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Calguns Foundation FAQ:

Types of Firearms

What is a registered “assault weapon”?

The emphasis here is on REGISTRATION.

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The part of California Penal Code which allowed more ‘assault weapons’ to be added to the list was repealed, effective 2007.

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?

Unloaded, cased or not, visible or not.

It is convenient to have a case; that is not required.

It is less obvious to transport a long gun in a vehicle trunk; that is not required.

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

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


History of 'Assault Weapon' laws

Possession of UNregistered California "assault weapons"

Off List Lowers (OLL/OLR)

Defining loaded in California

Assault Weapon Transportation

What is "loaded" in California?

See also

Transporting a Firearm


NRA's Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms