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In Southern California, as the price of rent continues to soar, the cost of living increases, and the common man or woman’s wages stay stagnant, more and more people must resort to giving up their dwellings. Many of them forced to sleep in their cars, vans, or boats. In Los Angeles alone, more than 15,000 people live in their cars. The US Supreme Court has declared that citizens have a right to have a gun in their homes for self-defense. District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) makes it illegal in California to carry a loaded firearm in public, or in your car (See CA Penal Code Sections PC 25400 and PC 25850). How ought the 2nd Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms in one’s home apply when one’s car also doubles as their home?

Living in Your Car

The police came and saw him sleeping in his car, and upon making contact with him, he disclosed the possession of the gun for self-protection. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a crime.

Recently, our law firm represented a man who had fallen upon hard times. He had formerly produced music videos but smartphones and the internet meant technological displacement for his career. Combined with a recent divorce, and the associated pressures of child support, he was forced to resort to sleeping either at friends’ houses or in his car. He was in his 50’s, with a college degree, and had lived a totally law abiding life with no arrests. In order to see his kids, he would go straight from one of three jobs he had, to park near his ex-wife’s residence to take the children to school in the morning. After hearing of a rash of crime in the area, including attempts on his own car, our client decided to sleep with his loaded gun nearby in his vehicle for self-protection. The gun was legally registered to him with the California Department of Justice. However, it was in violation of PC 25400 and 25850 to possess the loaded firearm in his vehicle.

One day an overly anxious homeowner whose house he parked near called the police on him. The police came and saw him sleeping in his car, and upon making contact with him, he disclosed the possession of the gun for self-protection. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a crime.

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If this had been his house, he would have had the right to carry a loaded fire-arm for self-protection. However, his car WAS his house! So it is arguable that this arrest violated his Constitutional 2nd Amendment right to carry a firearm in the makeshift home inside of his car. This is a issue that will come into increasing high relief as the number of people living in their car expands.

The good news: We are in the process of securing a dismissal on grounds of a new statute that gives diversion for mental health issues (PC 1001.36).

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Seppi Esfandi

Seppi Esfandi is a Criminal Defense Attorney with over 19 years of experience practicing Criminal Law in Los Angeles, California. In 2013, he received the coveted distinction of a Certified Criminal Law Specialist. Seppi is available for consultation or media appearances regarding any Criminal Justice matter: seppi@esfandilawfirm.com