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Gun Laws in California – Purchasing & Registering Firearms

How To Buy A Gun In California

Every state has its gun law to ensure that buying firearms is highly regulated. However, some states like California have new gun laws that are enacted every month.

Fortunately, our team spent 48 hours researching how to buy a gun in the Golden State to keep you updated.

8 Steps To Follow When Buying A Gun in California

1. Choose The Firearm You Want To Buy

When it comes to firearm options, California has a wide market of firearms you can choose from. You can purchase in a gun store, deal with private sellers or find a gun online. However, you need someone with a Federal Firearms License to handle the transactions. You can choose from modern to antique guns with an impressive pistol grip. 

There’s an official roster of handguns for sale in California to help you choose the firearm you want to buy [1]. However, with many shooting incidents in the state, assault weapons or a centerfire rifle cannot be legally purchased.  

2. Check Your Eligibility

California gun laws are restrictive because of many shooting incidents in the state. If you plan on buying a gun in Golden State, the Federal law mandates that you will have to undergo eligibility checking first. 

Some documents should be presented, and you must undergo background checks before buying one. In addition to this, you should be above 21 years old and not have any criminal history to be eligible.

3. Know The Requirements

In firearms purchases, you may need documents like a valid California driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles or a valid hunting license and proof of residency with the same address. In addition, you may need to undergo a background check by a licensed firearms dealer and provide an FSC. 

On the other hand, the requirements are the same if you plan to buy a long gun. However, there is no need for proof of residency when buying long guns.

Know The Requirements

4. Bring Proof Of Residency (If Buying A Handgun)

In California, to buy a handgun, you must present proof of residency. It can be a utility bill, a notarized and signed residential lease agreement, a property deed. If you are from the United States Armed Forces assigned in California, you will need military permanent duty station orders. 

The address on your residency must be similar to your California Driver License or Unexpired Hunting license issued by the state.

5. Apply To Purchase & Sign Some Papers

After deciding if you are getting a modern or antique firearm, you can now prepare all the requirements, apply to purchase a firearm, and sign the documents. 

The gun store cashier will then ask you to sign the ATF Form 4473 and Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) with your personal information.

They will also require your right thumbprint before you submit your papers.

Apply To Purchase & Sign Some Papers

6. Get The Firearm Safety Certificate

The Firearms Safety Certificate is a small card you will get when you pass the California Department of Justice Firearm Safety Exam.

It is a 30-question test and can be taken multiple times if you score lower than 75%. A Certified Instructor will administer the test in a firearm dealership. In addition, it must be renewed every five years. It must be presented every time you buy a firearm in California.

7. Perform The Safe Handling Demonstration

While your background check is in process, you must successfully perform a safe handling demo of the gun and must be performed to a DOJ Certified Instructor. 

This step is highly recommended by the state law to perform before the delivery of the firearm to make sure that you know how to operate the gun safely.

Perform The Safe Handling Demonstration

8. Pay The Fees & Wait For 10 Days

Now that you accomplished the requirements, you can pay the fees like the DROS, which is $25 per firearm transaction, and some related state fees. 

A licensed dealer may charge you for some extra fees, while when in a private party transfer, the firearms dealer can charge you with additional $10 plus the state fees. 

It may take a 10 day waiting period and have the opportunity to deny or delay your handgun purchases if you fail the background check. However, peace officers are exempted from this. 

Also Read:

Reasons For Ineligibility To Buy A Gun

Reasons For Ineligibility To Buy A Gun
  • If you have an outstanding warrant of arrest for a firearm-prohibiting offense
  • If you are convicted of domestic violence, felony, and addiction to narcotics 
  • If you are restricted from owning, possessing, receiving, or purchasing a firearm 
  • If you are below 21 years old
  • If you have a history of chronic alcoholism or severe mental illness
  • If you did not pass the background check

How To Pass The California Firearm Safety Certificate?

Since the only way you can buy a gun is to pass the handgun safety certificate, you have to score at least 75% on the exam. If you have used a firearm, it would be easier to pass the exam since it covers mostly the basics. 

A 50-page study guide posted on the DOJ website will be beneficial when reviewing for the exam. You can also try taking a Firearms Safety Course available online to help you pass the exam. However, do not be pressured since the exam could be taken multiple times until you pass the test.

FAQS

Yes, you will need a gun safe to purchase a rifle in California. The State requires a firearm safe or a trigger lock for each firearm purchase, and you must provide proof of ownership. It would prevent your gun from being stolen and being used by an unauthorized person.

Yes. It is illegal to purchase or gift assault rifles and semi-auto centerfire rifles in California. These weapons are highly regulated by State and Local laws, and the public registration of such firearms ended several years ago. An Assault weapon or centerfire rifle is also not allowed to be sold or transferred to a family member.

Final Thoughts on Buying A Gun In California

The gun law in California differs from other states. However, it would be easier, especially for first-timers, to follow the steps and take home the gun they’ve wanted to buy with this guide. Purchasing guns in California may put you through a lot of work since the state tries to regulate gun ownership highly. 

Every handgun model from gun dealers has to pass the firing, gun safety, and drop test and should be certified for sale by the Department of Justice in California. On the other hand, the purchaser must be eligible and pass all the requirements and tests before purchasing the gun.

References:

  1. https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/certified-handguns/search

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