How to Obtain a Gun License in California

How to Obtain a Gun License in California

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In the state of California, residents may be issued a concealed weapons permit (also known as a CCW permit) by their local sheriff's office or police department. Prior to obtaining a CCW, individuals must meet a wide array of requirements. Applicants must complete a training course offered by a licensed firearms instructor that teaches gun safety, laws pertaining to firearms in the state of California and the proper use of a firearm. Applicants are subject to a background check and may be required to complete a psychiatric evaluation, as California requires that all concealed weapons permit holders demonstrate good moral character. If you have been convicted of a crime, contact your local sheriff's office or police department to determine your eligibility for a concealed weapons permit or gun license.

Items you will need

  • California driver's license

  • Birth Certificate

  • 3 letters of recommendation

  • Military discharge forms

  • 2 passport photos

  • 2 recent utility bills

Download the Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Application from your local sheriff's office or police department's website. Alternatively you may pick up an application from the patrol station.

Read the application instructions, requirements and restrictions listed on the application carefully. Complete the application in full using only black ink and attach copies of all required documents. Once complete, return the application to the sheriff's department in person, along with a money order or cashier's check in the amount of the application fee, which varies by county.

Call the telephone number listed on the application to schedule an interview with the CCW unit of your local sheriff's office or police department. The interview is used to determine whether you posses good cause to carry a concealed weapon. Bring a second money order or cashier's check in the amount specified by the CCW unit when the interview is set up.

Go to the interview and bring a copy of your birth certificate; California driver's license; copies of two of your most recent utility bills; three letters of character reference including the writer's name, address and telephone number; military discharge forms if applicable and two recent passport photos.

Register for and complete a firearm safety course, taught by a licensed firearm instructor, if you are approved following your interview with the CCW unit. Many of sheriff's offices and police departments throughout California offer a firearm safety course, or can direct you to a licensed and reputable instructor.

Return to the sheriff's office or police department to be fingerprinted and entered into the Live Scan fingerprint database.

Contact the CCW unit again to register to be qualified to use your personal weapon by the sheriff's department. Once you have qualified, you will receive your permit in the mail.


  • California is not a "right to carry" state, meaning that applicants must provide valid reasoning or "good cause" for needing to carry a concealed weapon. For example, if an attempt to do great bodily harm has been made on the applicant and it can be proven, this could potentially satisfy the good cause requirement.
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