California has some of the strictest gun laws in America. California residents with a valid ID and are 21 years of age or older may apply for a California Firearms Safety Certificate (FSC), with some exceptions. Some 18-year-olds may apply for their FSC if they have a valid Fishing & Hunting license in the state. If you’re a convicted felon or a narcotics abuser, you will be denied a license to own a firearm.

To own a firearm in the state of California, the owner needs to comply with the list of rules and regulations given by the state.

1. How Can I Apply For a Gun License In California?

FFLs, or Federal Firearms Licensees, are not allowed to sell or transfer a weapon to anyone under the age of 21, nor if they are a convicted felon. To get started on owning a firearm, one needs to study the California Firearms Safety Guide, located here. Once a person completes the test, conducted typically at a gun shop in front of a licensed instructor, they may apply for their first weapon. To be able to own a weapon in California, one needs to supply their California ID and a valid US passport. If you’re applying for a handgun in California, you need a valid ID, passport, and proof of California residency. Proof of residency is not required for AR-15s or shotguns.

Once you complete your FSC test and have supplied the proper documentation, the gun store may then continue on with the background check, which goes through the Department of Justice and the FBI. If a person has any felonies or narcotics issues, they will be denied here in this process. If you get your felony expunged, you could get back your gun rights. Click here to read our article on expungements.

Furthermore, a person who has been denied their gun license cannot own ammunition. If you are given your gun license, you can pick up your weapon after 10 days of purchasing it. Buying ammunition as a registered gun owner is much more simple, as the background check for buying ammo is just read off the previous background check. So, if a person has passed their first background check, that same background check would be used for the purchase of ammunition.

2. How Can I Buy, Sell, or Transfer a Weapon in California?

California law restricts the private sale or transfer of a firearm. All weapons wanting to be bought, sold, or transferred, must be done through a valid FFL. The process stays the same, however. The Dealer’s Record of Sale, or DROS, prohibits the private sale or ‘gun-show sales’. This means that all firearms sales and transfers must be done through a valid FFL. Buying a gun in California is not as easy as most people make it seem.

Strict California laws in place put a 10 day waiting period to pick up a weapon after the background check has been completed and the payment has been made. There is an exact 10-day waiting period, down to the specific second. You cannot come to pick up your weapon earlier than this time. As of January 1, 2021, registered gun owners can only make 1 gun purchase every 30 days. In other terms, you cannot buy a handgun and an AR-15 in the same 30 day period.

3. How Can I Legally Transport & Store My Gun?

There are several rules and regulations in regards to storing and transferring a weapon in the car. When buying a handgun for the first time, the gun store will typically charge $5 more for a CA weapon’s lock. The handgun must be locked with the lock and must be placed in the trunk of the vehicle, where no one can access it. The firearm may be store inside the vehicle, but only if it is in a locked container and is not concealed. The gun CANNOT be loaded while transporting it. Of course, if there is a registered felon inside the car, then you may not transport the weapon. California rifle laws regarding storage and transport are different than CA pistol laws.

For the transportation of AR-15s and other long guns or shotguns, they do not need to be in a locked container while transporting. These weapons must be unloaded and stored in a container while transporting. However, federal law prohibits unlocked weapons 1000 feet near a school zone.

In regards to storing a handgun, California law requires a few different things. A person may keep a firearm loaded in their home if they know no one prohibited from accessing the gun may take it. California law makes it illegal to store a firearm in the open when there is a child present or if there is a felon present. If either applies, the gun owner must ensure that the firearm is unloaded and stored in a CA complaint gun safe, where no one but the owner can access it.

If a gun owner is caught not storing their firearm properly, they could be charged with a misdemeanor and could be charged with up to one year in county prison.

4. How Can I Get A CCW Permit In California?

California is one of the hardest states (besides New York) to get a CCW permit. It is illegal for anyone in California to conceal carry or to open carry a weapon. CCW permits are issued out by your residing county. For example, if you lived in Los Angeles, you would go to the LA County Sheriff’s Department and speak to them. If you reside in Beverly Hills, you would also need to speak to the LA County Sheriff’s Department. CCW permits are only given to people who have a ”good cause’’ to apply for a CCW. This could include someone who has been threatened with their life, and has police records to prove so, or could be a pharmacist who is looking to protect themselves from thieves.

Click here for our comprehensive guide on how to get a CCW permit in California. 

5. Can I Open Carry A Weapon In California?

California law prohibits open carrying a weapon in public. This applies to both loaded and unloaded weapons. However, counties with a population of 200,000 or less may give a license to open carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in public. If a person is caught with open carrying a handgun or firearm without the proper license, they will be charged with a misdemeanor and pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or serve 1 year in county prison.

If caught with a loaded firearm in public, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, and pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or serve 1 year in county prison. Note that these are wobbler crimes, and depending on the circumstances on how a person was open carrying their weapon, they could be charged with a felony.

6. What Guns Are Illegal In California?

Due to California gun laws, many firearms that are available in other states are not made available here. For one, manufacturers must comply with the 10 round magazine capacity law, which would require some manufactures to make different production lines just for the state of California. No person is allowed to own a fully automatic weapon in the state of California without a Dangerous Weapons Permit given to a person by the California DOJ, as well as an NFA tax stamp given from the ATF. This weapons permit is also required to possess a suppressor or to add anything besides a muzzle brake on your AR-15.

There are a number of weapons prohibited by California law, including SBRs (short-barreled rifles) to a number of other unconventional weapons, such as the cane gun (a gun that is shaped to look like a walking stick. California’s lawmakers have also made a list of 500 legal handguns that are able to be purchased in California. If it’s not on the list, you can’t buy it. Contact your state rep to help change California gun laws.

7. Are Assault Weapons Legal In California?

California law restricts the sale of assault weapons to private citizens with no special permits. An ‘assault weapon’ can be classified as any weapon that must require an NFA stamp or any full-auto weapon. Fully automatic weapons were banned in 1994 under the Federal Assault Weapons ban. An assault weapon could be classified as a fully automatic weapon.

There are some exemptions to this law, however. Dangerous Weapons Permits are given to people who meet strict standards placed by the California Department of Justice and the ATF. These permits are not given out freely and are very hard to get. To be eligible to gain a dangerous weapons permit, one needs to have a good cause, and most people do not have a good cause such as being a gunsmith or a movie company.

8. Where Are Guns Prohibited?

There are several areas in which California law prohibits the presence of a firearm. Such places are:

-School zones
-Government offices or buildings
-Public places and meeting areas
-Airports and terminals
-Public transportation

California law also requires those with weapons to stay a certain number of feet away from a school zone. For example, a person cannot be within 1000 feet of a school zone with a firearm. Failure to comply with this law could result in up to 7 years in prison.

9. What are the rules on ammo and silencers in California?

California law is one of the strictest states in regards to buying ammo and suppressors. Suppressors are classified as NFA items, which means only those with Dangerous Weapons permits may be allowed to purchase and own them under California gun laws. Large-capacity magazines are also banned under California law. Any magazine carrying over 10 rounds inside will be classified as a felony. During the ‘Freedom Week’ last year, in which a California judge ruled that California gun laws were unconstitutional, people were allowed to order ammo and large-capacity magazines online. A week later the decision was appealed. People who were able to be grandfathered into the clause, due to buying their large-capacity magazines legally, are not allowed to put 11 rounds in their magazine. Failure to comply could result in a felony charge and up to 7 years in prison. A judge has recently smacked down on California gun laws. 30 round magazines may be coming to California soon. 

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has been looking to get a CCW, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.