (Arkansas) and not carrying as a weapon (before getting my concealed handgun license). I always had a hunting license. Wild hogs are also year round in Arkansas and I could have gotten away for carrying a centerfire handgun too. Are hogs year round in California? Can you shoot them with a centerfire handgun?

    I did have to carry a handgun with a minimum 4 inch barrel when in Arkansas for it to be a legal hunting device. I live in Tennessee now and Tennessee has a minimum barrel length of 4 inches for CENTERFIRE handguns for big game like hogs, deer, and bear.

    Hike in a place, if possible, where there is some sort of critter that you can shoot. Get a hunting license. Make sure your hunting device is legal in the area you are hiking, such as make sure you are not in an archery only or shotgun only zone. If you are of the age to need hunter ed, get that too. Most states require it if born after a certain year. You can rig it where you can camp in the right National Forest Land and carry your handgun while 'hunting'/hiking. No one can argue with a hunting license, hunter ed card, and hunting device during the appropriate season that you won't pop a wild hog or coyote.
     
  12. rtpzwms

    rtpzwms Member

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    Jon_Snow
    If your going "off trail" and not likely to run into JQP I don't think you have much to worry about. I've been "off trail" more than once and very occasionally been visited by rangers that took the time to walk out to see how we were doing. I've had small cooking fires during no fire times and never had any trouble with the rangers. I believe it you treat it like a tool and don't play with it and you are away from JQP you'll be fine. Just don't put it on in a parking lot. Wait until you are "off trail" for a while
     
  13. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    Wow. When I was stationed at Travis AFB back in the early 80s we used to go out to a place we called Sewer Ponds- an abandoned sewage treatment plant out near Vacaville somewhere, we'd spend the afternoon and evening shooting jackrabbits with our .22 rifles. Young and naive, we never knew what the laws were, and pretty much defied the Air Force rules we did know about guns in the dorms. We would also go shoot cans out the back gate near the golf course along some old railroad tracks. One day a police woman, very nervous, jacked us all up because some asshats had (in the past) shot up the insulators on the high tension lines. She ran all our names and left- no drama other than a pat-down. Different times I guess.
     
  14. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    Mainsail. Different planet then Kali today.

    I did pretty much the same. Shot at the police range every other day, at least 2 hours a day, for five years, by myself or with one friend. If the LEO's were using it, we kept on driving.

    Also shot at the closed range up by Lockheed, during the week, when no one was there.

    Good news is around here we are getting all our wildlife back, somehow depleted between 70 and 2000.
     
  15. KodeFore

    KodeFore Member

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    I'm not for sure on this, so please check further, but I THINK that if you open carry, you need to have an empty mag in it so that can be a considered a"complete" gun.

    The hunting rabbits thing looks like a great idea .
     
  16. KodeFore

    KodeFore Member

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    I'm not for sure on this, so please check further, but I THINK that if you open carry, you need to have an empty mag in it so that can be a considered a"complete" gun.

    The hunting rabbits thing looks like a great idea .
     
  17. Librarian

    Librarian Member

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    Not sure where you heard that, but it is inaccurate. (The discussion runs into pages - see this article at the Calguns Foundation Wiki for what seems to me to be the source of that 'complete gun' thing. And the rest of you folks be glad you don't live where such an explanation is necessary!)

    LEO can stop and check if the handgun is loaded, mag in or not.
     
  18. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Partially true in unincorporated areas.
    But only partially because even many such areas have an ordinance against discharge of firearms.

    If you look up the definition of 'prohibited area' as it applies in PC12031 it is:

    (f) As used in this section, "prohibited area" means any place
    where it is unlawful to discharge a weapon.

    This covers even much of the national forest.
    All it takes is the most minor of local or county ordinances outlawing the discharge of firearms and it triggers that statute, even if the local ordinance is punished by a $5 fine.

    For example if you live in a county that says it is unlawful to discharge a firearm within 100 yards or 300 yards of a structure, then just possessing the loaded gun within 1oo or 300 yards of a structure becomes a crime under pc 12031.
    That many defined yards around every single structure becomes a "prohibited place" as defined in that statute.

    Similarly many places have rules against discharge of a firearm within X yards of a road. As a result it becomes illegal to even possess a loaded firearm within X yards of a road because that becomes a "prohibited place" as defined by PC12031.
    Basically any place you cannot legally shoot the gun for recreation outside of things like hunting is a "prohibited place".


    Hunting has its own exemption. For example I have lived in areas where hunting was done locally all the time. Yet a local ordinance prohibited discharge of firearms. Legal hunting while following the rules of hunting was exempt under the law, but the legal hunting was taking place in what is defined by PC12031 as a "prohibited place".
    Meaning just a regular Joe not hunting and possessing a loaded gun in the same place would have been in violation of PC12031.



    While hunting with a hunting license may look like a decent alternative to being disarmed, it also comes with all the rules of hunting to be legal, which are far greater than those typically encountered in defensive laws.
    So it becomes even more complicated.
    For example in California hunting after dark is illegal. This means possessing a gun for the purpose of hunting would also be illegal.
    Some types of caliber and capacity restrictions exist for certain animals, and others take certain tags.
    It also makes you subject to all the game laws because even if you have no intention of actually hunting or shooting an animal, you are officially hunting and that is the only legal reason you are in legal possession of a loaded gun.


    It gets complicated and varies by county and unincorporated and incorporated regions of various national forest.
    So it would be misleading to even state a solid legal means to possess a loaded gun as it varies too much by locale.
    It is too varied to generalize for the entire state.

    For example let us take Riverside:

    As you see handguns and rifles and shotguns cannot be 300 yards from certain things. While other things handguns and rifles cannot be within 300 yards of, but shotguns can be within 150 yards of them.
    Because remember a "prohibited place" as described in PC12031 (statute against having loaded gun) is any place it is not legal to discharge that weapon.
    That means some areas are prohibited areas for rifles and handguns and not shotguns, and some are prohibited places for all.

    But notice it said "or within 300 yards of any park, public
    campgrounds, or state riding and hiking trail,"
    Since it is illegal to discharge within 300 yards of a hiking trail under that local regulation, it becomes illegal to possess it loaded within 300 yards of a trail too.

    Remember the restriction may only say you cannot discharge it, but PC12031 says any place you cannot discharge it is the definition of a "prohibited place", so you cannot legally possess it loaded where you cannot discharge it.

    It would also become illegal to possess a loaded gun from "one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before
    sunrise of the following day" because if it becomes illegal to discharge it then it becomes illegal to possess it under PC12031 (unless exempt doing something like hunting which is illegal after dark anyways.)
    So even though that local rule is just repeating a state hunting rule, because they include it that also becomes a "prohibited area" of an unincorporated location under PC12031 for non hunters to possess a loaded gun even in the middle of the forest.




    I just grabbed the first county I could find the yardage on and the type of restrictions that define what constitutes a violation in a "prohibited place" to show you examples.
    But most counties and local unincorporated areas have a different yardage or percentage or fraction of a mile, as well as define additional areas you can and cannot "discharge" (and by conclusion even legally possess loaded as defined by PC12031 as a "prohibited place") a firearm.
    They are different in every county, and even at the local level. Some unincorporated areas have local ordinances against discharge in the entire area. Making the whole place a "prohibited place" exempt where otherwise exempt.
    While incorporated areas are automatically even more restrictive under state law.
    What this means is even on some isolated trails in the middle of nowhere in a national forest (national and state parks are much more restrictive) or on BLM land, or places you will walk by on such trails it can be illegal to possess a loaded gun.
    Like walking say 300 yards from the wrong thing that you did not even know would be around the next corner.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  19. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Now let us check out San Bernardino County as another example:


    This would mean if you were hiking on some remote trail with a loaded gun without a hunting license trying to stay within the limits set forth by PC12031, you could not go within 150 yards of a tent!
    150 yards around any random tent in that county would become a "prohibited place" under PC12031.
    Do you really think you can hike on a trail without encountering some random tent? In forest and outdoor areas you often cannot even see 150 yards in a direction?

    Violating such restrictions and triggering the statute can result in serious penalties and even strip you of your "right" to bear arms for life.
     
  20. Coolbreeze8804

    Coolbreeze8804 Member

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    Really? Because it is "illegal to discharge" it automatically becomes "illegal to possess"?

    This part I don't get. (the only reason that I ask is because Dad still lives down there, and frequently carries because "it's his right to protect himself, and the rest of the details are thier damned problem". ) ugh.... I REALLY don't want to spend my life savings getting him out of jail for carrying his old .45...
     
  21. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    I'd like to see case law on this?
     
  22. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    Illegal to possess in the context of carrying it loaded.

    That is how PC12031 defines a prohibited place in an unincorporated area.


    There is various exemptions like on private property (if not "open to the public" as defined in cases like Strider), while engaged in lawful hunting, etc These exemptions allow you to possess a loaded weapon even where they would typically be illegal to discharge.
    But in general if you would be breaking a law by setting up a target and firing the gun in a given location, then it is illegal to even have it loaded in that same public location.
    Homes, place of business, temporary residences, etc are exempt, as are people engaging in lawful hunting, and a couple other things (but not just hiking or backpacking.)

    Oh Diggers said:

    PC12025 deals with having a handgun concealed, not having it loaded.
    You can be exempt from concealed restrictions in certain activities and still be in violation of having it loaded under PC12031 if not meeting a PC12031 exemption.

    PC12031 is the one that deals with having a loaded firearm, PC12025 just deals with having it concealed (loaded or unloaded.)
    PC12025 also only deals with handguns (and some other things like AOWs) not rifles or shotguns, so the requirements listed in it don't even apply to long guns.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  23. whalerman

    whalerman member

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    Maybe we're getting to a point where you should just go camping and hiking with no gun and take your chances with threats from wildlife or criminal behavior. It looks like our politicians have looked out for us pretty well. We should have put up more of a fight for our rights, and voted more often. It gets a wee bit pathetic when some guy asks a perfectly sane question about protecting himself while out in the wilderness and it requires pages of legal opinion in an attempt to support him doing so. Give it up. We've lost it.
     
  24. ArtP

    ArtP Member

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    I camp in California too and have had to familiarize myself with these laws. If nothing else they're highly confusing and even LE isn't fully aware and at times can make unwarranted arrests. Before I chime in here with what I know, I will say the best source for the information you're after is a site called calguns.net. It's much like THR, only focused on CA.

    Here is an excellent post that tried to make as much light as possible from the confusing laws:

    http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=186457

    A summary of what I know follows. You can open loaded carry anywhere shooting is allowed and at your campsite. Shooting is not allowed with 150 yards of a structure or a *different* camp, on or across water. Shooting on or across a road is also illegal, but can be done a short distance off the road (150 yd does not apply). So running to the bathroom while OLC in a campground is illegal, so is walking across a road - technically.

    Different parks have different rules, so you must check city, county and state regs. There is also another rule that says you can't be negligent when you shoot, and if you ask me that's a setup for LE to use when nothing else fits.

    Some bad information that is floating around: A loaded mag is NOT considered a weapon or a gun and doesn't constitute anything. In fact you can transport a gun in a locked case with a loaded magazine right next to it in the same case, long as they're not touching. Some cops aren't clear on the loaded mag rules and bad arrests have happened.

    There is a carry rule for actively hunting or to/from hunting. I'm not positive, but I believe that rule lets you concealed carry under those circumstances. The link above will explain it.

    Good luck and don't lose your rights.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2010
  25. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    The distances change county to county Art P which I demonstrated by citing two of them.

    Some are 300 yards or more while others are less.

    Art P said:
    A loaded handgun mag is nothing if the gun is locked up, but it is something if the gun is not.
    Case law basically says that the magazine is considered a concealed handgun if you conceal it while also having immediate use of the handgun.
    So for example if you legally open carry unloaded, or legally have the handgun sitting next to you outside a case, and you have a concealed magazine the magazine can be counted as a concealed handgun in violation pf PC12025 if you don't have a concealed carry weapon license.
    Open carrying unloaded and have a magazine in your pocket? Criminal violation of PC12025.


    However without immediate access to the gun the magazine no longer counts as a concealed gun if it is concealed.
    The loaded and detached magazine never counts as a loaded gun under PC12031, but can count as a concealed gun under PC12025 in the above circumstances.

    This is based on case law (where I believe the court got the interpretation wrong, but it is the prevailing law of the land since) and is the current legal situation.
     
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