Shooting ranges are a safe place for people to use their firearms, though these facilities are subject to various restrictions. In California, shooting ranges have to comply with both state laws and local ordinances governing their use. These shooting range laws and ordinances are, like all laws, subject to change.

Zoning Ordinance

Local governments in California have the ability to pass local zoning ordinances that govern shooting range uses. For example, the City of Berkeley, California, has several ordinances that apply to ranges. Berkeley ordinance 13.72.040 states that the Chief of Police issues shooting range permits. The ordinance allows any person or organization to establish an indoor shooting range as long as it is not for profit and that it allows only rifles of .22 mm caliber, pistols and revolvers.


California Civil Code section 3482.1(2) defines a sport shooting range as any area designed for and operated as a place where people can shoot firearms of various kinds, including pistols, rifles, black powder or other such weapons. People can use these facilities for sport or law enforcement training purposes. The code defines an indoor shooting range as any totally enclosed facility that has impenetrable walls, floors and ceilings, as well as acoustical treatment to limit sound.

Criminal Penalties

California has strict laws regulating when and where people can carry firearms. For example, California Penal Code section 12031(a)(1) makes it unlawful for a person to carry a loaded firearm in any public place. However, the law makes an exception to this, stating that it is legal to carry a loaded firearm on the premises of a shooting range or club as long as it is on the range premises and that the use of the firearm is otherwise lawful.


California Civil Code section 3482.1.(4)(b)(1) states that anyone who operates or uses a sport shooting range in the state is not liable for civil or criminal penalties as a nuisance as long as the range complies with all relevant noise control laws or ordinances that applied at the time of the construction of the facility. Further, if a local governing body adopts a new ordinance with which a shooting range is not in compliance, the law states that the range can continue to operate as long as no substantial change exists in the nature or use of the range.