Moving to California with firearms

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Revision as of 00:45, 14 December 2008 by John.Simutis (Talk | contribs) (Active Duty Military and 'assault weapons')

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Moving to California with Firearms

A person moving to California may bring his/her firearms.

Long Guns

Long guns, not California "assault weapons", are entirely unregulated.

The discussion of what makes a long gun a California 'assault weapon' is outside the scope of this article.

Active Duty Military and 'assault weapons'

Active duty military with PCS (permanent change of station) orders to California and who own personal weapons California defines as 'assault weapons' should contact the California Department of Justice regarding a Military Assault Weapon Permit (MAWP). CA-DOJ also suggests you contact your base/station/post legal staff for assistance.

CA-DOJ does not maintain application forms on line for the MAWP, and does not provide any documentation or guidance on line.

With a MAWP, the service member may bring those weapons on the permit into California.

Once obtained, the MAWP may be renewed annually. If the service member separates from Active Duty while in California, the MAWP is no longer effective, and the 'assault weapons' become illegal and must be removed from the state or otherwise handled according to law.

DOJ Contact Information: General Information Phone: (916) 263-4887 Fax: (916) 263-0676

Assault Weapon Registration and Special Weapon Permits Phone: (916) 263-8100 Fax: (916) 263-0790

Bureau of Firearms P.O. Box 820200 Sacramento, CA 94203-0200


Handguns are exempt from Roster

Handguns moved here from out of state are exempt from California's Roster of Handguns

Handguns must not be 'assault weapons'

Handguns must not be California 'assault weapons' per Penal Code 12276.1

  (4) A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a
detachable magazine and any one of the following:
  (A) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor,
forward handgrip, or silencer.
  (B) A second handgrip.
  (C) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely
encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon
without burning his or her hand, except a slide that encloses the
  (D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location
outside of the pistol grip.
  (5) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the
capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

Handguns must be registered

If one brings handguns into the state when moving here, one is defined to be a personal handgun importer. PC 12072(f)(2) requires

(2) (A) On or after January 1, 1998, within 60 days of bringing a
pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon
the person into this state, a personal handgun importer shall do 
one of the following:
  (i) Forward by prepaid mail or deliver in person to the  
Department of Justice, a report prescribed by the department  
including information concerning that individual and a description
of the firearm in question.
  (ii) Sell or transfer the firearm in accordance with the
provisions of subdivision (d) or in accordance with the provisions
of an exemption from subdivision (d).
  (iii) Sell or transfer the firearm to a dealer licensed pursuant 
to Section 12071.
  (iv) Sell or transfer the firearm to a sheriff or police

Note that the requirement is to do one of those things within 60 days of bringing the gun into the state, not the date you move here. So long as you owned the handgun legally out of state, you may move it here at any time after you have relocated to California.

The registration form

CA-DOJ keeps many forms on line. The .PDF version of the personal handgun importer form, referenced in (2)(A)(i), above, is New Resident Handgun Ownership Report.

Magazines must be 10 rounds or fewer

With the law as it is in December 2008, it is illegal to bring large-capacity magazines, magazines holding 11 or more rounds, into California, even if the magazines and gun using them were legally owned outside of California, and even if there are no 10-round or fewer magazines made for your gun.

This is true for both long guns and handguns.