Lawful way to carry while backpacking in California?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by westernrover, Apr 21, 2021.

  1. westernrover

    westernrover Member

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    I want to do some thru-hiking in California like the Pacific Crest and other trails that go through National Forests and National Parks. I've hiked these trails in the past (90's) when I was a California resident, but did not attempt to carry a firearm on which there was a blanket prohibition in National Parks until 2010. I live in another state now.

    I do not expect to carry concealed because I am not a resident and have no way to obtain a permit.

    I'm not intending to shoot or hunt anything. My only intention is to carry lawfully.

    I am aware of how to transport a firearm lawfully in California unloaded in a secure container other than the glovebox or center console.

    I do not intend to go near any occupied buildings or within 1000 feet of a school. This is strictly backcountry travel.

    I don't understand PC 26350. I think it means I cannot open-carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in National Parks.

    Am I right in understanding that I can lawfully transport an unloaded firearm (handgun) in a secure (locked) container in my backpack through National Parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia etc.), without going near any occupied buildings or school zones?

    Once I get to my wilderness campsite (not a campground), it would seem the state codes allow me to carry loaded and concealed just as if I were at my own house. I'm referring to CA Penal Code Sections 26055, 26383, and 25605.

    I know there is a relevant thread over on Calguns about this, but it's a bit overwhelming with 800 posts so far, and running almost 12 years now. I have read the updated first post and the tail end, but it's still confusing and I can't help but think that's the intention (of California).

    I believe it would be lawful for me to put my unloaded handgun and a separate loaded clip (yes, it's a clip not a magazine) in a zippered bag, lock the zippers tightly and carry that in my backpack. When I get to my temporary wilderness campsite I can lawfully remove the handgun, load it, and keep it concealed on my person as long as I am in the campsite. Am I mistaken about any of this?
     
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  2. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    OP, you are asking the questions to an audience of amateurs not laywers. Whatever advice you get hear is meaningless except if a qualified attorney provides an official option which he or she must defend if challenged. When you need a expert opinion consult an expert.

    That said I have consulted experts on the question because I wilderness hike/camp in both PA State Forests and National Forests. This is what I have been told by experts, but they will never defend you.

    In PA open carry of a firearm is legal, but there are restrictions about entering government buildings within the the state land. Open carrying a firearm on federal parks and forests is governed by federal law NOT state law. Generally you can open carry on federal parks and forests regardless of state laws. However, every federal park and forest some differences of rules.

    When going through a state into federal land you must understand that you have to comply with the state law until you cross over into the federal land when federal law applies. Federal law about guns in forests and parks can be found. At the websites off such places. It is legal gobblygook. Get on the the phone, get the ID of the person advising you, ask you questions and write down the answers. Your future depends upon it.
     
  3. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    Out of state. Maybe Arizona or Nevada
     
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  4. RETG

    RETG Member

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    DEFINE Federal parks. National Parks are Federal and you need to follow the laws of the state you are in when carrying a weapon. Basically, most National Parks are in one state, but not all are. If traveling in Yellowstone, you need to makes sure you are legal in MT, ID and WY. Although, ID recognizes all states' issued permits, not so sure about MT or WY.

    54 U.S. Code § 104906. Protection of right of individuals to bear arms
    (a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:

    ..........................
    (b) Protection of Right of Individuals To Bear Arms in System Units.—The Secretary shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm, including an assembled or functional firearm, in any System unit if—
    (1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and


    (2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the System unit is located.


    Bureau of Land management:
    43 CFR § 8365.1-7 - State and local laws.
    • CFR
    prev | next
    § 8365.1-7 State and local laws.
    Except as otherwise provided by Federal law or regulation, State and local laws and ordinances shall apply and be enforced by the appropriate State and local authorities. This includes, but is not limited to, State and local laws and ordinances governing:

    (a) Operation and use of motor vehicles, aircraft and boats;

    (b) Hunting and fishing;

    (c) Use of firearms or other weapons;

    (d) Injury to persons, or destruction or damage to property;

    (e) Air and water pollution;

    (f) Littering;

    (g) Sanitation;

    (h) Use of fire;

    (i) Pets;

    (j) Forest products; and

    (k) Caves.

    For example, if carrying Open on BLM lands in UT, you have no problem since Open carry is legal in UT (some strange regs if no permit, but primarily legal). If carrying concealed you do need a permit. NOTE: The permit thing changes in UT when the new permit less state carry law takes affect.


    I have also noted, but not sure if still in effect that some US forest do no allow the carry of a concealed handgun in a state if the state has passed a law making it illegal. ( Found this statement: There is no federal law prohibiting carry in national forests. States control the carrying of firearms in national forests in their state.) This information comes not so much from reading federal laws on US forests, but on a personal experience back in the late 90s in Pisgah NF in NC.When changing a flat tire on the side of the road, my coat slipped over my handgun and a FS Rangers stopped so see what the problem was. He noted the handgun and informed me that per NC law (at that time), made carrying a weapon in the NC national forests illegal. However, that changed when I pulled out my Federal ID, at which time he confirmed, I was not violating any state laws. But, in his defense, before handing over my ID for verification, he did not appear to be going to do anymore than inform me of the state law.
     
  5. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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  6. westernrover

    westernrover Member

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    I suppose I'm justified in asking for a full refund of everything I paid for these answers.
     
  7. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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  8. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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    You should ask the CA AG's office for clarification. Then hold on to that letter.
     
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  9. Quiet

    Quiet Member

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    Under CA laws/regulations...

    It is legal for a non-resident of CA to bring and possess a CA legal handgun into CA.
    ^CA legal handgun = handgun that is not considered a prohibited weapon (assault weapon, SBR, SBS, etc).

    It is not legal for non-exempt persons to bring large capacity (11+ rounds) magazines into CA.

    It is not legal to conceal carry anywhere in CA, unless you have a valid CA CCW permit.
    ^Exemptions for being in your own residence or on your own property that is not accessible to the public.

    It is not legal to open carry in public places in incorporated territory or in prohibited areas of unincorporated territory or on/along side any publically accessible freeway, highway, street, or road.
    ^Exemptions for being in your own residence or on your own property that is not accessible to the public.

    Unloaded handgun in a locked container and unloaded long gun in a locked container or encased, are generally exempted from CA carry laws.
    However, while transporting a firearm in this manner outside of a vehicle, the person transporting must be traveling directly to and from authorized locations.
    ^Example... residence to vehicle, vehicle to shooting range, shooting range to vehicle, vehicle to residence.

    This means it is legal to...
    1. Open or conceal carry inside your residence or temporary residence (hotel/motel room, cabin, tent, etc).
    2. Open or conceal carry on your property that is not accessible to the public.
    3. Open carry in areas of unincorporated territory that are legal to discharge a firearm.

    It is not legal to discharge a firearm inside a National Park in CA.
    Therefore, it is not legal to open carry a firearm inside a National Park in CA.

    Which means, while in a National Park in CA, it is legal for you to...
    1. Transport an unloaded handgun in a locked container inside your vehicle.
    1a. If you leave your handgun in your unattended vehicle, then it must be in a locked container that is hidden from plain sight or in the vehicle's trunk.
    2. Transport an unloaded handgun in a locked container, outside of your vehicle, directly to a location where you can legally possess the firearm.
    2a. Travel from your vehicle directly to your temporary residence and from your temporary residence directly to your vehicle.
    2b. The direct travel requirements prohibits hiking around (exploring) with an unloaded handgun in a locked container.
    3. Have access to or open/conceal carry a handgun inside your temporary residence (i.e. tent).
    3a. It is not legal to open/conceal carry outside of your temporary residence (i.e. campsite).
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
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  10. jstert

    jstert Member

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    https://www.alloutdoor.com/2019/09/16/legally-carry-concealed-firearm-california-without-permit/
    https://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/carrying-a-gun-while-fishing/
    http://www.norcalkayakanglers.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=j4v8vjrmn97bor5r38an9dv7a4&topic=54595.15

    it seems that california allows a sidearm under certain circumstances while engaged in fishing. if i were o.p., i would consider doing licensed fishing as part and parcel of my wilderness hiking, with a small semiauto pistol and a small lockable case being a part of my fishing hike kit.

    at one point, i regularly hiked hill trails in a n.e. state park that abutted an urban jungle. to deal with feral mammals (wild, abandoned dogs and drugged up humans) my ccw was a permitted naa guardian 32acp. the all steel guardian is unobtrusive and sturdy, and 32acp ammo has a bit of oomph yet is small enough to carry some reloads.
     

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    Last edited: May 9, 2021
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  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    It has been legal to carry a firearm in a National Park since Bush Jr. was president. As long as you have a permit recognized by the state where the National Park is. You cannot carry inside any structure inside the park, but outdoors is fine.

    How that applies to California I have no idea.
     
  12. Quiet

    Quiet Member

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    If you have a valid CA fishing license...
    ... it is legal to conceal carry an unloaded handgun while traveling to and from your fishing site.
    ... it is legal to conceal carry an unloaded handgun while fishing in an area that prohibits the discharge of firearms.
    ... it is legal to conceal carry a loaded handgun while fishing in an area that does not prohibit the discharge of firearms.

    It is legal to open carry a loaded firearm or an unloaded firearm in an area where it is legal to discharge firearms.
    It is legal to open carry an unloaded antique firearm in a non-prohibited area.
    It is legal to open carry a loaded antique firearm in an area where it is legal to discharge firearms.

    Therefore...

    This would be CA legal method of carrying, as a person with a valid CA fishing license and fishing in a place where it is legal to discharge firearms:
    1. Exit residence and foot travel to vehicle = unloaded in locked container.
    2. While in vehicle = unloaded in locked container.
    3. Exit vehicle and foot travel to fishing site = unloaded conceal carry.
    4. At fishing site, while fishing = loaded conceal carry.
    5. Foot travel from fishing site to vehicle = unloaded conceal carry.
    6. While in vehicle = unloaded in locked container.
    7. Exit vehicle and foot travel to residence = unloaded in locked container.

    This would be CA legal method of carrying, as a person with a valid CA fishing license and fishing in a place where it is illegal to discharge firearms:
    1. Exit residence and foot travel to vehicle = unloaded in locked container.
    2. While in vehicle = unloaded in locked container.
    3. Exit vehicle and foot travel to fishing site = unloaded conceal carry.
    4. At fishing site, while fishing = unloaded conceal carry.
    5. Foot travel from fishing site to vehicle = unloaded conceal carry.
    6. While in vehicle = unloaded in locked container.
    7. Exit vehicle and foot travel to residence = unloaded in locked container.
     
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  13. webrx
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    webrx Contributing Member

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    This is why when I have to drive into CA, I only carry a knife and a walking stick, and leave my guns at home.

    Actually, that is not 100% true, when we camp we do have a weapon in the trailer.

    d
     
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