35+ Years Criminal Defense Experience in California


California Gun-Free School Zone Act – Penal Code 626.9

For owners of firearms in California, it has become increasingly important to know where you are legally able to carry. While it is difficult to estimate the number of gun owners, a 2001 survey found that 21% of respondents in California indicated they had firearms in or around their home.

school bus
The gun free school zone act was created in 1995 to protect children while attending school.

The number of gun owners continues to increase each year, and if you are one of the many who own a firearm, it is vital to understand the limitations set forth in the 1995 California Gun-Free Zone Act.

Penal Code 626.9 PC makes it a crime to knowingly possess, loaded or unloaded, or to discharge, a firearm in a school zone. For purposes of this law, a firearm is defined as 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.” School zone is defined as an area, “in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction to kindergarten or grades 1 to 12”, or within 1,000 feet of those grounds.

Not only could you face punishment for this violation, but you could be charged with unlawful carrying of a concealed weapon. Knowing the law is important, and if you are charged with any of these crimes you should immediately speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Prosecution of Violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act

In order for you to be convicted of violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act, the prosecution must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That you were in possession of a firearm;
  2. That you were within a school-zone; and
  3. That you knew, or reasonably should have known, that you were in a school-zone

However, given that the possession of the firearm is otherwise lawful, the prohibition does not extend to:

  • A place of residence, place of business, or private property that is not part of the school grounds; and
  • Instances when, if the firearm is an unloaded pistol, revolver, or other firearm which can be concealed, is in a locked container or in the locked trunk of a motor vehicle.

Sentencing and Punishment for Violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act

punishment for false imprisonment of a hostage
If you are convicted of PC 626.9, you may be forced to spend multiple years of your life in prison.

If you are convicted of violating California PC 626.9 by possessing a firearm in, or on the grounds of a public or private school, you face a sentence of two, three, or five years in a state prison.

If you are convicted of violating California PC 626.9 by possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a public or private school, you face a sentence of two, three, or five years in a state prison when any of the following circumstances apply:

  • You have been convicted of a felony in the past;
  • You are prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to Chapter 2, or Chapter 3, of Division 9 of Title 4 of Part 6 of the California Penal Code, or Section 8100 or 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code; or
  • The firearm is a pistol, revolver, or other concealable firearm, punishable as an unlawfully concealed weapon pursuant to Section 25400

Finally, if you are convicted of violating California PC 626.9 by discharging, or attempting to discharge, a firearm in a school zone, you face a sentence of three, five, or seven years in a state prison.

Possible Defenses to Violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act

If you have been charged with violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act, a skilled criminal defense attorney can raise several defenses on your behalf. These defenses may include:

  • That any of the exemptions listed in the act applied to you at the time – Penal Code 626.9 PC includes many exemptions to the law, including carrying a firearm because you reasonably believe that you are in grave danger.
  • That you did not know, or could not have reasonably known, that you were in a school zone – Determining whether you are 1,000 feet from the grounds of a school is not easy or clear cut, and you may have inadvertently crossed that distance threshold without any knowledge.
  • That you were subject to an illegal search – If police conducted an illegal search at the time that your firearm was found, an experienced attorney should be able to argue for the dismissal of the charges against you.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Gun-Free School Zone Act

At Wallin & Klarich, we frequently receive questions from those facing a violation of the Gun-Free School Zone Act. These include:

Does the Gun-Free School Zone Act apply to colleges and universities?

Yes, the act does apply to colleges and universities, but only when a firearm is brought onto the actual school grounds.

Is it a violation to bring a firearm into a school zone when I have permission from the school to do so?

No, as long as that permission comes from the school district superintendent, a designee, or equivalent authority. However, this permission must be in writing.

There is a shooting range located at my local public or private school, college or university; can I be found in violation of PC 626.9 if I am driving to or from there?

No. Existing shooting ranges at public or private schools, college or university campuses are exempt from this law.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today if You Have Been Charged with Violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act

Wallin & Klarich PC 626.9 lawyers
Wallin & Klarich have the experience to provide you with the best protection during your case. Call our offices today.

Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending those facing firearm violation charges for over 30 years. We can help you, too.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help no matter your location.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.

Was This Article Helpful? Please Share it.

Contact Us Now

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, now is the time to contact us.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Testimonials


    I would like to sincerely thank you for helping me with obtaining my Certificate of Rehabilitation. I now realize the importance of obtaining a law firm that has years of experience in criminal law. The way the package was organized and presented to the presiding judge was very impressive to me. The person that tried … Continue reading “Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor’s Pardon Testimonials”

    View All

    My brother was convicted of second degree murder in Los Angeles County. He was sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison. I hired Stephen Klarich from the law firm of Wallin and Klarich to work on his appeal. Our family was very worried and fearful he would spend the rest of his life … Continue reading “PC 1237 | Appeals Testimonials”

    View All

    ARSON: “My husband and I received a shock recently when our son was arrested for starting a fire at a state park. But our shock turned into horror when he was charged with felony arson. We immediately hired the Law Firm of Wallin & Klarich. After a review of the evidence, Wallin & Klarich had … Continue reading “Client Testimonials: Arson”

    View All

Contact Us Now

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Get In Touch
Contact Info
17592 Irvine Blvd. Tustin, CA 92780 (714) 730-5300

Los Angeles County

Los Angeles | Long Beach | Glendale | Santa Clarita | Lancaster | Palmdale | Pomona | Torrance | Pasadena | West Covina | Carson | Santa Monica | Whittier | Lakewood | Redondo Beach | Arcadia | Diamond Bar | Glendora | Cerritos | La Mirada | Rancho Palos Verdes | Culver City | Manhattan Beach | Claremont | Beverly Hills | San Dimas | Walnut | Calabasas | Hermosa Beach | El Segundo | Palos Verdes Estates | Malibu

Orange County

Santa Ana | Anaheim | Irvine | Huntington Beach | Garden Grove | Orange | Fullerton | Costa Mesa | Mission Viejo | Westminster | Newport Beach | Buena Park | Lake Forest | Tustin | Yorba Linda | San Clemente | Laguna Niguel | La Habra | Fountain Valley | Anaheim Hills | Placentia | Rancho Santa Margarita | Aliso Viejo | Cypress | Brea | Stanton | San Juan Capistrano | Dana Point | Laguna Hills | North Tustin | Seal Beach | Ladera Ranch | Laguna Beach | Laguna Woods | La Palma | Coto de Caza | Los Alamitos | Rossmoor | Midway City | Las Flores | Villa Park

Riverside County

Riverside | Moreno Valley | Corona | Temecula | Murrieta | Jurupa Valley | Indio | Hemet | Menifee | Perris | Eastvale | Cathedral City | Palm Desert | Lake Elsinore | Palm Springs | La Quinta | Coachella | San Jacinto | Beaumont | Wildomar | Banning | Norco | Desert Hot Springs | Blythe | Rancho Mirage | Canyon Lake | Calimesa | Indian Wells

San Bernardino County

San Bernardino | Fontana | Rancho Cucamonga | Ontario | Victorville | Rialto | Hesperia | Chino | Chino Hills | Upland | Apple Valley | Redlands | Highland | Colton | Yucaipa | Montclair | Adelanto | Twentynine Palms | Loma Linda | Barstow | Yucca Valley | Grand Terrace | Big Bear Lake | Needles

San Diego

San Diego | Oceanside | Escondido | Carlsbad | Vista | San Marcos | Encinitas | Solana Beach | El Cajon | Santee | Poway | La Mesa | Del Mar


Oxnard | Thousand Oaks | Simi Valley | Ventura | Camarillo | Moorpark | Santa Paula | Port Hueneme | Fillmore | Ojai

Copyright © 2021 Wallin & Klarich - All rights reserved
California Criminal Defense Lawyer Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. Any case results presented on the site are based upon the facts of a particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. The contents of this website may contain legal advertising. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a free telephonic consultation. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of California.