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Notice Of New Firearm And Ammunition Restrictions

December 30, 2015

Notice Of New Firearm And Ammunition Restrictions In California “School Zones” Beginning 2016

For many years, it has been generally unlawful under both California and federal law to possess a firearm – whether loaded or unloaded – in an area you know, or reasonably should know, is a “school zone.” [1] One of the exceptions has been for those with a license to carry a concealed firearm. [2] That will change somewhat on January 1, 2016, as a result of Senate Bill 707 (“SB 707”) authored by Lois Wolk (D). SB 707 also changes the law regarding possession of ammunition on “school grounds.” California gun owners should read the below material so they better understand the updated version of the Gun Free School Zone Act and can avoid accidentally violating the law.

New Firearm Restrictions

California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act defines a “school zone” as “an area in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school.” [3] Curiously, California does not require “school zones” to be marked,[4] so the 1,000-foot “school zone” border is often difficult to determine. To be on the safe side you should measure the 1,000 feet starting from the school’s perimeter, not its center-point. Similarly, the border of school “grounds” themselves may be difficult to define and you should consider any potential school property or public streets or sidewalks adjoining that property to be “school grounds.” Always err on the side of caution and assume “school zones” extend from the furthest measurable point of any potential school grounds. Without a California license to carry a concealed firearm, you should not be anywhere near a potential school zone with a firearm or ammunition, unless they are in a locked case and the firearm is unloaded.

The California Gun-Free School Zone Act (but not federal law) also generally prohibits possessing firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, at university or college campuses, as well as in any university or college building for student housing, teaching, research, or administration that is contiguous to the campus or that is clearly marked as such, even if off campus.[5] Either offense can be a felony, but possessing a loaded firearm has a potentially steeper sentence.[6]Because it may be unclear which areas are “contiguous” or what constitutes “clearly marked,” you should avoid entering university or college campuses or property with a firearm unless you are sure you are generally exempt from this prohibition. Asking ahead of time could avoid problems.

Before January 1, 2016, California law provided an exemption for persons with a valid license to carry a loaded concealed firearm from the prohibitions on carry in a K-12 school zone (including school grounds) as well as the prohibitions on carry on or in university or college campuses and buildings.[7] However, SB 707 removed the exemption for carry on school “grounds” and on or in university or college campuses and buildings. Persons with a valid license to carry are still exempt from the restrictions on carry in the school zone (1,000 feet from the perimeter) of the K-12 schools, but may not carry on school grounds (including K-12 as well as university or college campuses and buildings) unless they meet another applicable exemption. Note that there is an exception for unloaded firearms and ammunition in locked containers in your vehicle while on K-12 school “grounds” but not on college or university school “grounds.”

New Ammunition Restrictions

Federal law does not generally regulate the possession of ammunition on “school grounds.” However, California law prohibits the carrying of ammunition on “school grounds.”[8] While the term “school grounds” for the purposes of this section is not defined and is vague, you should assume that it includes any K-12, college, or university property.

Before January 1, 2016, California law provided an exemption for persons with a valid license to carry a loaded concealed firearm from the prohibition on possessing ammunition on “school grounds.” However, SB 707 removed the exemption for those with a license to carry and added the following new exemptions:

  • Any peace officer listed in P.C. sections 830.1, 830.2, or 830.33(a), whether active or honorably retired; or
  • Any other duly appointed peace officer; or
  • Any honorably retired peace officer listed in P.C. section 830.5(c); or
  • Any other honorably retired peace officer who during the course and scope of his or her appointment as a peace officer was authorized to, and did, carry a firearm; or
  • A person carrying ammunition or reloaded ammunition onto school grounds that is in a motor vehicle at all times and is within a “locked container”[9]or within the locked trunk of the vehicle.[10]

For further specific information about exceptions that may allow you to carry on K-12, college, or university campuses with a license to carry a concealed firearm, see “California Gun Laws” 3rd Edition by C.D. Michel (available through the CRPA) or for legal advice pertaining to your specific situation, please contact Michel & Associates, P.C. at http://michellawyers.com/.

 

Footnotes

[1] P.C. § 626.9(b); see 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(2)(A).
[2] P.C. § 626.9(l)(2015); see 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(2)(B)(ii).
[3] P.C. § 626.9(e)(1)
[4] P.C. § 626.9(k).
[5] Unlike “school zones,” which need not be marked as such, universities and colleges must “post a prominent notice at primary entrances on noncontiguous property [i.e., property not connected to the campus] stating that firearms are prohibited on that property.” P.C. § 626.9(h)-(i).
[6] P.C. § 626.9(h)-(i). This general prohibition is notwithstanding P.C. section 25605’s general exception to the firearm restriction in one’s residence. See People v. Anaim, 47 Cal. App. 4th 401 (1996) (depublished) (defendant violated the Gun-Free School Zone Act because he possessed a loaded firearm on university property even though the university-owned apartment complex was his residence). Post-Heller, this may change. But until it does, you cannot lawfully have a firearm in your residence if your residence is part of university property and marked as such.
[7] P.C. § 626.9(l) (2015).
[8] P.C. §§ 626.91, 30310.
[9] A “locked container” is “a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, keylock, combination lock, or similar locking device.” P.C. § 16850. However, the term “does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor vehicle.” P.C. § 16850.
[10] P.C. § 30310(b).

Disclaimer: The information contained in this memorandum has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information contained herein is not legal advice, should not to be acted on as such, may not be current, and is subject to change without notice. Michel & Associates, P.C., does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy or currency of the information contained in this memorandum.  Users of information from this memorandum do so at their own risk.  This memorandum does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Individual facts and circumstances may alter the conclusion(s) drawn. For legal advice consult an attorney.

Copyright © 2015 MICHEL & ASSOCIATES, P.C. All Rights Reserved. Republishing this document or any part thereof without permission is prohibited. Contact Michel & Associates, P.C. for permission to reprint this document.

Notice Of New Firearm And Ammunition Restrictions In California “School Zones” Beginning 2016

For many years, it has been generally unlawful under both California and federal law to possess a firearm – whether loaded or unloaded – in an area you know, or reasonably should know, is a “school zone.” [1] One of the exceptions has been for those with a license to carry a concealed firearm. [2] That will change somewhat on January 1, 2016, as a result of Senate Bill 707 (“SB 707”) authored by Lois Wolk (D). SB 707 also changes the law regarding possession of ammunition on “school grounds.” California gun owners should read the below material so they better understand the updated version of the Gun Free School Zone Act and can avoid accidentally violating the law.

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