Undetectable Firearms - California Penal Code PC 24610

Posted by Raoul Severo | Dec 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

Gun control laws are there for a reason. They help regulate and prevent the use of firearms in criminal and violent actions. Most importantly, these laws aid in making sure that the community is safe from armed criminals. However, how would these goals be achieved if we fail to notice illegal firearms in the first place?

That is why we have California Penal Code PC 24610, which decriminalizes any undetectable firearm within the state of California. The term “undetectable” is quite vague, but we need to keep the legal definition in mind if we are to discern which firearms are illegal under PC 24610. In the statute, a gun is considered an “undetectable firearm” if it meets any of the following conditions:

  • After removal of grips, stocks, and magazines, the weapon cannot be detected by walk-in metal detectors; and
  • When subjected to an X-ray inspection (such as in airports), the shape of the major components of the firearm does reflect properly to the machine.

Generally, any gun that is composed of less than its usual metal content can be considered an “undetectable gun”. Materials used to manufacture undetectable guns typically include:

  • Plastic;
  • Ceramic; and
  • Polymer.

Furthermore, California Penal Code PC 24610 prohibits anyone from doing any of the following with undetectable guns:

  • Manufacture
  • Import;
  • Keep or offer for sale;
  • Give or lend; and
  • Possess.

Undetectable guns are just one of the many generally prohibited weapons in the state of California. Firearms that are categorized as such can be extremely problematic when given to the wrong hands. Yes, the same argument can be said for all weapons, but you can only imagine how chaotic the community would be if people owned firearms that cannot be detected by security systems. Thus, the policymakers decided that it is better to ban them altogether.


Although cases under PC 24610 are rare, they are definitely not unheard of. In fact, certain individuals have been arrested for intentionally possessing undetectable firearms. We have listed a few examples which violate the California law for undetectable guns:

  • An underground gun manufacturing company decided to innovate their products to appeal to high-profile criminals. They made pistols with frames and grips composed of lightweight polymer. After that, they tested their products by running them through metal detectors and found that the machines failed to detect the guns. They then distributed the polymer pistols around the state of California.
  • A foreign terrorist group had been conspiring an attack against the U.S.A and decided to use undetectable guns for the said ambush. The first batch of terrorists was sent by air travel and managed to go through the X-Ray machine without any problem. 
  • A man went on a trip across the globe and bought a few firearms with him. Fearing that he might get in legal trouble, he decided to use a 3D-printer and crafted replicas of the firearms with which he could install the major components of the guns.

Related Offenses

Carrying undetectable firearms poses a serious threat to the security and safety of everyone nearby. Therefore, violating California Penal Code PC 24610 is often not an isolated case. Here are some offenses that are related to the illegal possession of undetectable guns:

Penalties for Undetectable Firearms

Under California Penal Code PC 24610, if you possess, manufacture, or sell undetectable weapons, you can be charged for either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. 

For a misdemeanor violation, the penalties are as follows:

  • A maximum county jail sentence of 1 year; and/or
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000.

Meanwhile, a felony offense would result in the following penalties:

  • Either 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail; and/or
  • A fine not exceeding $10,000.

The court may grant the defendant probation in lieu of jail time, but that highly depends on the circumstances of your case.

Legal Defenses

We cannot stress enough how empirical it is to get a criminal defense lawyer by your side, most especially if you are facing a charge as serious as PC 24610. An excellent, aggressive attorney would make sure to pick only the strongest defense for your case, such as the following:

  • The firearm did not meet the conditions specified by law to qualify as an “undetectable weapon”;
  • You fall under the list of exempted individuals (i.e., antique dealers); and
  • The firearm was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure procedure.

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