FAQ Firearm Rules and Regulations
- The firearm must go through a firearm dealer for the transfer to be legal.
- Generally, all firearms purchases and transfers, including private party transactions and sales at gun shows, must be made through a California firearm licensed dealer under the Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process. California law imposes a 10-day waiting period before a firearm can be released to a purchaser or transferee.
- Pursuant to Penal Code section 27510, a California licensed dealer is prohibited from selling, supplying, delivering, transferring or giving possession or control of any firearm to any person under the age of 21 years, except as specifically exempted. The exemptions apply to the sale, supplying, delivery, transfer, or giving possession or control of a firearm that is not a handgun to a person 18 years of age or older.
- The Exemptions Include:
- A person 18 years of age or older who possess a valid, unexpired hunting license issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- An active peace officer, as described in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, who is authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of his or her employment.
- An active federal officer or law enforcement agent who is authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of his or her employment as a reserve peace officer.
- A person who provides proper identification of his or her active membership in the United States Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Air National Guard, or active reserve components of the United States.
- A Person who provides proper identification that he or she is an honorably discharged member of the United States Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Air National Guard, or active reserve components of the United States.
- As part of the DROS process, the purchaser must present “clear evidence of identity and age” which is defined as a valid, non-expired California Driver’s License or Identification Card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A military identification accompanied by permanent duty station orders indicating a posting in California is also acceptable.
- If the purchaser is not a U.S. Citizen, then he or she is required to demonstrate that he or she is legally within the United States by providing the firearms dealer with documentation containing his/her Alien Registration Number or I-94 Number.
- Purchasers of handguns must provide proof of California residency, such as a utility bill, residential lease, property deed, or government-issued identification (other than a driver license or other DMV-issued identification), and either (1) possess a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC) plus successfully complete a safety demonstration with their recently purchased handgun or (2) qualify for an HSC exemption.
(Pen. Code, § § 26800-26850.)
- The laws governing control of deadly weapons, including firearms, are found in Part 6 of the Penal Code, beginning at section 16000. These laws define the various types of dangerous weapons as well as restrictions and crimes related to their manufacture, sale, possession, and transportation. Of particular note, the laws relating to firearms are found in Title 4 of Part 6, beginning at section 23500, and the applicable definitions and general rules are found in Title 1 of Part 6, beginning at section 16000. Laws that pertain to both firearms and other types of deadly weapons are found in Title 2 of Part 6, beginning at section 17500.
All firearms, new or old, must go through a ffl gun dealer.
- Yes, but they don’t apply to the general public. For example, waiting period exemptions include the following:
- Firearms dealers and persons who have obtained special weapons permits issued by the DOJ are exempt from the waiting period.
- Persons with a Curio & Relic collector’s licenses issued by the ATF and who have a valid Certificate of Eligibility issued by the DOJ are exempt from the waiting period when purchasing curio and relic firearms.
- Peace officers with authorization from the head of his/her agency.
(Pen. Code, §§ 26950-26970, 27650-27670.)
Yes. If you keep any loaded firearm within any premise which is under your custody or control and know or reasonably should know that a child (person under 18 years of age) is likely to gain access to the firearm, you may be guilty of a felony if a child gains access to that firearm and thereby causes death or injury to any person including themselves unless the firearm was in a secure locked container or locked with a locking device that rendered it inoperable.
(Pen. Code,§§ 25100, 25200.)
Yes. If you have a conviction for a firearms-prohibiting offense, such as felony drunk driving, your driving record would affect your ability to purchase a firearm. Furthermore, your driver’s license must be valid. A revocation, outstanding ticket, or fine may cause your license to be invalid.
No. Neither temporary driver’s licenses nor temporary identification cards are acceptable forms of proof of identity and age.
(Pen. Code, § 16400.)
- See this link for ID requirements to purchase a gun or rifle.
Yes. If you do not take physical possession of the firearm within 30 days of submission of the DROS information, the dealer must cancel the sale. If you still want to take possession of the firearm, you must repeat the entire DROS process, including payment of DROS fees and new 10-day waiting period.
(Pen. Code, § 26835; 27 C.F.R. § 478.124, subd. (c).)
Yes, you may request a California Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC) by submitting a (PFEC) application, pdf to the Department of Justice. For more information about how to request a PFEC, please refer to the PFEC FAQ. Applications are also available through your local firearms dealer. Please be advised that a PFEC does not include a Federal NICS check. Therefore, you may still be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm even though you receive a PFEC response indicating you are eligible to own or possess firearms.
(Pen. Code, § 30105)
- Yes, as long as the adult child receiving the firearm is not in a prohibited category, pdf and the firearm is legal to possess (e.g., not an assault weapon). The transfer of a firearm between a parent and child or a grandparent and grandchild is exempt from the dealer transfer requirement. The exemption does not apply to step-children/step-parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or cousins.
- If the firearm is a handgun, the recipient must obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate prior to taking possession and must also submit a Report of Operation of Law or Intra-Familial Handgun Transaction and $19 fee to the DOJ within 30 days after taking possession.
- The same rules apply to the return of the firearm at a later date.
(Pen. Code, §§ 27870-27875, 30910-30915.)
- Yes, as long as the person receiving the firearm is not in a prohibited category, pdf and the firearm is legal to possess (e.g., not an assault weapon), the transfer of a firearm between a husband and wife or registered domestic partners is exempt from the requirement to use a licensed dealer to perform the transfer.
- If the firearm is a handgun, the recipient must obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate prior to taking possession and must also submit a Report of Operation of Law or Intra-Familial Handgun Transaction, pdf and $19 fee to the DOJ within 30 days after taking possession.
- The same rules apply to the return of the firearm at a later date.
(Pen. Code, §§ 16990, subd. (g), 27915, 27920, subd. (b).)
There is no limit to the number of handguns that you may own but you are generally limited to purchasing no more than one handgun in any 30-day period. Handgun transactions related to law enforcement, private party transfers, returns to owners, and certain other specific circumstances are exempt from the one-handgun-per-30-day purchase limit.
(Pen. Code,§ 27535.)
The waiting period for the purchase or transfer of a firearm is ten (10) 24-hour periods from the date and time the DROS information is submitted to the DOJ.
Generally, it is illegal to buy, manufacture, import, keep for sale, expose for sale, give or lend any large-capacity magazine (able to accept more than 10 rounds) in California. However, continued possession of large-capacity magazines that you owned in California prior to January 1, 2000, is legal provided you are not otherwise prohibited. A person prohibited from possessing firearms is also prohibited from owning or possessing any magazines or ammunition.
(Pen. Code, §§16150, subd. (b), 30305, 32310.)
Any person who has a conviction for any misdemeanor listed in Penal Code section 29805 or for any felony, or is addicted to the use of any narcotic drug, or has been held involuntarily as a danger to self or others pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 8103 is prohibited from buying, owning, or possessing firearms or ammunition. There are also prohibitions based on mental conditions, domestic restraining/protective orders, conditions of probation, and specific offenses committed as a juvenile. A list of prohibited categories is available on the Bureau of Firearms website.
(Pen. Code, §§ 29800, 29805, 29815, 29820, 29825, 29855, 29860, 29900, 29905, 30305; Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 8100-8103; 18 U.S.C. § 922, subd. (g), 27 C.F.R. § 478.22.)
- See link here for more information – Prohibited persons
The total state fee is $37.19. The DROS fee is $31.19 which covers the costs of the background checks and transfer registry. There is also a $1.00 Firearms Safety Act Fee, and a $5.00 Safety and Enforcement Fee. In the event of a private party transfer (PPT), the firearms dealer may charge an additional fee of up to $10.00 per firearm.
If the transaction is not a PPT the dealer may impose other charges as long as this amount is not misrepresented as a state fee. When settling on the purchase price of a firearm, you should ask the dealer to disclose all applicable fees.
(Pen. Code, §§ 23690, 28055, 28230, 28300, 28233.)
If your DROS application is denied, you will receive a letter from the DOJ Bureau of Firearms within two weeks. The letter will explain the reason and instructions on how to get a copy of the record that resulted in the denial of your application. There will also be instructions on how to dispute and correct information in your record you believe is wrong.
Yes, upon request, the dealer must provide you with a copy of the DROS application. In private party transactions, the seller is also entitled to a copy of the DROS application upon request.
(Pen. Code, § 28210.)
Prior to the submission of DROS information for a fiream, the purchaser must present an FSC or provide the dealer with proof of exemption pursuant to California Penal Code section 31700.
(Pen. Code, §§ 26840, 31700.)
To obtain an FSC you must score at least 75% (23 correct answers out of 30 questions) on the FSC Test covering firearm safety and basic firearms laws. The true/false and multiple choice test is administered by Instructors certified by the Department of Justice who are generally located at firearms dealerships.
(Pen. code, §§ 31610-31670.)
Yes. A replacement FSC is available only through the DOJ Certified Instructor who issued your FSC. The FSC replacement cost is $5. The replacement FSC will reflect the same expiration date as your original FSC.
(Pen. code, § 31660.)
Yes, but you must have a valid federal Curio & Relic Collector’s license and a valid Certificate of Eligibility.
(Pen. Code, § 27535.)
You are considered a personal firearm importer as defined by California law. You may bring all of your California-legal firearms with you, but you must report them all to the California Department of Justice within 60 days as required utilizing the New Resident Firearm Ownership Report (BOF 4010A), pdf. You may not bring ammunition feeding devices with a capacity greater than ten rounds, machine guns, or assault weapons into California.
(Pen. code, §§ 17000, subd. (a), 27560.)
There is no firearm registration requirement in California except for assault weapon owners and personal handgun importers. However, you must submit a Firearm Ownership Report (FOR) Application (BOF 4542A), pdf to the California Department of Justice (the Department) for any firearm you are seeking return where no other record is on file with the Department identifying you as the most recent owner/possessor. Having a FOR application on file with the Department will authorize the return of your firearm in the event it is subsequently lost or stolen. With very few and specific exceptions, all firearm transactions must be conducted through a firearms dealer. If you purchased a handgun from a properly licensed California firearms dealer and underwent a background check via the state’s Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process, a record of your handgun purchase is already on file with the Department. Therefore, it should not be necessary for you to submit a FOR application for handguns previously purchased in California. Unfortunately, this is not the case with regards to rifles or shotguns. Prior to January 1, 2014, the Department was prohibited by law from retaining DROS long gun information.
Yes. To obtain a list of firearms listed in your name, complete and submit an Automated Firearms System Records Request, pdf to the Automated Firearms Unit, P.O. Box 820200, Sacramento, CA 94203-0200. The request must be signed, notarized, and include a photocopy of your photo ID card (i.e., driver’s license or DMV ID).