California Gun Laws: How to Own a Firearm
Published January 31, 2023
California was the first state in the US to implement a variety of gun safety regulations, including prohibitions on assault weapons, rigorous background check requirements, extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), and protections against domestic violence. Meanwhile, California ranks seventh in gun-related deaths and fifth in crime gun exports.
To further reinforce existing California gun laws, more sensitive public spaces should be designated as off-limits to firearms and provide guaranteed permanent funding to violence intervention programs like the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) program.
California Gun Laws: Requirements to Own Gun
A person must be 18 years old to purchase a shotgun or rifle and 21 years old to purchase a handgun. The Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) is required for all gun sales in California, including private sales and gun shows. This is done to verify that they are of legal age and a resident of California.
Meanwhile, a person convicted of any misdemeanors or felony mentioned in Penal Code section 29805, has a substance addiction or is a threat to self or other people is prohibited from purchasing, owning, or possessing any firearm or ammunition. In addition, there are other restrictions based on domestic restraining/protective orders, probation requirements, mental conditions, and certain juvenile offenses.
CA FSC and PFEC
Before purchasing a firearm, a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) is required for most gun buyers and can be obtained at the dealer. This is a 30-question test containing true/false and multiple-choice questions. Passing requires a score of 75% or higher.
The buyer must also undergo a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC). The PFEC will provide one of four possible outcomes based on the findings of the background check:
- Eligible to either possess or buy a new firearm.
- Eligible to possess but ineligible to buy a firearm.
- Ineligible to either buy or possess a firearm.
- No determination due to lack of information.
Completing the PFEC, FSC, and DROS processes will allow a buyer to complete a purchase.
Firearm Registration in CA
In the event of a gun purchase, the seller must wait 10 days before legally transferring the firearm to the buyer. One can buy only one firearm every 30 days in California, but there is no limitation to how many handguns a person can possess.
California requires gun owners to fill out a Firearm Ownership Report (FOR) Application in order to register their firearms. By submitting the form, the owner is claiming ownership of the firearm.
A FOR Application is not necessary for the majority of firearms and firearm owners under CA gun laws, since a firearms dealer will register it at the time of sale. However, if a gun owner relocates to California, they must register their firearms; they have 60 days to register any pistols, rifles, or long guns they own.
Gun owners are required to have a government-issued ID with them when they purchase a firearm. California maintains a complete database of guns and their owners. Along with their serial numbers, background check, fingerprints, and personal details will be stored in a state database.
Under California gun laws, one must be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun but only 18 years old to buy a rifle or shotgun. One must also pass a background check to ensure that they are of legal age and a resident of California when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer, regardless of whether the transaction is private or at a gun show.
Certain individuals, including convicted felons and substance abusers, may never possess or buy firearms. In addition, gun owners relocating to California must register their firearms.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.