California Gun Laws

Gun Laws in California

According to California law, all firearm sales, gun show sales, loans, and transfers must go through a licensed California firearms dealer. This also includes the private sale of firearms. This process involves the licensed dealer to provide an application for transfer or sale before the firearm can be obtained. Along with a completed application, sufficient California identification or California driver’s license must be provided along with a thumbprint. Additional proof of California residency must also be provided before sale. A copy of the application will then be sent to the California Department of Justice and the local chief of police.

California LawsThe Department of Justice will then perform a background check on the prospective buyer for a certain fee. Ten days after the background check has been completed, the firearm will be delivered. Firearm dealers keep files of all firearm transfers. The firearm possession process from a dealer to a buy must be completed within thirty days or the purchasing process will need to be repeated.

As it relates to all firearms, California is unique in its use of state-based preemption. California has used preemption to ensure the strictest of firearms regulation; it has even preempted regulation of ‘look-alike’ guns.

Only one application for the purchase of a concealed revolver, pistol, or other firearm can be made within a thirty-day time period. No delivery can be made to an individual who has an application to purchase more than one firearm capable of being concealed in that time period. All those who transfer or purchase a handgun to another individual must have a Handgun Safety Certificate.

California has the largest population in the U.S. with over 38,000,000 residents. To the north, it shares a border with Oregon. To the east (across the Colorado River), it borders with Nevada and Arizona. Its southern border is shared with Mexico, which generally prohibits private possession and carry of handguns. The balance of the state is coastal on the Pacific Ocean.

Waiting Period

A certain amount of time must be waited for the transfer of a firearm. In most circumstances it is ten days, but in particular cases a dealer application and the waiting period does not apply. These include other gun dealers, transfer to police officers, manufacturers, importers, infrequent gifts or transfer to an immediate family, infrequent temporary loan that shall not exceed thirty days, the transfer of a rifle or shotgun at auctions by public or nonprofit benefit corporations, and antique firearms, rifles, and shotguns that are classified through the federal government as relics or curios.

Self-defense Laws

California has a form of Castle Doctrine, but does not have SYG. According to California laws, the use of deadly force is justified when all four of the following conditions are met: (1) the use of deadly force is used against a person who is not a resident of the home; (2) the person using the deadly force in their home reasonably believed they or another person was in immediate danger of SBI or killed; (3) the person using the deadly force believed that it was the only way to stop that imminent danger; and (4) they used no more force than was necessary to stop the threat.

Reciprocal Carry

California does not recognize permits from any other state. Recent Court Case: On 6/9/16 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s “may issue” policy which requires people applying for concealed carry permits to show “good cause” in order to obtain the permit, and grants local authorities discretion in deciding whether or not to issue them. In its decision, the court specifically said that the Second Amendment does not protect a right of the general public to carry concealed weapons.

California Firearm Rights

California law states that anyone who has been convicted of a felony, anyone who is addicted to drugs, anyone who has been or currently is a mental patient, anyone who has even been committed for mental observation, or anyone who has been acquitted for reason of insanity may not possess or own any form of firearm. Firearms cannot be possessed within ten years by those who have been charged with specific misdemeanors that involve violence or force.

An adjudicated juvenile offender or delinquent for any offense classified as a felony or misdemeanor due to violence or force may not own or possess a firearm until the age of thirty. No minor may posses a handgun without written permission or parental or guardian supervision. Any minor under the age of sixteen may not possess a handgun unless given written permission or accompanied by a parent or guardian while legally participating in recreational activity.

A felony conviction in California that did not result in a prison sentence, may allow an individual to have firearm rights restored if the conviction is reduced to pursuant Penal Code 17B.

Registering Assault Weapons

There is a way to legally own firearms classified as “Assault Weapons” in California, and that is if they were registered with the state prior to a certain date. California generally does not allow You to register new Assault Weapons, so only those that were registered at the appropriate time were grandfathered in. The period during which Assault Weapons could have been registered are as follows:

  • Category 1 AW: must have been owned by 12/31/1991 and registered by 03/31/1992
  • Category 2 AW: must have been owned by 08/16/2000 and registered by 01/23/2001
  • Category 3 AW: must have been owned by 12/31/1999 and registered by 12/31/2000

Note that registration only allows You to retain possession of a firearm You already owned, You may not sell or transfer an assault weapon to any other CA resident even if it is registered. Also note that registered Category 3 Assault Weapons can be delisted as assault weapons (and therefore legally transferred) if they are modified to remove the prohibited features and comply with the AWB.

Registration will be opened again for “California Legal” rifles that will be affected by the newest ban on assault weapons. These firearms that will now be classified as assault weapons must have been owned before 12/31/16 and must be registered before 1/1/18 in order to remain legal. There is a $20 fee to register them.

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