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Calguns Foundation FAQ:


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)
  • Magazines that hold more than 10 rounds
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.

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 If you retire or complete your service in California, the MAWP is no longer valid and you must move the covered weapons out of state.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.' Additionally, the Taurus Judge is considered an Assault Weapon because it is a shotgun with revolving cylinder.

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.

Can I 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.

What is a registered “assault weapon”?

California created its ‘assault weapon’ law in 1989.

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.

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.

All registration periods are ended. No ‘assault weapons’ may now be registered except by authorized law enforcement.

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.

It is illegal to own an unregistered ‘assault weapon’.

It is illegal to transport an unregistered ‘assault weapon’.

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.

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.


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.

No license is required, either Federal or California.

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

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

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, but California does not.

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

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.
  • Unless the buyer is exempt, a 10 calendar-day wait is required before delivery.
  • 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)?

  • The buyer must provide proof of identity
  • DROS is simple; no firearm identification information is recorded.
  • Either a lock or the California Safe Affidavit is acceptable.

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.
  • Unless the buyer is exempt, he must have a Handgun Safety Certificate.
  • The buyer must provide proof of identity AND proof of California residency.
  • Identifying information is recorded: handguns are registered to the buyers.
  • Unless the buyer is exempt, the buyer must perform a handling demonstration.
  • FEDERAL law, as currently enforced by BATFE, will not allow the California Safe Affidavit as a substitute for a lock.

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 a FFL or a private person to sell a firearm to someone who does not live in the same state as the seller.

It is illegal for a person to somehow acquire a firearm outside his state of residence and bring it back to his state.

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 does.

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.

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?


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."

Can I perform a PPT with a non California resident?

No. The DROS software will accept only CA identification, so PPT is currently limited to only California residents.

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.


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’.

Can I buy a handgun not on the "Roster”?

Yes, but unless you are exempt, not from California FFLs. Generally, the exemption is for current law enforcement.

A California Private Party Transfer is exempt from the Roster. Any California resident, including LEO, may sell an off-Roster handgun to another California resident.

Because 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.

Gun Buyback Questions

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

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).

Registration Questions

Can I buy/sell/own an unregistered firearm?


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.


‘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 and nephews are NOT included.

Husbands and wives may also transfer firearms one to another under these 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.

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

Intrafamilial INHERITANCE (the giver is deceased) of HAND GUNS from correctly related family members who live outside of California is also exempt from the FFL (Federal law exempts inheritance) but can be more complicated. See also Transferring firearms Interstate.

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 (even if 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.

Possession Questions


Can I have a handgun anywhere within my home?


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


Do I need to keep my guns locked up?

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

Can I have a handgun in my place of business?


Can I carry a concealed handgun on private property I own?


Where can I transport a handgun?

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

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?
Can I carry a concealed weapon while hunting?
Can I carry a concealed weapon while fishing?

Carry Questions

Open Carry

Am I allowed to Open Carry in California?

With significant restrictions, yes.

Am I allowed to Open Carry a loaded firearm?

In areas where it is legal to discharge a firearm.

Am I allowed to Open Carry an unloaded handgun?

Yes, with certain restrictions.

Where am I not allowed to Open Carry an unloaded handgun?
  • Within 1000 feet of a K-12 school (School Zones)

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?


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.

Magazine Questions

What is a large capacity magazine?

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


Is possession of a large capacity magazine illegal?

Possession of a large-capacity magazine is NOT illegal, no matter how you got it or when you got it. This includes magazines issued to military.

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

No, You do not have to prove 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, they are illegal.

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

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?

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?

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?


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 and caliber 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).

  • The parts can also 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 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.

Some magazines designed for 10 rounds of one caliber can accept more than ten rounds of a different caliber, and function in some guns. 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.


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

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

Rifles or pistols equipped with "evil features" and a bullet button cannot use large capacity magazines. Large capacity magazine laws are different from assault weapons laws.

The use of a bullet button with a large capacity magazine creates a Category 3 assault weapon.

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?


Can my magazines for semiautomatic handguns have ammunition in them?


Can my speed loaders for revolvers have ammunition in them?


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?


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.

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. Separate locked containers are usually more convenient.

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


Is a case required to transport a long gun?


Do I need to transport a long gun in my trunk?

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?


Can magazines for rifles have ammunition in them?


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?

Sales Questions

CFLC Questions

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


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.

Ammo Sales / AB962 Questions

Can I still sell ammo to California residents?

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.


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 "Building A Firearm" PDF

Buying and selling firearms in California

Transferring firearms Interstate

Firearms registration

California License to Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW)

Question about Concealed Weapons Permits in CA

Possession of UNregistered California "assault weapons"

Buying and selling FIrearms in California

Transferring Firearms Among Some Family Members

Transferring firearms Interstate

Shipping Firearms Within California

Possessing an unregistered handgun

Off List Lowers (OLL/OLR)

Defining loaded in California

Straw Purchase Fact Sheet

Interstate sales or transfers to California residents


Assault Weapon Transportation

What is "loaded" in California?

Gun Safes, Gun Locks, California and Federal Law

How to live in California and buy a gun

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


See also

Transporting a Firearm


NRA's Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms

CFLC Overview