California Gun Laws - Transfer a Firearm
The laws in California concerning the lawful private sale or transfer of a firearm to another party are quite strict. Long gone are the days when you could purchase a 45/70 Marlin rifle from a private seller who ran an advertisement in the classifieds. Now such transfers must go through a fully-licensed firearms dealer. Be sure you understand the proper procedure before you sell or buy a firearm from anyone other than such a dealer.
Of course, if you are a career criminal buying stolen handguns out of the back of a black BMW 750LI sedan, don’t worry about the rules. They don’t pertain to you.
- Bureau of Firearms - California Dept. of Justice - Office of the Attorney General
This is the Bureau of Firearms Home Page
- Official National Rifle Association of America Home Page
California Rifle and Pistol Association.
Log on to the website of the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) listed to the right. Go to “Contact Us” and ask them how to obtain a copy of their pamphlet “Summary of California Gun Laws & Basic Safety Rules”. This is one of the best summaries available of California’s complex gun laws. Read pages 3 and 4. These summarize Penal Code Sections 12070-12082, and 12285(e).
Determine if your firearm is eligible for an exclusion from the transfer regulations. Antique firearms and shotguns and rifles classified as curio/relics that are at least 50 years old are exempt. All other firearms must be transferred through a fully-licensed dealer. This includes handguns classified as curio/relics.
Step 2: Exempt or not exempt?
If the transfer is (1) to your parent, child, grandparent, or grandchild; and (2) that person is legally allowed to own a firearm; and (3) the firearm is a rifle or shotgun then you can make the transfer without going through a firearms dealer. There is no waiting period and no forms to file with the California Department of Justice (DOJ). However, if the transfer is between spouses and the firearm is a handgun (not a rifle or shotgun), there is no waiting period but you must file a transfer report with the DOJ within 30 days. You can obtain the necessary transfer forms from the DOJ website.
Gifts, bequests, and inheritances are covered under this section so remember, if Grandpa gives you the 1939 Luger Parabellum 9mm he brought home as a souvenir from World War II, you must file a transfer report. And be careful with it because it is not a prop from a Company of Heroes video game.
Also note that transfers to siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends are not exempted.
- Handgun Safety Certificate Practice Test
Take a handgun safety certificate practice test to see if you are ready to protect yourself.
- Bay Area Firearms Training Group - Handgun Safety Certificate
Bay Area Firearms Instruction, Inc.: A Leader in Firearms Instruction. Bay Area Firearms Training Group was founded in 2002 to provide quality education promoting responsible civilian firearms ownership/management
- Handgun Safety Certificate Program
California DOJ Study Guide
- Handgun Safety Certificate Program - Bureau of Firearms - California Dept. of Justice - Office of th
Step 3: Find a Licensed firearms dealer
Contact a fully-licensed firearms dealer. Gun stores are licensed dealers. You can also locate dealers through the Yellow Pages or internet websites. Many public ranges are also licensed to conduct firearm transfers. Both the buyer and seller must go to the dealer in person and complete the necessary paperwork. Bring valid photo ID with you. If the firearm is a handgun, the buyer must also have a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC). Most firearm dealers can administer the HSC test at the same time you complete the transfer paperwork, so call ahead to see if he provides this service.
Step 4: 10 day wait
The dealer will take possession of the firearm and hold it for California’s ten day waiting period. During this time the DOJ will complete a criminal background check on the buyer to ensure he or she is legally allowed to own a firearm. The DOJ will also register the transfer of handguns noting information about the buyer and the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. Rifles and shotguns are not registered.
After the waiting period is up and it is determined you are not a criminal or victim of mental illness, you may go pick up your firearm. Of course, if you are a criminal you don't have to wait for ten days, register your gun, or pass a background check. The law only applies to law abiding citizens.
- California Gun Laws - Transporting a Gun in Your Vehicle
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