California Gun Laws

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California Gun Laws

If you own or are considering purchasing a gun in California, there are a number of important California gun regulations you should understand. This guide provides an overview of the major regulation. Violation of gun laws can lead to serious criminal penalties.

I. Gun Possession Prohibition

California gun laws prohibit certain types of individuals from owning or possessing guns entirely.

  1. California Residency: In order to have a gun, you must be a California resident. If you have recently moved to California and already own guns, you must report ownership of all handguns to the Department of Justice (DOJ) within 60 days of moving, or sell or transfer all handguns pursuant to California law.
  2. Age Restrictions: California requires that you must be 18 or over to own a "Long Gun" (Rifle or Shotgun) and at least 21 to own a "Short Gun" (Hand gun)
  3. Criminal and Mental Health Prohibitions: There are a number of prohibitions on gun ownership for individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense or have documented mental health issues. These prohibitions may stay in place for life or for a shorter specified period depending on the severity of the conviction or health issue. Lifetime prohibitions are enforced for individuals who have serious mental health disorders or who have been convicted of a violent felony.

To determine whether you are eligible to own a gun in California, you may check online by filing a form with the California Office of the Attorney General.

II. Sale and Transfer

California gun laws also regulate the sale and transfer of guns with different rules depending on how the transaction is conducted.

III. Safety Requirements

California law also proscribes certain safety regulations gun owners must abide by.

All individuals owning or seeking to purchase a handgun, must obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate. To obtain this certificate, they must pass a written test administered by the DOJ. In addition they must pass a Safe Handling demonstration in front of a DOJ official.

All firearms, both long and short guns, must be equipped with a safety device.

IV. Types of Guns

California gun laws also restrict the types of guns individuals may own, buy, and sell. Here, while many handguns, shotguns, and rifles are legal, assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles are illegal without special licenses and registration.

V. Location of Firearms

California gun laws regulate the locations where firearms may be kept and carried. Loaded and unloaded guns may be legally kept and carried at a lawful owner’s:

However, Federal and California state laws generally prohibit all persons without special authority from possessing guns in:

VI. Transporting Guns / Guns in Public

California law regulates how guns can be transported and carried in public places.

VII. Penalties

Illegal firearm purchase, sale, and possession can a felony crime for which individuals can be subject to significant fines and prison time. Contacting an experienced attorney can help assure that you remain in compliance with all applicable California gun laws and avoid criminal penalties.

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Last Modified: 08-09-2016 02:15 PM PDT

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