California is renowned for its strict and uncompromising firearm laws. Indeed, some have quipped that there is a special door at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for filing challenges to gun law restrictions. Cities and municipalities in California likewise have the ability to regulate firearms, and Los Angeles is no different. In addition to state laws, this is done through county codes or city ordinances. Ignorance of the law is not generally a defense and all firearm owners in Los Angeles need to be aware of these local laws to avoid potential fines and even possible imprisonment.
Discharging Within City Limits and Unincorporated Territories
Similar to other large cities in California, Los Angeles prohibits discharging firearms pretty much anywhere within city limits, with the exception of rifle or target ranges. This includes, but is not limited to, in the general direction of any house or other place where people are likely to live or any public highway, road, street, way, park, or premise. Discharging firearms in nearly all unincorporated territories lying within the boundaries of most districts or areas of Los Angeles is prohibited. In effect, this encompasses nearly all beaches, hiking and riding trails, lakes, reservoirs, canyons, ranches, and mountains, although there are a few areas within Los Angeles country where discharging firearms or hunting is permitted. For example, one may not discharge a firearm within Angeles National Forest, other than for limited hunting purposes or at target shooting areas designated by the United States Forest Service.
Gun Sales in Los Angeles County
The sale or transfer of firearms and ammunition is closely regulated in Los Angeles County. Both are unlawful to sell or transfer on any “county property,” which includes all public buildings and the surrounding grounds owned or leased by the county in the unincorporated and incorporated portions of the county. For example, the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in the city of Pomona is off limits for the sale or transfer of ammunition or firearms.
Los Angeles also strictly regulates the use, possession, and storage of firearms within city limits. While you can carry your firearm at home, once you store it out of your control, it is against the law for any person to keep a firearm within a residence unless the firearm is stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock that has been approved by the California Department of Justice. This restriction, of course, is designed to impede the ability of the owner of the firearm to readily—that is quickly—access (and use in self-defense) the firearm by requiring the guns to be unloaded and secured in a locked container.
Self-Defense in the City
Finally, the use of force in defense of self or others is governed on a state level through the California Penal Code and California judicial decisions. Whether the incident occurs in a large city like Los Angeles or a rural area of the state, the law is generally the same.
These regulations and laws imposing stringent requirements on gun owners in California are strict and can be confusing, and for that reason we urge you all to review and familiarize yourself with your local city, town, or county ordinances. Local laws in large California cities tend to be more restrictive than in the more rural areas of the state. For any questions regarding self-defense in California’s cities, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.