FAQ

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Calguns Foundation FAQ:

This page is meant as a reference for individuals with questions about California and Federal law. It is meant to act as a starting point for additional research and should not be an individual's sole resource in understanding the law.

This is not legal advice. The authors are not qualified to give legal advice, and even if they were, none of them are ‘’your’’ lawyer. Take legal advice only from licensed professionals whom ‘’you’’ are paying for specific advice for your circumstances.

Contents

General Firearm Questions

What firearms are Legal in California?

I am moving to California. What CAN'T I bring with me?

New residents may bring almost anything except:

  • "Assault Weapons"
  • Machine Guns
  • Suppressors (silencers)
  • Short Barreled Rifles or Shotguns (SBR/SBS)
  • Destructive Devices
  • Magazines that hold more than 10 rounds
Are there "sunset" provisions in any of California's gun laws (large capacity magazine ban, safe handgun roster, assault weapons ban, etc)?

No.

Can I bring a handgun into California if it isn't on the Safe Handgun roster?

Yes. The Handgun Roster refers to handguns dealers may sell – it has no effect on what you may own.

How do I TRACK CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION?

The best on-line resource is this page; it has links to all the important documents.

Each House has its own rules, and there are ‘Joint Rules’; rules are flexible and often suspended – do not count absolutely on a rule applying or continuing to apply to a bill that the leadership wants.

Generally a bill is introduced in January/February and is referred to a ‘Policy Committee’, e.g. “Assembly Public Safety”. There it usually has hearings, and may be amended. The hearing schedule for committees is in the Daily Files. Policy committees work on their House’s bills mostly in March and April. (Each year has a specific calendar.)

If the bill gets out of its policy committee, it usually will go to the Appropriations Committee, to be considered in April and May. Some bills do not cost money, and so are spared the stop in Appropriations.

If it passes out of Appropriations, it gets a floor vote from its full house of origin, usually in late May or early June. If it passes the floor vote, it goes to the other House for consideration, and the process repeats: Policy committee, Appropriations committee, floor vote.

Policy committees are supposed to complete their work (this time on the bills from the other House) by mid-July, appropriations by the end of August, and the floor votes should be complete by mid-September.

Completed bills that pass are sent to the Governor for his signature.

Signed bills generally take effect the following January 1, unless the bill itself has a different date.

To follow a specific bill, open the link and enter the bill number. Documents about the bill are available on line, frequently delayed a few days from the most recent action.

The legislature runs on a two-year session, odd-year and even-year (that is, “09-10” is one session, “11-12” is the next session, and so on).

A bill introduced in the odd year may not pass that year, and may become a ‘two year bill’. Such a bill may be considered in the second year of the session.

If a bill fails passage after the deadline of the second year, that bill is dead. It may be reintroduced in the next legislative session.

Where can I read COUNTY and MUNICIPAL CODES?

Many local governments have out-sourced their code maintenance and hosting.

Useful web sites are


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Purchasing Questions

How do I buy a gun (general)?

California requires substantially all firearms transfers to take place at a CA-licensed FFL. Other states allow “face to face” (FTF) transfers, involving only private individuals, but California does not (unless it is a C&R long gun that is at least 50 years old, see here).

There are two general methods to buy a gun: Dealer Sale, the topic here, and Private Party Sale (see below).

Except for some C&R firearm transfers, every firearms transfer to non-licensed persons has some common factors:

  • DROS and 4473 paperwork are both required.
  • Dealer fees and the purchase price are both required.
  • During that 10 days, CA-DOJ will perform the background check.
  • Before delivery, the buyer must have an appropriate safety device.

How do I buy a long gun (rifle or shotgun)?

  • DROS is simple; no firearm identification information is recorded.

How old do I have to be to buy a gun?

18 years old for a long gun(rifle or shotgun), 21 years or older for all other firearms (18 for a handgun if acquired through an intrafamily transfer).

How do I buy a handgun?

  • Unless the buyer is exempt, or the handgun is one of the exempted models/kinds, a handgun must be on the Roster.
  • Identifying information is recorded: handguns are registered to the buyers.

How do I buy a C&R long gun (rifle or shotgun)?

  • If you are buying it from a gun dealer (FFL) the process is the same as for any other long gun.
  • If you are buying it from a private party in California, and it is at least 50 years old:
    • It is a cash-and-carry transaction between you and the private party (FFL not required)
    • There is no waiting period
    • No paperwork is required
    • See here for background info
  • Interstate private party transactions require an FFL.

How can I find out if I'm eligible to purchase or possess a firearm?

This DOJ document summarizes the federal and state prohibiting categories. You can also choose to perform a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check

I have a Safe Affidavit, do I still need to purchase a gun lock?

Not if you are purchasing a long gun, but you probably will for a handgun.

Federal law, as currently enforced by BATFE, will not allow the California Safe Affidavit as a substitute for a lock.

Some gun shops will still accept the safe affidavit, but don't rely on that.

See here, here and here for more info.

Can I buy a gun outside California?

If you do not have any kind of FFL, NO.

Federal law requires interstate transfers to go through a CA FFL for CA residents.

It is illegal for either an FFL or a private person to sell and deliver a firearm to someone who does not live in the same state as the seller where that transaction is unlawful in the sellers state or the buyers state.

It is often unlawful for a person to somehow acquire a firearm outside his state of residence and bring it back to his state unless his state law or residence allows those transactions. Note that some states treat long guns and handguns differently and treat some subset of states differently.

You CAN select a firearm from out of state and have it shipped to a California FFL to complete the transaction.

Geography is not relevant; the current location of the gun does not determine whether the transfer is interstate – the state of residence of the current owner and seller does.

What is the "Safe Handgun Roster?"

The California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. It lists the handguns which a non-Law Enforcement California resident can buy new from a dealer. More info here and here.

Can I buy a handgun not on the "Roster” from an FFL/Dealer?

No, unless you are a Law Enforcement Officer or otherwise exempt.

Is there any way to buy a handgun that is not on the Safe Handgun Roster?

Yes. Current law enforcement (not retired) is exempt from the Handgun Roster, and may resell off-Roster handguns to non-LEO.

Non-LEO may also sell off-Roster handguns through the CA Private Party Transfer (PPT) process at an FFL.

Why are some guns on the Roster, and similar guns from the same manufacturer NOT on the Roster?

Manufacturer's choice - each gun model costs the manufacturer 3 copies of the gun, $200, and ammunition to complete the testing; then it costs $200 annually for each model listed.

What about the 'similar gun' law at PC 12131.5?

That allows the manufacturer to avoid TESTING a model to get it on the Roster - but it still must be ADDED to the Roster before it can be sold and the manufacturer must pay the $200 for the initial and renewal listings.

Can I just buy an "off-Roster" handgun from an out of state FFL?

No. Since interstate transfers must go through a California FFL, ordering an off-Roster handgun from a gun sales web site or an out of state FFL will not work.

Are C&R handguns exempt from the roster?

Yes, as per 12132(g) PC

What is a Private Party Transfer (PPT)?

California requires substantially all firearms transfers to take place at a CA-licensed FFL. Other states allow “face to face” (FTF) transfers, but California does not, except for some C&R transfers.

What are the requirements for performing a PPT?

A California Private Party Transfer (PPT) requires all the formalities of a dealer sale – 10 day wait, DROS and 4473 paperwork, lock for the firearm.

So I can't just give my friend the money and take my new gun home?

No.

Are there any exceptions for Curios and Relics or other firearms?

Yes. The only exception is for Curio and Relic (C&R) long guns. Handguns (pistols and revolvers) still need to go through a PPT even if they are C&R.

Can I buy a handgun that isn't on the "safe handgun Roster" via PPT?

Yes. PPT is exempt from the Handgun “Roster”.

Am I restricted to one handgun PPT every 30 days?

No. PPT is exempt from the “purchase only one in 30 days."

Note that the City of Los Angeles has a legal restriction, including PPT sales in 1 in 30 days.

Can I perform a PPT with a non California resident?

No. The DROS software will accept only CA identification or a Military ID, so PPT's are currently limited to California residents or those with Military ID's and California PCS Orders.

What if I buy a gun from an out of state resident?

While an out of state resident may sell you their gun at a California FFL, it will not be a PPT but an interstate transfer. If it is a handgun, it will need to be on the Roster and subject to the "one handgun in 30 days" restriction.

Is a firearm sold on consignment considered a PPT?

Yes.

If the consignment firearm is a handgun, does it need to be listed on the "Roster?"

No. Since the consignment gun is treated as a PPT, it is not required to be on the Roster.

What is a STRAW PURCHASE?

A straw purchase is when a buyer uses an intermediary (the "straw man") to purchase a firearm(s) from a licensed firearms dealer. The purpose is to hide the true identity of the actual purchaser of the firearm(s).

Straw purchases are a felony violation of the Gun Control Act of 1968 for both the straw purchaser (who can be charged with lying on Federal Form 4473) and the actual possessor.

Frequently, the actual purchaser is a prohibited person under federal law.

It is legal for one person to purchase a firearm as a gift for another person.

It is legal for a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) to purchase an off-Roster handgun and later sell it to another California resident – that would not necessarily be a ‘straw purchase’.

Gun Buyback Questions

Can I stop someone on their way to a gun buyback and offer to buy their guns?

Yes.

What risks are involved if I buy a gun like this?

It might be stolen.

If the gun is C&R (over 50 years old) can I buy from someone at a gun buyback cash and carry?

Yes, if it is not a handgun (you can buy a rifle or shotgun this way).


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Manufacturing Questions

How do I legally manufacture a firearm?

It is legal to make your own firearm for your own use, provided the one you build is legal for you to own in your state/municipality.

Do I need a state or federal license to manufacture a firearm for personal use?

No license is required, either Federal or California.

Does my homemade firearm need a serial number?

No.

There is no legal requirement for serialization or registration as long as you build a non-NFA firearm.

Do I need to register my homemade firearm?

No.

As long as the firearm is not an NFA item, it does not need to be registered, even home made pistols.

Can I make a homemade firearm in order to sell it?

You may not make a firearm with the intent to sell it, unless you possess a valid manufacturer's license.

Can I sell a homemade firearm at all?

Can I build a carbine from a MechTech kit?

Yes, but it will be difficult.

To Be CA Legal

Because you are manufacturing a centerfire, semiautomatic rifle, when the Mech Tech kit is installed onto a 1911 or Glock frame, it will need a magazine lock or 'bullet button' to prevent it from being an 'assault weapon'.

Magazine lock = grinding down the magazine release until it was below the surface of the frame and at the point where a person can no longer operate it, unless a tool is used.

Only 10 round or fewer magazines can be used in the magazine locked Mech-Tech.

The Over All Length (OAL) of the Mech-Tech with the extending stock is too short to be legal.

The full stock version has to be used or a 4" barrel extension has to be added for the extending stock version.

To Be Federally Legal

Once, the Mech-Tech is installed onto a 1911 or Glock frame, you have now made a rifle.

In order to legally install a pistol slide/barrel to the 1911/Glock frame, you must get BATFE approval to make a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR). BATFE will not approve the making of a SBR in CA, unless the maker has a Dangerous Weapons Permit issued by the CA DOJ BOF.

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Registration Questions

Can I buy/sell/own an unregistered firearm?

Yes.

California does not require firearms to be registered.

Handguns that have gone through CA FFLs are registered through the DROS process.

Long guns, other than 'assault weapons', are not registered through DROS, since no firearm information - make, model, caliber, etc. - is recorded.

Sales since 1991 have been required to use an FFL, so nearly all transfers since then have gone through DROS.

See also: Firearms Registration

What is an INTRAFAMILY TRANSFER?

‘Intra’ (means ‘within’) is different from ‘inter’ (means ‘between’).

California has some special rules for transferring firearms among certain family members. The Federal government has nothing similar.

For these rules, a family is parents, grandparents and children/grandchildren. Brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews, step parents and in-laws are NOT included.

Husbands and wives may also transfer firearms one to another under slightly different rules.

Intrafamilial transfers of firearms are exempt from using an FFL if the transfer is inside California. Federal law still requires interstate transfers to use an FFL.

Intrafamilial transfers of LONG GUNS are paperless. No record is required.

INHERITANCE (the giver is deceased) of LONG GUNS from people who live outside of California is also exempt from the FFL (Federal law exempts inheritance) and paperless.

INHERITANCE (the giver is deceased) of HAND GUNS from people who live outside of California is also exempt from the FFL (Federal law exempts inheritance) but can be more complicated. See also Inheritance.

IF YOU CAN, GO GET THE HAND GUNS IN PERSON, and then file the form. While the Federal law exempts inheritors from using the FFL, commercial shippers will often feel bound not to ship to an unlicensed individual. See also Shipping Firearms Within California for a related discussion.

Intrafamilial transfers of HAND GUNS

  • require filing a form and paying a fee – one fee for all guns transferred at one time.
  • are exempt from the Roster (even if interstate)
  • are exempt from the ‘1 in 30 days’ rule (UNLESS if interstate, see Calguns discussion thread.)
  • are exempt from the requirement that the receiver be 21 years old (they must only be 18 years old for intrastate transfers, 21 for interstate)

While brother cannot use this rule to directly give a firearm to a brother or sister, there is a work-around. Brother1 can give the firearm to a parent; parent can then give the firearm to Brother2.

All transfers must be UP or DOWN, never SIDEWAYS.

Intrafamilial transfers of HAND GUNS from correctly related family members who live outside of California are one way to get hand guns which are not on the Roster .

See here for more info: Transferring Firearms Among Some Family Members


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Possession Questions

Where can I HAVE A FIREARM?

Can I have a handgun anywhere within my home?

Yes.

Can I carry a concealed handgun within my home without a concealed carry permit (CCW)?

Yes. See the Unlicensed Concealed Carry article for more information.

Can I carry a concealed handgun within my home without a CCW if I live within a school zone?

Yes.

Can I carry a concealed handgun within yard or property without a concealed carry permit?

Yes, but only if your yard is fully enclosed such as by a fence.

If it is not fenced, it is considered a "public place" even though it is private property and you can not carry a loaded, unlocked firearm there.

See here for more info.

Can I carry a concealed handgun on private property I own without a concealed carry permit?

Yes. See here for more info.

Can I carry a concealed handgun in my friend's house or on his property without a concealed carry permit?

Yes, if he/she has given you permission to do so. See here for more info.

Can I have a firearm in a state park?

Yes, but only if it is unloaded and rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased, or stored in a manner that will prevent ready use, and only at your temporary residence or in/on your vehicle. (per CA State Park Regulations)

Do I need to keep my guns locked up?

Only if minors might gain access to them (expand).

If I have my firearms locked in a safe or other device and law enforcement requests that I open it, am I required to?

No.

Can I have a handgun in my place of business?

Yes. See the Unlicensed Concealed Carry article for more information.

Where can I transport a handgun?

Handguns may generally be transported anywhere except onto school property and into certain public buildings and other places.

Penal Code 12026.2 has a list of places, which it acknowledges is not exclusive:

  • firearms collector’s meetings
  • hunter safety classes or sporting events involving the firearm
  • fixed businesses that repair firearms
  • gun shows and swap meets
  • licensed target ranges
  • lawful campsites, if not otherwise prohibited

Holders of licenses to carry concealed weapons have more options.

I have a permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon (CCW). Where can I transport a handgun that would otherwise be prohibited?

An easier question would be "Where can't one CCW?" California law is actually quite permissive once one has obtained a CCW. It's important to note that California does not recognize any CCW permit issued by other states. Assuming there are no other restrictions printed on the permit and the permit is valid in California one may carry everywhere except:


  • Federal law/regulation:
    • On post office property, including the parking lot and grounds, even if it is in a locked container[39 CFR 232.1]
    • Federal courthouse.[TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 44 > § 930 Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities]
    • Sterile area of an airport [49 CFR 1540.111(a)]
    • Federal facilities [TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 44 > § 930 Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities]
      • Social Security Administration offices
      • US Military Installations


  • State law/regulation:
    • Courthouse when you are a party to an action pending before the court [PC 171b(b)(2)(B)]
    • Family Law courts [depending on the presiding judge]
    • Gun Shows [PC 12071.4] *OK to CCW if you have no ammo to fit the carry gun and have complied with other provisions in the PC. Once you have a paperweight you may conceal it at the gun show.
    • While at a polling place during an election [California Elections Code Section 18544]
    • While picketing [PC 12590]
    • Sterile area of airports [PC 171.5]
    • While masked so as to hide your identity, while on a public street or in a public place [PC 12040]
    • Wildlife Refuges [California Fish and Game Code Section 10500(b)]
    • The State Capitol, any legislative office, any office of the Governor or other constitutional officer, or any hearing room in which any committee of the Senate or Assembly is conducting a hearing, or upon the grounds of the State Capitol, which is bounded by 10th, L, 15th, and N Streets in the City of Sacramento unless one has permission from Chief Sergeants at Arms of the State Assembly and the State Senate. [PC 171c (b)(2]
Can I carry a concealed weapon while hunting?

Yes, if you have a hunting license you can carry a concealed firearm while hunting or going to and from a hunting expedition (12027(g) PC). However, you cannot carry loaded unless you are in compliance with 12031. A hunting license does not give you any special privileges regarded loaded carry: 12031 takes precedence over the CA hunting regulations.

Can I carry a concealed weapon while fishing?

Yes, if you have a fishing license you can carry a concealed firearm while fishing or going to and from a fishing expedition (12027(g) PC). However, you cannot carry loaded unless you are in compliance with 12031. A fishing license does not give you any special privileges regarded loaded carry: 12031 takes precedence over the CA fishing regulations.

Where/when are some places/times that I CAN NOT HAVE A FIREARM?

  • On the grounds of any K-12 school, college or university without written permission from the school's superintendent/president, designee or equivalent authority. (626.9 PC)
  • On post office property, including the parking lot and grounds, even if it is in a locked container (39 CFR 232.1(l))
  • In any state or local public building (171b PC)
  • At any government-related meeting that is required to be open to the public. (171b PC)
  • Upon the grounds of the State Capitol (171c PC)
  • In any legislative office, or any office of the Governor or other constitutional officer (171c PC)
  • In any hearing room in which any committee of the Senate or Assembly is conducting a hearing (171c PC)
  • Within the Governor's Mansion or any residence of the Governor, or any residence of constitutional officers or legislators (171d PC)
  • Within any sterile area of an airport or boat passenger terminal (171.5 PC)
  • While masked so as to hide your identity, while on a public street or in a public place (12040 PC)
  • While labor picketing in a public place, cannot carry a concealed or loaded weapon (12590 PC)
  • In some areas of federal public lands (national forests, BLM, etc.) See here for more info
  • Important: County parks, state parks, game refuges and similar public property often have firearms prohibitions or restrictions. Check your local laws.

What about ammunition and reloading supplies?

How much ammunition can I store in my home?

There is no limit specified in state or federal laws. However, your local city or county ordinances may specify limits.

How much gunpowder can I store in my home?

Per state law, you may possess up to 20 lbs of smokeless powder and up to 1 lb of black powder, however, your local city or county ordinances may impose additional limits. Keep in mind that black powder substitutes like pyrodex are considered smokeless powder and would fall under the 20lb restriction as opposed to the 1lb black powder restriction.

Ref: CA Health and Safety 12102

How about primers, bullets and other reloading components?

There are no quantity limits in federal or state law. However, your local city or county ordinances may impose limits.

Can I give or sell my gunpowder to my friends?

Yes, but the law requires you to keep records of each gift or sale. See the requirements in CA Health and Safety 12102.1.

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Carry Questions

Open Carry

Am I allowed to Open Carry in California?

In general, only in places where it would be legal to carry loaded; open carry in California is very restricted.

Am I allowed to Open Carry a loaded firearm?

In areas where it is legal to discharge a firearm.

Can I carry inside my house/apartment/condominium?

Yes. You can carry either openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded. This is still true if you live within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school.

Can I carry in the 'common areas' of my apartment/condominium complex?
  • Not concealed, without CCW. You don't 'own' the common areas in the same way you 'own' your apartment or condominium.

Concealed Carry

How do I get a permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon (CCW) in California?

In a large part of California, you don’t.

Who issues a CCW permit in California?

California law specifies that issuing authorities – Police Chiefs and County Sheriffs – MAY issue such a license.

Where is the permit valid?

If issued, the license is valid in the whole state, unless the issuer places restrictions on the license.

Who is eligible for a CCW, and what does the process entail?

The applicant must not be a ‘prohibited person’, must apply with a fee and fingerprints, must complete any training the issuing authority specifies (within limits) and have “good cause”.

The cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose are, in practice, “no issue” outside of lawyers, judges and retired law enforcement. The rest of the state is variable; the details are outside the scope of this article.

On what grounds can I be denied a permit?

The issuing authority is free to issue or refuse to issue for any reason or no reason.

Is “Good cause” defined in the Penal Code?

No.

Can I drink and concealed carry if I have a permit?

The Penal Code is silent on alcohol use or presence and Concealed Weapons License holders. Some issuing authorities are not silent.

What is the punishment for carrying concealed without a permit?

Carrying a concealed weapon without the license may be punished on the first occasion either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on circumstances.

Am I allowed to carry on school grounds?

Yes, unless the issuing authority places a restriction on your permit.

Am I allowed to carry in establishments that serve alcohol?

Yes, unless the issuing authority places a restriction on your permit.


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Knife Questions

General laws

Except for switch-blades and schools, the State does not specify a length for knives.

Do state preemption laws prevent cities and counties from setting stricter knife laws?

No. The State does not pre-empt cities and counties from their own knife laws; however, cities and counties can create only misdemeanors and infractions. There can be no local laws imposing a felony for simple possession.

Is there a length limit for fixed or folding knives in California?

At the state level, no, but some municipalities have various length limits.

Can I have a switch-blade knife in California?

It is illegal to carry any switch-blade knife in California unless the blade is below 2 inches in length CA Penal Code 653k.

Fixed blade knives

Fixed blades must be carried openly, to avoid a ‘dirk or dagger’ felony.

Folding knives

Folded folders are NOT ‘dirks or daggers’.

School and university carry

University of California and K-12 schools ban all blades longer than 2 ½ inches, and locking folders.

Other Colleges and Universities ban fixed-blades longer than 2 ½ inches.


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Magazine Questions

What is a large-capacity magazine?

California defines ‘large-capacity magazines’ as those which hold more than 10 rounds.[1]

  • Note that the correct legal term is "large-capacity"; other descriptions such as "standard capacity" or "high capacity" are in common use, but not appropriate in a discussion of California law.
Are rimfire firearms and magazines subject to the large capacity magazine restrictions?

Yes. Rimfire magazines are regulated by the same laws as centerfire magazines.

The only exceptions are tubular rimfire magazines, such as those built into the Marlin 60 and similar rifles, and tubular magazines built into lever action firearms. [2]

Possession

Is possession of a large capacity magazine illegal?

No. Possession of a large-capacity magazine is NOT illegal, no matter how you got it or when you got it.[3]

Is there an age limit to own magazines?

No. There was not and is not an age limit to own or purchase large-capacity magazines. This includes magazines issued to military.

Do I need to keep any proof that I legally acquired my magazines?

No, you do not need to keep receipts or otherwise prove your magazines are legal.

When did the law banning new large capacity magazines take effect?

New (to the state) large-capacity magazines were banned, effective January 1, 2000.

I owned large-capacity magazine(s) since before January 1, 2000, are they legal?

Yes. If you possessed such magazines in California before that date, they are legal.

If you manufactured them, or brought them into California for the first time after that date, the law was broken.

How is the California large-capacity magazine ban affected by the Federal ban (from 1994-2004), and vice versa?

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was law from 1994 until it expired in 2004. During that time, the sale of newly manufactured large capacity magazines was restricted to law enforcement and military only.

The sale of preexisting ("pre-ban") large capacity magazines was unchanged and still legal in California until the state ban took effect on January 1, 2000.

Up until that date, Californians could buy large-capacity magazines just like the rest of the country.

Can I buy large-capacity magazines out of California?

Yes - BUT you cannot bring them back to California assembled. You CAN take them apart - there is no law of "constructive possession" for magazine parts - but you may NOT re-assemble the parts into functioning magazines inside California. Re-assembling would be manufacturing, and that is illegal.

Can I bring large-capacity magazines into the state with me if I did not possess them here prior to January 1, 2000?

No.

What if I "find" some large-capacity magazines?

It is not illegal to possess and use large-capacity magazines. You do not have to document or discuss how you acquired them.

An analogy: Suppose you were six years old and brought home a tricycle. Your father might ask, "where did you get that tricycle?". You might reply, "I found it!". Would you really expect your father to believe that?

  • Please do not strain the credulity of your listeners.
What is the Statute of Limitations for violating the laws regarding large-capacity magazines?

Three years as specified in PC 801. If you illegally imported the magazine into the state or manufactured it over three years ago, the statue of limitations claims you can no longer be prosecuted.

If you then left the state with that magazine and re-imported it, the clock on the statute of limitations would reset, as a new crime would have been committed.

What should I say if a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) asks me about my large-capacity magazines?

Don't talk your way into jail.

Say you have nothing to say on the subject without an attorney present.

Can I sell, trade or give large-capacity magazines to anyone in California?

No. It is illegal to transfer large-capacity magazines inside California, except to law enforcement.

Repair and Rebuild

Is it illegal to possess parts for large capacity magazines?

No. It is not illegal to possess all of the parts to manufacture a new large-capacity magazine, as long as you do not manufacture the magazine in the state of California.

Can I repair my old large-capacity magazines with new parts?

Yes. Existing (old) magazines may be repaired with new parts.

Can I use parts from new magazines that didn't exist before 2000 to repair and rebuild my old magazines?

Yes, the general consensus is that if any of the parts are interchangeable, it is legal.

  • An old and worn out USGI magazine, for example, can be rebuilt into a Magpul PMAG, because the spring from the USGI magazine is compatible with the PMAG.
Do I need to keep any parts from the original magazine in my newly rebuilt magazine?

No.

Can I change the capacity of my large-capacity magazine when I rebuild it?

Yes, it is legal to repair/rebuild your preexisting large capacity magazines of any capacity into larger or smaller capacity magazines (i.e. a 20 round mag can be rebuilt into a 30 round mag and vice versa), so long as they still work for the firearm intended.

The general consensus is that if the parts are interchangeable, it is legal (whether a 30 round USGI magazine can be built into a 100 round Beta C Mag, since the two share no common parts, is a topic of debate).

Can I use rebuild kits to make large capacity magazines for use out of state?

Yes. Magazine parts kits can be used to create new magazines when out of state, provided that before they return to the state, they are disassembled.

Can I use large-capacity magazine parts to build magazines that hold ten rounds or less?

Yes, It is legal to use the parts from a large-capacity magazine to manufacture a magazine that holds ten rounds or less. This modification must be permanent to be legal. A rivet or epoxy is generally considered permanent in the eyes of the law.

Can I get in trouble for shipping/sending assembled large capacity magazines into the state?

Yes. Out of state, non-residents of California are still subject to California law and can be extradited for breaking those laws, even if you never plan to visit the state.

This is not limited to large capacity magazine or firearms laws.

Use

Can I use my large-capacity magazines?

Yes.

Regardless of date or manner of acquisition, it is not illegal to use large capacity magazines.

Can I use the parts from a large-capacity magazine to create a magazine that holds ten rounds or less?

Yes. It is not illegal to convert a large-capacity magazine to a 10-round or smaller magazine.

If I have a ten round magazine for one caliber that holds more than ten rounds of another caliber, is it legal to use in the other caliber?

Yes.

Some magazines designed for 10 rounds of one caliber can accept more than ten rounds of a different caliber, and function in some firearms (Example: .50 Beowulf ten round magazines hold thirty rounds of .223). This is not illegal.

Is a magazine with ammunition in it a "loaded gun?"

No. A magazine with ammunition in it is not a ‘loaded gun.' It does not meet the Penal Code definition of a firearm.

Can I have ammunition in my magazines while transporting them?

Yes. When transporting a firearm, magazines may contain ammunition, so long as the magazines are not inserted in the magazine well of a firearm.

Lending large-capacity magazines

Can I loan my large-capacity magazine to a friend at the range?

You can lend a large-capacity magazine to a friend, if you stay together, as at a range.

Can't I just let him borrow the magazine to take to the range with him?

No. You cannot loan a large-capacity magazine to anyone, including family members, outside of your immediate presence.

Use of large-capacity magazines in "Bullet Buttoned" firearms

Can I use my large-capacity magazines in my firearm equipped with a "Bullet Button?"

NO! Rifles or pistols equipped with a bullet button (whether they are equipped with "evil features" or not) cannot use large capacity magazines. Large-capacity magazine laws are different from assault weapons laws.

Remember that 'bullet buttons' are only used on centerfire semi-automatic rifles.

Why?

A weapon with a "fixed magazine", which necessitates the use of a bullet button, also requires a 10-round or fewer magazine. Such a gun used with a large capacity magazine creates a Category 3 assault weapon.

What good are large capacity magazines then?

They can be used with firearms that do not have "Evil Features" or Bullet Buttons.


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Transportation Questions

How do I legally transport a handgun?

The easiest (but not the only) method to legally transport a handgun is

  • unloaded
  • in a secure locked case
Can I have ammunition in the same case and compartment as the gun?

Yes.

Can my magazines for semiautomatic handguns have ammunition in them?

Yes.

Can my speed loaders for revolvers have ammunition in them?

Yes.

Does my gun need to be transported in my trunk?

No law requires the locked case to be in a trunk of a vehicle; the locked case may be in any part of your vehicle that you like.

Can I keep a gun in my glove box?

No, you may not use the glove box or center console to transport your unloaded handgun unless the handgun is also in a separate locked case.

Can I transport the locked case in a backpack or a cargo container on a motorcycle?

Yes.

Is a "secure locked container" defined anywhere?

No, there is no legal definition of ‘secure locked container.' There many varieties offered commercially; if you don’t personally think one is ‘secure,' buy one you think is secure.

Is there any distance a "secure locked container" must be from the driver or passengers of a vehicle?

No. As far as the law is concerned, the container can be in your lap.

If I use a cable or trigger lock, do I still need a locked container?

Yes. A ‘cable lock’ or ‘trigger lock’ can NOT replace the locked container.

Can I put the gun in my trunk without a locked container?

Yes, your locked trunk can be used as the only locked container, but only if there the pass-through from the back seat is also locked.

How do I legally transport a long gun (rifle or shotgun)?

Unloaded.

Is a case required to transport a long gun?

No.

Do I need to transport a long gun in my trunk or other locked container?

No, except:

When traveling through Gun Free School Zones Federal law requires long guns to be in a locked container or a locked gun rack.

Can I have ammunition in the same case and compartment as the gun?

Yes.

Can removable magazines for rifles have ammunition in them?

Yes, so long as no loaded magazine is in the magazine well.

How do I legally transport ammunition?

Transporting ammunition by ground inside California:

  • Ammunition may be transported in magazines or speed loaders, not inserted in any gun.
  • Ammunition may be transported in the same case and the same compartment of a case as a gun.
  • Ammunition need not be locked up for transport.

How do I legally transport a registered "assault weapon"?

Registered 'assault weapons' must be transported:

  • unloaded
  • in a locked case
  • only between authorized locations
  • only by the person to whom the weapon is registered

What about the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA)?

Can I bring an assault weapon into California on my way to another state?

Flying with a Firearm

Can I fly with a firearm in my carry on?

No.

Can I fly with a firearm in my checked baggage?

Yes.

What do I need to do to fly with a firearm?

Read this.


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Loaning Questions

General Loaning Questions

Can I loan a large-capacity magazine?

See here.

Can I loan a registered assault weapon?

No. The only exception is if the person it at least 18 years old, you are with the person at all times, and you are at a shooting range or valid exhibition event (12280(k) PC).

Can I loan a firearm to a prohibited person?

No. Ref: 12078 PC

Can I loan a firearm for an unlawful purpose?

No. Although this is not explicit in some of the loan provisions, a common sense interpretation of the legislature's intent suggests it is always true. Ref: 12078 PC

What is an "infrequent" loan?

For handguns: less than six loans per calendar year

For long guns: loans made occasionally and without regularity

Ref: 12078(u)(1) PC, 12070(c)(1) PC

Loaning Firearms to Adults

Can I loan a long gun to an adult?

Yes, if the person is known to you, the loan is infrequent and the duration of the loan is limited to 30 days. However, if the person is a licensed hunter, the loan may be for the duration of the hunting season in which the firearm is to be used.

If the person is not known to you, you may loan the long gun to them at an official target range for the purpose of shooting targets if the firearm remains on the premises of the target range.

Ref: 12078 PC

Can I loan a handgun to an adult who has a Handgun Safety Certificate?

Yes, if the person is known to you, the loan is infrequent, and the duration of the loan is 30 days or less.

If the person is not known to you, you may loan the handgun to them at an official target range for the purpose of shooting targets if the firearm remains on the premises of the target range.

Ref: 12078 PC

Can I loan a handgun to an adult who does not have a Handgun Safety Certificate?

Yes, if the person is known to you, the loan is infrequent and you will remain in their immediate vicinity at all times. The loan duration is limited to 3 days.

If the person is not known to you, you may loan the handgun to them at an official target range for the purpose of shooting targets if the firearm remains on the premises of the target range.

Ref: 12078 PC

Loaning Firearms to Minors

Can I loan a long gun to a minor that is my child?

Yes. The duration of the loan is not limited. Ref: 12078(p)(4) PC

Can I loan a long gun to a minor that is my grandchild?

Yes, if it is done with the express permission of the minor's parent or legal guardian. The duration of the loan is not limited. Ref: 12078(p)(5) PC

Can I loan a long gun to a minor that is someone else's child?

Yes, if you have the express permission of the minor's parent or legal guardian and the loan duration is 30 days or less.

Ref: 12078(p)(1) PC

Can I loan a handgun to a minor that is my child?

Yes, if the loan duration is limited to the amount of time reasonably necessary for the minor to complete the activity. Ref: 12078(p)(3) PC

Can I loan a handgun to a minor that is my grandchild?

Yes, but the grandparent/grandchild relationship is N/A. See Can I loan a handgun to a minor that is someone else's child?.

Can I loan a handgun to a minor that is someone else's child?

Yes, if the minor has the express permission of their parent or legal guardian, or the minor's parent or legal guardian is present at the time the loan is made. The loan duration is limited to the amount of time reasonably necessary for the minor to complete the activity, but in no case more than 10 days.

Ref: 12078(p)(2) PC

Loans Between Parties Who Reside In Different States

Can I borrow a firearm from a person who resides in a different state than I do?

Yes, if it is a temporary loan for a lawful sporting purpose. If the loan was made in a state other than your state of residence, note that Federal law prohibits you from transporting the firearm back to your own state. Ref: 18 USC 922(a)(3), 18 USC 922(a)(5)(B)

Can I loan a firearm to a person who resides in a different state than I do?

Yes, if it is a temporary loan for a lawful sporting purpose and the loan is made within your state of residence or you lawfully transport the firearm to the state in which the loan is made (or ship it to the borrower if they have a FFL). Ref: 18 USC 922(a)(3), 18 USC 922(a)(5)(B)

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"Assault Weapons" Questions

What rifles are "assault weapons?"

Read this flowchart. Start where it says "start" in the top left and follow the arrows.

The appendices referred to on the flowchart are available here.

What is a registered assault weapon?

Numerous rifles owned at that time were classified as ‘assault weapons’, and during 1990 the owners were supposed to submit a registration form and a fee to the state to register the weapons.

Is Assault Weapons registration the same as the paperwork I filled out when I purchased the gun from a dealer?

That process is DIFFERENT from the DROS when the rifles were originally purchased; upon successful registration, the State returned a letter verifying the registration.

Similarly, in 1999 the law was amended to include rifles by feature instead of by name. A new registration period was opened for 2000, with similar extra form, fees, and a confirmation letter.

Is it possible to register my firearm as an assault weapon still?

No. All registration periods are ended. No ‘assault weapons’ may now be registered except by authorized law enforcement, and military PCSing into the state.

There is much confusion regarding ‘assault weapon’ registration; evidence suggests that many owners believed, in error, that the DROS at the original purchase was sufficient.

Here is a FAQ related to legal ownership of registered "assault weapons"

What is the minimum overall length (OAL) for a Registered Assault Weapon?

26".

Semiautomatic, center-fire rifles which are NOT registered as assault weapons must have an overall length of 30".

How do you measure the firearm's length to determine legality?

California firearms' overall length is measured with the stock collapsed or closed (in its shortest position). The rifle or shotgun must be over 26" long in this position to be California legal.

Is it legal to own or possess an unregistered assault weapon?

No. It is illegal to own an unregistered assault weapon.

Is it legal to transport an unregistered assault weapon?

It is illegal to transport an unregistered ‘assault

If I think I have an unregistered assault weapon, what should I do?

It is foolish to post on Calguns “I have a weapon which may be an ‘assault weapon’ and I do not think it is registered.”

The standard advice for that situation is

  • do not say anything in a public forum known to be read by CA-DOJ and other law enforcement agencies;
  • immediately disassemble the weapon;
  • get a lawyer;
  • have the lawyer arrange the surrender of the weapon to local law enforcement.


Does "constructive possession" apply to California assault weapons laws?

No.

Can I get an Assault Weapon or Machine Gun permit?

Good luck. The law allows for ‘assault weapon permits’ and ‘machine gun permits;' those are in practice unobtainable for the average citizen.

I am in the Military, can I bring an "assault weapon" into California?

Military personnel with permanent orders to California may get a Military Assault Weapon Permit (MAWP) before moving to California; contact the Department of Justice directly, or your post/base/station legal services. The permit does not allow you to buy new weapons California doesn’t like, only legally possess the ones you own before coming here. If you retire or complete your service in California, the MAWP is no longer valid and you must move the covered weapons out of state.

Can I own the Taurus Judge or similar firearms in California?

No, the Taurus Judge and other handguns that can fire shotgun shells are defined as ‘short barreled shotguns' by California law.

SKS Questions

Why is an SKS with detachable magazines banned, when other rifles can have detachable magazines?

It is a special part of the Penal Code; there is no good reason for the law.


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NON "Assault Weapons" Questions

What is an Off List Lower (OLL)?

An Off List Lower (OLL) is a part of a semiautomatic centerfire rifle which is NOT listed by name as a California ‘assault weapon’. A common example is a lower receiver for an AR-15 type rifle.

Such parts may be bought and sold, and carefully assembled into rifles to avoid manufacturing an ’assault weapon’ by combination of features.

The part of California Penal Code which allowed more ‘assault weapons’ to be added to the list was repealed, effective 2007.

What is the difference between a "pre-ban" upper or rifle and a "post-ban" upper or rifle?

"Pre-ban/post-ban" refers to the now sunset Assault Weapons Ban (expired September 13, 2004). It has NO relevance to California assault weapons laws.

"Bullet Button" Questions

Is the Bullet Button Legal?

Yes. Note that the DOJ has not approved the Bullet Button, because the DOJ does not approve ANYTHING.

If I have a bullet button, am I legally able to remove the magazine from the firearm?

Yes. A firearm equipped with a bullet button is incapable of accepting a detachable magazine due to the statutory definition of "detachable magazine." Therefore, removing the magazine does not create a "firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine."

Why am I limited to using only ten round magazines with a bullet button equipped firearm?

The Category 3 definition of an assault weapon includes any pistol or rifle that has a fixed magazine holding more than ten rounds. A bullet button equipped pistol or rifle is analogous to a fixed magazine, therefore inserting a magazine with a capacity of eleven or higher into a bullet button equipped pistol or rifle would be manufacturing a Category 3 Assault Weapon.

You didn't mention shotguns; are they not limited to ten rounds when equipped with bullet buttons?

No. The generic definition of an assault weapon for shotguns does not include a fixed magazine with a set capacity. So long as the shotgun is not otherwise an assault weapon, you may legally use any capacity magazine in a bullet button equipped shotgun.

If it's legal to detach the magazine from a bullet button equipped firearm, why are people advised to transport their bullet button equipped firearms with an unloaded magazined locked into place?

For simplicity of explanation. It is much easier to explain why a firearm does not have the capacity to accept a detachable magazine when there is a magazine locked into place than when the mag well is empty. Both are legal, but one is more advisable than the other. [4]

Do I need to use a bullet button with a rimfire rifle?

No. Rimfire rifles are exempt from generic assault weapon classification and do not require a fixed magazine to use "evil" features.

Do I need to use a bullet button with a centerfire rifle with a rimfire conversion kit?

No, not so long as the conversion kit is installed. Before the conversion kit is removed, the magazine locking device/bullet button must be reinstalled.

Do I need to use a bullet button with a rimfire pistol?

Yes, if the pistol in question has "evil" features associated with pistol assault weapons (threaded barrel, magazine outside the pistol grip, etc).

"Featureless" Questions

What is a pistol grip?

A pistol grip is defined as any grip that "allows a pistol style grip below the action of the firearm." Ref: CCR5469

Is the Magpul AFG considered a forward pistol grip?

Probably. The general consensus is "do not use one on a featureless build."

Rimfire Questions

Are any rimfire rifles assault weapons?

Yes. If a rimfire rifle is built on a banned receiver, it would be an assault weapon.

Can I use "evil features" on my rimfire rifle?

Yes. Rimfire rifles are exempt from generic assault weapon classification. You can have all the pistol grips and collapsing stocks you want on your rimfire rifle, as long as it is still federally legal (over 26" overall length,


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Curio & Relic and Black Powder Questions

Curio & Relic Questions

What is a "Curio & Relic" (C&R) firearm?

The California definition of a C&R Firearm is any firearm manufactured over 50 years ago.

Do C&R Firearms need to be kept in their original configuration to be considered C&R?
Do I need a dealer to transfer a C&R handgun?

Yes.

Do I need a dealer to transfer a C&R long gun?

No, not if you are buying the long gun from a private party in California. If you are buying it from someone out of state and you do not have a C&R (03) FFL license, the purchase must still be processed through a California FFL, just like any other long gun purchase. The same is true if you buy the C&R long gun from a California dealer or gun store rather than a private party.

Black Powder Questions

Do I have to transfer a black powder firearm through a firearms dealer (FFL)?

No.

What about reproduction black powder firearms?
Are black powder firearms considered "firearms" at all?
Can I carry a black powder pistol without a CCW then?

No. A black powder pistol is considered a firearm for the purposes of concealed carry laws.


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Sales Questions

CFLC Questions

Do I need to register with the California DOJ as a private (non FFL) seller?

No.

How do I register for the CFLC?

By going here.

I have more questions about the CFLC, where can I find my answers?

At the CFLC FAQ.

Private sales questions

Can I ship a handgun direct to an FFL if I don't have an FFL?

Yes.

Whether the receiving FFL will accept a shipment from a non-FFL is a business decision for each FFL to make, not a matter of law.

Can I ship a rifle or shotgun direct to an FFL if I don't have an FFL?

Yes.

Whether the receiving FFL will accept a shipment from a non-FFL is a business decision for each FFL to make, not a matter of law.

Can I sell (X non-serialized firearm component) without an FFL?

Yes. You don't need a Federal Firearms License to sell gun parts.

Ammo Sales / AB962 Questions

What is AB 962?

It's a bill, now law, passed in 2009, that tries to limit ammunition sales and requires record keeping and fingerprints, similar to what Sacramento County does.

The law was ruled unconstitutionally vague on January 18, 2011. It cannot be enforced. New bills may be introduced to replace the overturned sections in the 2011-2012 legislative session.

What does it affect?

Handgun ammunition only.

What is handgun ammunition in the law?

Nobody knows - the bill is vague.

Mr DeLeon tried to get a law passed last session that would have 'cleared' that up, but the bill failed.

Are reloading components and magazines included?

NO. Reloading components and magazines are NOT included.

How is that going to affect out of state sales?

Out of state vendors may reasonably be expected to punt and refuse to sell any ammo by mail/internet, figuring that California is just too crazy.

Can I still sell ammo to California residents?

YES! If this bill ever goes into full effect, the date for handgun ammunition restrictions is February, 2011.

Rifle and shotgun ammunition is not included in the law.

Sales that occur at stores outside California are not included - it is entirely legal to sell ammunition to California residents at your store in Oregon or Nevada or Arizona or any other state.

Sales must be 'face to face'

Sales in California must be face to face, and the buyer/receiver must provide identification to the seller.

Sales at FFLS require paperwork

FFLs are required to get ID and other information, and a fingerprint.

Is there a 50-round limit?

NO - that was in an earlier version of the bill, but is not part of the law.

Can UPS or FedEx drivers meet the 'face to face' requirement?

We don't know.

Is anyone challenging the law?

Yes. There are at least three lawsuits in progress, including OOIDA v Lindley and Parker v California.

What cities and counties have restrictions against shipping ammunition?

Y county isn't listed above. Why won't X vendor ship to Y county?

They're dumb and don't want the money of the residents of that county.

I am out of state and a ca resident asked me to ship him X component, is this legal and can I get in trouble for it?

With limited exceptions, the term "parts are parts" applies. Even components that could be used to assemble an illegal firearm can be sent to California, as there is no constructive possession in California law?

What about SBR/MG/Other NFA stuff?

NFA items are generally prohibited in California, and Federal law still applies.

Short barrels and complete SBR upper receivers can be sent to California for the purpose of creating legal AR and other pistols. It is up to the buyer to ensure compliance with state and federal law regarding constructive possession.

What about large capacity magazines? Can I send those to California and can I get in trouble if I do?

Assembled large capacity magazines cannot be sent or brought into California, and to do so IS a felony, even if you live out of state and never enter California.

What about parts for large capacity magazines?

Parts to repair, rebuild and reassemble large capacity magazines are completely legal to send to California. There is no constructive possession and all the parts can be sent in the same package at the same time.


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Hunting Questions

Are there any magazine capacity restrictions while hunting?

Yes. A shotgun may only be capable of holding 3 shells or less, in the magazine and chamber combined (CA hunting regulations).

Can I carry a handgun while hunting?

Yes. Handguns may be carried and used to take some game (CA hunting regulations).


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References

General Firearm Questions

Moving to California with firearms

History of 'Assault Weapon' laws

Best Way to Build a Legal Unregistered Gun?

Legal to Manufacture a Revolver in California for Personal Use?

BATFE FAQ

Dangerous Weapons Control Laws

California Attorney General list of Current and Proposed Legislation

California Law Search


Purchasing Questions

How to live in California and buy a gun

BATFE "Building A Firearm" PDF

Buying and selling firearms in California

Transferring firearms Interstate

Shipping Firearms Within California

Registration Questions

Firearms registration

Transferring Firearms Among Some Family Members

Straw Purchase Fact Sheet


Possession Questions

Possessing an unregistered handgun


Carry Questions

California License to Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW)

Question about Concealed Weapons Permits in CA


Knife Questions

Knife laws discussion on Calguns


Magazine Questions

  1. PC12020(c)(25)
  2. PC12020(c)(25)(B),(C)
  3. If I have a large-capacity magazine, do I need to get rid of it?
  4. Non detachable magazines

Large-capacity magazine restrictions

Large-capacity magazines in California

Legality of "hi-cap" mags

Calguns Post on 10/30 magazines

Mag Extensions On Preban Mags

Transportation Questions

Transporting a Firearm

CHP FAQ

NRA's Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms

Defining loaded in California

What is "loaded" in California?


Loaning Questions

California Penal Code section 12078

California Penal Code section 12070

Assault Weapons Questions

Possession of UNregistered California "assault weapons"


NON "Assault Weapons" Questions

Sales Questions

CFLC Overview

CFLC FAQ

Hunting Questions

Off List Lowers (OLL/OLR)

Interstate sales or transfers to California residents

Transferring firearms interstate

Assault Weapon Transportation

Gun Safes, Gun Locks, California and Federal Law


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