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Buying A Firearm In California
Frequently Asked Questions


    1. What is the minimum legal age to purchase a firearm in California?

    2. What is the waiting period for firearm purchases in California?

    3. What is the DROS process?

    4. Who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms in California?

    5. What are the additional requirements necessary for purchasing a handgun?

      1. How does one obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate?

      2. What documents are necessary to show evidence of residency?

      3. What is the Safe Handling Demonstration?

    6. 6. The address on my CA Driver’s License has changed or the address is a business address or P.O. Box. Why do I have to provide additional proof of residency if I have already done so in my handgun purchase or if I am purchasing a rifle or shotgun?

    7. Why do I have to buy a gunlock or trigger lock with the purchase of my gun?

    8. What if the gun I am purchasing comes with a gunlock, trigger lock or other safety device?

    9. Is there a limit to the number of firearms that a person can purchase at one time?

    10. I am selling my gun to a friend, how do I do it?

    11. Why are some models of handguns not legal for sale in California?




    1. What is the minimum legal age to purchase a firearm in California?

      1. 18 years of age for rifles or shotguns
      2. 21 years of age for handguns, lower receivers* and “pistol-grip only” shotguns*.

      *Federal regulations prohibit the sale of “non-shoulder fired” firearms to persons under the age of 21 (Click here for ATF Newsletter November 2009)

    2. What is the waiting period for firearm purchases in California?

      1. 10 days, calculated as ten, consecutive, 24-hour periods commencing at the initiation of the DROS process. Qualified persons such as peace officers may be exempt from the 10-day waiting period.

    3. What is the DROS process?

      1. DROS is the acronym for Dealer Record of Sale. It is the system used by the California Dept. of Justice wherein background checks are conducted for purchasers of firearms. It is also the method by which handgun sales registration information is obtained. Beginning January 1, 2014, rifle and shotgun purchases will be registered in CA as well.

    4. Who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms in California?

      1. Persons convicted of felonies or certain misdemeanors, persons addicted to narcotics, persons adjudicated to be mentally defective, persons who are under the restrictions of a temporary restraining order (domestic violence) are amongst the persons who may not purchase or possess firearms. A very specific list of felony and misdemeanor offenses that prohibit firearms ownership is available here.

    5. What are the additional requirements necessary for purchasing a handgun?

      1. Handgun purchasers must possess a Handgun Safety Certificate (or qualifying exemption), provide evidence of residency, and perform a Safe Handling Demonstration.

        1. i. How does one obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate?

          1. 1. You can obtain the HSC by successfully passing the written HSC test. The test consists of 30 questions; passing scores are 23 answers correct or more. The cost of the taking test is $10; upon passing the test, the HSC card costs $15. Study booklets are available in any Turner’s Outdoorsman location for .50. The test may be taken during normal store hours. The HSC is valid for 5 years from date of issuance.

        2. What documents are necessary to show evidence of residency?

          1. Utility bills from within the last 90 days, property deeds, lease or rental agreements, or government issued permits, licenses or registrations are acceptable proofs of residency that meet the CA handgun residency requirements.

        3. What is the Safe Handling Demonstration?

          1. The Safe Handling Demonstration is a set of firearm handling skills that must be performed by the purchaser with the gun they are purchasing or with a gun of the same model as the one that is being purchased. The skills include checking that the handgun is empty, unlocking it, loading it with a dummy round, unloading it and relocking it. This demonstration is performed at the time of DROS.

    6. The address on my CA Driver’s License has changed or the address is a business address or P.O. Box. Why do I have to provide additional proof of residency if I have already done so in my handgun purchase or if I am purchasing a rifle or shotgun?

      1. a. Federal law mandates that a dealer may not sell or transfer a firearm unless the purchaser provides the dealer with a current and valid government-issued picture ID that includes the purchaser’s residence address. If the address on your CA Driver’s license is not current or if the address reflects a business address or P.O. Box, you will be required to provide a government document (such as vehicle registration) that reflects your current residence address.

    7. Why do I have to buy a gunlock or trigger lock with the purchase of my gun?

      1. a. California law requires that all firearms sold, be transferred with a trigger lock, cable lock, qualifying gun cabinet or lock box, or gun safe. These devices may include CA approved trigger/cable locks that come with the majority of new firearms or one that was purchased within the last 30 days, provided that it is accompanied by a receipt.

      2. State law dictates that persons who already own a safe or lock box can sign an affidavit attesting to ownership of those devices. However Federal law that went into effect after the passage of CA law mandates that a trigger lock accompany any handgun transfer without consideration of CA law. Effectively this means that safe affidavits are no longer acceptable for handgun transfers. 

    8. What if the gun I am purchasing comes with a gunlock, trigger lock or other safety device?

      1. If the device that comes with your gun is on the “CA approved” list than you will not need to purchase another gunlock or cable.

    9. Is there a limit to the number of firearms that a person can purchase at one time?

      1. a. California law limits the purchase of handguns to no more than one handgun transferred from a dealer to an individual within any 30-day period. Note that firearms transferred between individuals that are transacted through dealers, (known as Private Party Transfers), are exempt from the one-handgun-a-month restriction, as are consignment handgun purchases made from CA dealers.

      2. California law does not limit the number of long guns (rifles or shotguns) purchased by one person or within any specific time period.

    10. I am selling my gun to a friend, how do I do it?

      1. Sales conducted between unlicensed individuals are called Private Party Transfers. PPT’s must be brokered through licensed dealers. Both parties must be present at the time of the sale. The purchaser bears the cost of the transaction ($35 including DOJ and dealer fees) and must meet all of the qualifications as outlined above. The firearms will remain at Turner’s Outdoorsman during the 10-day waiting period.

    11. Why are some models of handguns not legal for sale in California?

      1. CA law dictates that only those guns deemed “not unsafe” may be sold. In order to be listed, handguns must be submitted to the state for testing and must include certain features such as magazine disconnect safeties or loaded chamber indicators. As of mid-year 2013, CA law also requires that handguns imprint a “microscopic array” on fired shell casings in order to be added to the list. At the current time, no new models of handguns feature “microstamping”.
 
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