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Penal Code 16520 PC | Definition of a Firearm

Penal Code 16520 PC – Definition of a Firearm in California

Hey y’all! Let’s talk about what California considers a “firearm” under the law. This is important to know because there are a bunch of laws about who can own guns, sell guns, carry guns, etc. The legal definition of a firearm is found in California Penal Code Section 16520. Let’s break it down!

What is Considered a Firearm?

According to PC 16520, a firearm is “a device, designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel, a projectile by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion.”

This basically means any gun that shoots bullets or other projectiles using an explosion or combustion as the power source. Some common examples of firearms include:

  • Handguns
  • Pistols
  • Revolvers
  • Rifles
  • Shotguns

The definition also includes the frame or receiver of a firearm weapon. So if you have just part of a gun, that can count as a firearm too.

Here’s another interesting one – rockets, rocket launchers, and similar devices are considered firearms under California law if they contain explosives or incendiary material. Even if they are designed for like, emergency signaling purposes, they are still firearms.

Exceptions – What Isn’t Considered a Firearm

There are a couple exceptions to the firearm definition in PC 16520:

  • Antique firearms – if they are unloaded
  • Destructive devices – things like bombs or grenades possessed by law enforcement/military

Also, BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, and airsoft guns don’t count as firearms under California law. That’s because they use compressed air instead of explosions/combustion to shoot projectiles.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Firearm Ownership Laws in California

Now that we know what counts as a firearm, let’s talk about who can and can’t own guns in California.

You can legally own a gun in California if:

  • You are not a convicted felon
  • You don’t have any restraining orders against you
  • You are not addicted to any narcotics
  • You don’t have 2 or more convictions for Penal Code 417 – brandishing a weapon
  • You don’t have any convictions for certain misdemeanor offenses, like domestic violence
  • You have a valid Handgun Safety Certificate

You also have to wait 10 days and pass a background check before receiving a gun you purchase. And you have to store your firearms properly and securely.

Some people are prohibited from owning guns in California. That includes:

  • Convicted felons
  • Anyone addicted to narcotics
  • People convicted of certain violent misdemeanors
  • Anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility

There is also an “assault weapons” ban in California. Penal Code 30600 makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute, transport, import, sell, or possess an assault weapon or .50 BMG rifle.

Selling Firearms in California

To legally sell a gun in California, you need a valid firearms dealer license. This applies to selling, leasing, or transferring firearms. If you sell guns without a license, you can be charged with a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 26500.

Carrying Firearms in California

California also has laws about carrying firearms in public places:

  • Penal Code 25850 – It is a misdemeanor to carry a loaded firearm in public
  • Penal Code 26350 – It is a misdemeanor to openly carry an unloaded handgun in public

There are some exceptions – like if you have a valid concealed carry permit. But in general, you can’t just walk around in public with a loaded or unloaded gun without facing criminal charges.

Sentencing Enhancements for Firearm Crimes

If you use a firearm while committing another crime, that can lead to harsher punishments. For example, armed robbery or assault with a deadly weapon may carry longer sentences than the non-armed version of those crimes. And using a gun in connection with a felony can turn a misdemeanor charge into a felony.

Criminal Charges Involving Firearms

Some other criminal charges related to firearms include:

  • Penal Code 25400 – Carrying a concealed firearm
  • Penal Code 29800 – Felon or addict in possession of a firearm
  • Penal Code 30600 – Possession of an assault weapon
  • Penal Code 417 – Brandishing a firearm
  • Penal Code 246 – Shooting at an inhabited dwelling

As you can see, the penalties for firearm crimes are no joke! If you’ve been charged with a gun-related offense, it’s really important to talk to a criminal defense attorney right away.

Legal Defenses Against Firearm Charges

If you’ve been accused of a crime involving a firearm, a lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed by arguing:

  • You were falsely accused / mistaken identity
  • The item doesn’t meet the legal definition of a firearm
  • You had a valid permit for the firearm
  • You had no knowledge the firearm was present

An experienced attorney can advise you on the best defense strategy for your specific charges.

Get Legal Help Today

I hope this overview was helpful in explaining California’s definition of a firearm and the related criminal laws. Possessing or using guns improperly can result in severe penalties, so make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner. If you’ve been charged with a firearm crime, don’t go it alone – speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away to protect your future.

Stay safe out there folks! Let me know if you have any other legal questions.

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

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ELIZABETH GARVEY

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CLAIRE BANKS

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RAJESH BARUA

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CHAD LEWIN

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