Inheriting firearms, both within California and Interstate

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Inheriting Firearms

Inheritance requires that the donor be actually deceased. A gift in anticipation of death is not an inheritance.

Within California

Penal Code 12072(d) requires using an FFL for most transfers.

(d)Where neither party to the transaction holds a dealer's license issued
pursuant to Section 12071, the parties to the transaction shall complete the
sale, loan, or transfer of that firearm through a licensed firearms dealer
pursuant to Section 12082.

Penal Code 12078(2)(i) is a messy piece of statute that exempts inheritance from using an FFL inside California.

(i)(1)Subdivision (d) of Section 12072 shall not apply to a person who takes
title or possession of a firearm that is not a handgun by operation of law if the
person is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, receiving,
owning, or purchasing a firearm.

(2)Subdivision (d) of Section 12072 shall not apply to a person who takes title
or possession of a handgun by operation of law if the person is not prohibited by
state or federal law from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm
and all of the following conditions are met:

(A)If the person taking title or possession is neither a levying officer as
defined in Section 481.140, 511.060, or 680.210 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
nor a person who is receiving that firearm pursuant to subparagraph (G), (I), or
(J) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (u), the person shall, within 30 days of
taking possession, forward by prepaid mail or deliver in person to the Department
of Justice, a report of information concerning the individual taking possession
of the firearm, how title or possession was obtained and from whom, and a
description of the firearm in question. The reports that individuals complete
pursuant to this paragraph shall be provided to them by the department.

The appropriate form to report a handgun transfer is Operation of Law or Intrafamilial Handgun Transaction Report.

Cannot transfer 'assault weapons' by inheritance

Penal Code 12285 (b)

  (b) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no assault weapon
possessed pursuant to this section may be sold or transferred on or
after January 1, 1990, to anyone within this state other than to a
licensed gun dealer, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12290,
or as provided in Section 12288. 
Any person who (A) obtains title to  an assault weapon registered under this
section or that was possessed pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of
Section 12280 by bequest or intestate succession, or (B) lawfully possessed
a firearm subsequently declared to be an assault weapon pursuant to Section
12276.5, or subsequently defined as an assault weapon pursuant to Section
12276.1, shall, within 90 days, 
render the weapon permanently inoperable, 
sell the weapon to a licensed gun dealer, 
obtain a permit from the Department of Justice in the same manner as specified
in Article 3 (commencing with Section 12230) of Chapter 2, or 
remove the weapon from this state.

Interstate

Federal law exempts inheritance from using the FFL. 18 USC 922 (a)(5)

(a) It shall be unlawful -

(5) for any person ... to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any
firearm to any person ... who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to
believe does not reside in ... the State in which the transferor resides; except
that this paragraph shall not apply to 
(A) the transfer, transportation, or  delivery of a firearm made to carry out a 
bequest of a firearm to, or an acquisition by intestate succession of
a firearm by, a person who is permitted to acquire or possess a firearm under
the laws of the State of his residence, and
(B) the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful
sporting purposes;

Summary: Federal law exempts inheritors from payday loans using an FFL for interstate transfer of the inherited firearms, and California law also provides for that exemption.