The Handgun Safety Certificate

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Revision as of 21:41, 4 January 2015 by John.Simutis (Talk | contribs) (Update for 2015 FSC)

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Effective January 1, 2015, the HSC - Handgun Safety Certificate - has been superseded by the FSC - Firearms Safety Certificate.

An unexpired HSC is still valid for handgun purchases.


From 1994 to 2003, California required a Basic Firearms Safety Certificate (BFSC) to purchase a handgun. The BFSC was good for life, and the requirement was waived for military veterans and for those who had a hunting license.

Senators Scott and Perata introduced SB52 in 2000 to replace the BFSC with the Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC). This bill also introduced the safe handling demonstration.

In 2013, SB-683 established a successor to the Handgun Safety Certificate, the Firearms Safety Certificate.


The HSC requirement is in Penal Code 31615 (was 12071(b)(8)(B)).

31615.  (a) A person shall not do either of the following:
  (1) Purchase or receive any firearm, except an antique firearm,
without a valid firearm safety certificate, except that in the case
of a handgun, an unexpired handgun safety certificate may be used.
  (2) Sell, deliver, loan, or transfer any firearm, except an
antique firearm, to any person who does not have a valid firearm
safety certificate, except that in the case of a handgun, an
unexpired handgun safety certificate may be used.
  (b) Any person who violates subdivision (a) is guilty of a
  (c) The provisions of this section are cumulative, and shall not
be construed as restricting the application of any other law.
However, an act or omission punishable in different ways by
different provisions of this code shall not be punished under more
than one provision.
  (d) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2015.

A handgun buyer or transferee must have a Handgun Safety Certificate, and present it to the dealer before the dealer can deliver a handgun. Once the HSC has expired, the firearms purchaser must test for and obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate (FSC).

Prior holders of a BFSC must obtain a FSC; the BFSC is no longer accepted.

The FSC is valid for five years and must be renewed.


One obtains a Handgun Safety Certificate by taking and passing a multiple choice test -- you must score at least 75% (23 correct answers out of 30 questions) -- and paying a fee of $25.

One can review for the HSC test by downloading the Handgun Safety Certificate Study Guide (.pdf) from the DOJ.

You may take the test only from a DOJ Certified Instructor. Generally a dealer's place of business will have one or more staff members who are certified.

Minimum Qualifications

According to the DOJ's FAQ:

 Are there any minimum qualifications/requirements for a person
who wants to take the Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC) test?

The only requirements are that the Handgun Safety Certificate
(HSC) applicant must be at least 18 years of age and must
present clear evidence of identity and age by presenting a
California Driver's License or California Department of Motor
Vehicles Identification Card.


The DOJ lists the exemptions from obtaining the HSC in their HSC FAQ:

Are the exemptions from the Handgun Safety Certificate Program 
requirements the same exemptions as those under the old Basic 
Firearms Safety Certificate (BFSC) Program?

No. The most common exemptions under the Basic Firearms Safety
Certificate (BFSC) law that were removed under the new Handgun
Safety Certificate (HSC) law are: 1) persons who hold a valid
hunting license issued by the State of California; 2) persons
who were honorably discharged from the military; and 3)
firearms dealers when acquiring a handgun for their personal
ownership, regardless of whether the handgun is acquired from
another dealer or from the dealer's own inventory. These
exemptions to BFSC do not apply to HSC.

What are the Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC) requirement exemption

   * X01 = Special Weapons Permit Holder
   * X02 = Operation of Law Representative
   * X03 = Handgun being returned to the owner
   * X13 = FFL collector with COE (curio and relic handguns only)
   * X21 = Military - Active Duty
   * X22 = Military - Reserve
   * X25 = Military - Honorably Retired
   * X31 = Peace Officer - California - Active
   * X32 = Peace Officer - Federal - Active
   * X33 = Peace Officer - California - Honorably Retired
   * X34 = Peace Officer - California - Reserve
   * X35 = Peace Officer - Federal - Honorably Retired
   * X41 = Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) Permit Holder
   * X81 = P.O.S.T. 832 PC (Firearms) Training
   * X91 = Particular and Limited Authority Peace Officers
   * X95 = Law Enforcement Service Gun to Family Member

These exemptions also exempt the individual from the safe handling demonstration.