The idea that you can not carry your CCW firearm while wearing a mask to protect yourself and others from the COVID 19 Virus, and to comply with the Governor’s order deserves some exploration. I have received so many calls, texts, and emails regarding this subject beginning back in March that I had to do some serious exploration myself. I contacted CCW coordinators and talked to other law enforcement officials in Shasta, Tehama, Solano, and numerous other counties before I could feel comfortable sharing what I feel is a healthy opinion. At Northern Firearms Instruction, we teach California CCW and our students rely on us for accurate information. The question stems from penal code section 25300:
California Code, Penal Code – PEN 25300 (a): A person commits criminal possession of a firearm when the person carries a firearm in a public place or on any public street while masked so as to hide the person’s identity.
The CA Penal Code is pretty clear that it is a crime to wear a firearm and a mask at the same time if the “purpose of wearing the mask is to hide the person’s identity”. Many times this is how laws are written in the CA Penal Code. It is what is known as a “specific intent law”; or in layman’s terms, was it your “intent” to hide your identity? Of course, this leads us to another question; why? Of course, there is normally another crime being committed with the firearm being carried while the person is ” hiding their identity”. Here is an example and it is a true story:
Two men who were not from the local area (Redding) entered a home wearing COVID masks and carrying a gun. Their specific intent was to rob the occupant of the home. To disguise themselves from witnesses, they wore COVID masks. They exited their vehicle with those masks on and never removed them. If and when caught the Shasta County District Attorney COULD file charges which included CA PC 25300.
If you are a CCW holder and have ever attended a Northern Firearms Instruction course, you know we recommend each and every gun owner to become a “student” of this type of research. You can Google just about any term regarding your CCW or other gun ownership laws and come up with a wealth of information and possibly save yourself some heartache along the way.
In short, when you are wearing a face-covering to comply with state or local directives, your intent is not to hide your identity, well hopefully.
US Army CSM (r) Ted Lidie is the Chief Instructor At Northern Firearms Instruction, and an NRA Training Counselor. His 35 years of firearms training experience includes everything from training tactical deployment in combat situations as well as teaching youth to safely shoot a BB gun. He currently leads a team of 25 instructors who teach CA CCW and numerous other courses in 43 jurisdictions throughout the state. You can find a course in your area by visiting www.usgunpro.com, or contact Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org