Penal Code Section 171c – Bringing Loaded Firearms And Dangerous Weapons Into State Capitol and Legislative Offices1

Loaded Firearms (Penal Code Section 171c(a)(1))

It is illegal for any person to bring to, or possess a loaded firearm in any of the following locations:

  • The State Capitol;
  • Any legislative office;
  • Any office of the Governor or other constitutional officer;
  • Any hearing room which which any committee of the Senate or Assembling is conducting a hearing;
  • The grounds of the State Capitol bounded by 10th, L, 15th, and N Streets in the City of Sacramento.

Punishment – Loaded Firearms (Section 171c(a)(1))

If a person brings a loaded firearm into the one of the above-listed areas, he or she may be punished in the following manner:

    • By a misdemeanor, a county jail sentence of up to one year and a $1,000 fine;
    • By a felony punishable by (a) probation and up to 364 days in a county jail, or by (b) a felony jail sentence served in a county jail of 16 months, 2, or 3 years.2

“Loaded” Defined

A firearm is deemed to be loaded if ammunition is in found in the immediate possession of the armed individual.7

Exceptions – Loaded Firearms

Exceptions to Penal Code Section 171c(a)(1) violations:

  • Peace officers;
  • Retired peace officers authorized to carry concealed a concealed weapon;
  • Full-time paid peace officer of another state or the federal government while carrying out official duties while in California;
  • Any person summoned by a peace officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while he or she is actually engaged in assisting the officer.
  • A person holding a valid license to carry a firearm who has been granted permission by the Chief Sergeants at Arms of the State Assembly and the State Senate to possess a concealed weapon upon a protected premises.
  • Any person who has permission granted by the Chief Sergeants at Arms of the State Assembly and the Strate Senate to possess a weapon upon protected premises.

Firearms (Unloaded), and Other Deadly or Dangerous Items (Pen. Code Section 171c(a)(2))

It is a misdemeanor to bring any firearm or certain deadly weapons onto the following government property:

  • The State Capitol
  • Any legislative office
  • Any office of the Governor or another constitutional officer;
  • Any hearing room in which any committee of the Senate or Assembly is conducting a hearing;
  • Upon the grounds of the State Capitol which is bounded by 10th, L, 15th, and N Streets in the City of Sacramento.

The following weapons are prohibited in these places:

    • Any firearm;
    • Any deadly weapon described in Penal Code Section 21510 (switchblade knife)3 and 165904.
    • Any knife with a blade length in excess of four inches, the blade of which is fixed or capable of being fixed in an unguarded position by the use of one or two hands;
    • Any unauthorized tear gas weapons;
    • Any stun gun as defined in Penal Code Section 244.5.
    • Any instrument that expels a metal projective, such as a BB or pellet, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun or paint gun;
    • Any ammunition as defined in Penal Code Sections 16150 and 16650;
    • Any explosive as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 120006.

A person may only be prosecuted under Section 171c(b)(2) if the area is posted with a statement providing reasonable notice that prosecution may result from possessing any of the above-listed items.5

Sources Cited / Notes

1 This blog is for informational purposes only. You should contact a competent criminal defense attorney immediately if you are charged with any violation of law. California firearm and weapons laws are constantly changing and subject to interpretation by peace officers and prosecutors. Carrying any variety of weapon in California could subject you to criminal liability.
2 Penal Code Section 1170(h).
3 Penal Code Section 21510 prohibits the carrying of a switchblade knife with a blade of two or more inches in length.
4 Penal Code Section 16590 defines “generally prohibited weapons.” The list of prohibited weapons includes: air gauge knives; ammunition containing flechette darts; ballistic knives; belt buckle knives; exploding bullets; camouflaged firearms; cane guns; cane swords; concealed dirk or daggers; concealed explosive substances; a firearm not immediately recognizable as a firearm; large capacity magazines; leaded cane; billy club; blackjack; sandbag; sand club; sap; slingshot; metal knuckles; metal military practice hand grenade; multiburst trigger activator; nunchaku; shobi-zue; short barreled rifle; short-barreled shotgun; shuriken; unconventional pistol defined by Section 31500; undetectable firearms; wallet guns; writing pen knife; and zip guns.
5 Pen. Code Section 171c(a)(2).
6 Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 12000, “explosives” means any substance, a combination of substances, the primary or common purpose of which is detonation or rapid combustion, and which is capable of a relatively instantaneous or rapid release of gas and heat, or any substance, the primary purpose of which, when combined with others, is to form a substance capable of a relatively instantaneous or rapid release of gas and heat. “Explosives” includes, but is not limited to, any explosives as defined in Section 841 of Title 18 of the United States Code and published pursuant to Section 555.23 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and any of the following: dynamite, nitroglycerine, picric acid, lead azide, fulminate of mercury, black powder, smokeless powder, propellant explosives, detonating primers, blasting caps, or commercial boosters. (See Health and Safety Code Section 12000 for further detail)
7Penal Code Section 171e.