Top Gun Firearms - Discounted Firearms, Accessories, and Specialty Gear

Home Up Feedback Contents

New CA Gun Laws


NEW CA GUN LAWS AND OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

The following is list of new CA gun laws that go into effect on January 1, 2003, and they affect the requirements for acquiring both handguns and long guns. If you are planning on acquiring either, you would be well advised to read this and get up-to-speed on these new laws. At the end of this review, I’ve also included is a list of "Prohibited Offenses", which means, under CA law, if any of these apply to you, you cannot legally possess a firearm in CA. I’ve included this offense list because most people have no idea of what it covers.

Laws Effective January 1, 2003

  1. Effective January 1, 2003, the Basic Firearms Safety Certificate (BFSC) will become invalid and replaced by the Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC). This requires that you pass a much more detailed and thorough test than for the BFSC, and it has to be administered by a CA Department of Justice (DOJ) Certified Instructor. Fortunately, the DOJ offered certification training to all CA firearms dealers and most of us took the class, so there should be at least one Certified Instructor at most handgun dealers stores. The Certified Instructor will provide you with the new study guide, administer the test, and issue the new HSC card.
  2. The fee for the HSC will be $25, as opposed to the $20 that was charged for the BFSC. In addition, the HSC is only valid for 5 years, as opposed to the BFSC, which was supposed to be good indefinitely. You must provide the dealer with a copy of your HSC prior to taking delivery of a handgun. It’s no longer good enough for you to just show it to him and have him record the certificate number like we did with the BFSC.
  3. There are some exemptions to the requirement for having an HSC to acquire a handgun. These include a "special weapons" permit holder, a pawn return, a licensed gun dealer or collector, active, reserve, or honorably retired military personnel, active, reserve, or retired peace officers, and a handgun exchange between certain immediate family members. Two exemptions that previously applied with the BFSC, however, have been eliminated – having a CA hunting license and honorably discharged military personnel. The latter I don’t understand. Why are active, reserve, and honorably retired military personnel exempt, but honorably discharged aren’t? I asked the DOJ about this and they are just as perplexed as I am, but that’s the way the new HSC law is written and only the legislature can change it.  If you are an honorably discharged military man or woman and are insulted by this, contact CA State Senator Jack Scott of Altadena and tell him how you feel about it. He wrote the HSC law and intentionally excluded you. His e-mail is senator.scott@sen.ca.gov .
  4. Effective January 1, 2003, before you can take delivery of a handgun you must demonstrate to the Certified Instructor correct and proper safe handling of the gun. The Certified Instructor will walk you through this and be sure that you thoroughly understand the way your handgun functions, how to safely load and unload it, and how to install and remove whatever type of gun lock is supplied with it. After you do the demonstration, both you and the dealer must sign an affidavit attesting to you successfully completing the demonstration.
  5. Effective January 1, 2003, you will be required to put your right thumbprint on the Dealers Record of Sale (DROS) document. That’s the document we fill out when we take the information to run your background check. I’m not real sure what the purpose of this is, since we don’t send in the thumbprint to the DOJ. We just keep it in our files and it’s not even used as part of your background check.
  6. Effective January 1, 2003, there’s an additional Proof-of-Residency requirement. You must have a valid CA Driver’s License or CA ID Card and you must bring a copy of other documentation indicating that you are a CA resident. Acceptable documentation includes a utility bill from within the last three months, a residential lease, auto registration, a property deed,or military permanent duty station orders indicating assignment within California. Unacceptable documentation includes, but is not limited to, a passport, an account statement from a financial institution, and a pay stub.

Firearms Safety Devices (Gun Locks): Although this law took effect on January 1, 2002, I want to remind you about it again. Every firearm sold in CA, whether new or used, must include a "CA Department of Justice Approved" gunlock. This means that not just any gunlock will do. It must be on a list published by the CA DOJ.  So, although most manufacturers ship their guns with a lock designed to work with it, this isn’t good enough unless the state of CA has tested and certified it. The gun cannot be released to you unless the gun comes with a CA DOJ certified gunlock, or you already have a CA DOJ certified gun lock that you purchased within 30 days of picking up the gun and have a receipt to prove it. You must bring the lock and a copy of the receipt with you when you pick up the gun. The dealer must keep the copy of the receipt with your purchase paperwork. The purpose of this 30-day requirement is to prevent people from bringing the same lock with them over and over again for every gun purchase. The law requires that you have a separate lock for every gun you purchase. If the lock that comes with the gun is not CA DOJ certified, the dealer is required by law to confiscate it and substitute a certified lock. The cost of the substituted lock is generally about $10. You can view the list of certified locks at the DOJ’s Firearms Division web site at http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/index.html. You have an "out" on this requirement, however, if you own a CA DOJ approved gun safe or "lock box". If you do, then all you have to do is fill out an affidavit attesting to that when you pick up the gun. Most dealers should have the affidavit forms. Although you can find this on the DOJ web site, as a matter of convenience, the following is what CA law considers an acceptable gun safe.

An acceptable gun safe, as defined by Section 977.50 of the CA Code of Regulations, is either one of the following:

  1. A gun safe that is able to fully contain firearms and provide for their safe storage, and is listed as an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Residential Security Container. A UL Residential Security Container will bear a mark identifying itself as meeting the UL Residential Security Container requirements.

     2.  A gun safe that meets ALL of the following standards:

  1. Shall be able to fully contain firearms and provide for their secure storage.
  2. Shall have a locking system consisting of, at minimum, a mechanical or electronic combination lock. The mechanical or electronic combination lock utilized by the safe shall have at least 10,000 possible combinations consisting of a minimum of three numbers, letters, or symbols. The lock shall be protected by a case-hardened (Rockwell C 60+) drill resistant steel plate, or drill resistant material of equivalent strength.
  3. Boltwork shall consist of a minimum of three steel locking bolts of at least inch thickness that intrude from the door of the safe into the body of the safe or from the body of the safe into the door of the safe, which are operated by a separate handle and secured by a lock.
  4. A gun safe shall be capable of repeated use. The exterior walls shall be constructed of a minimum of 12-gauge thick steel for a single-walled safe, or the sum of the steel walls shall add up to at least .100 inches for safes with two walls. Doors shall be constructed of a minimum of one layer of 7-gauge steel plate reinforced construction or at least two layers of a minimum 12-gauge steel compound construction.
  5. Door hinges shall be protected to prevent the removal of the door. Protective features include, but are not limited to, hinges not exposed to the outside, interlocking door designs, dead bars, jeweler’s lugs, and active or inactive locking bolts.

In summary, here are quick reference tables of CA requirements for handgun and long gun sales and transfers:

HANDGUNS

Requirement

Retail Sales

Private Party Transfers

Intra-Family Transfers

Pawn Returns

Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Proof-of-Residency

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Safe Handling Demonstration

Yes

Yes

No

No

Firearms Safety Device

Yes

Yes

No

No

DOJ Certified Handgun

Yes

No

No

No

One Gun per 30 Days

Yes

No

No

No

 

LONG GUNS

Requirement

Retail Sales

Private Party Transfers

Intra-Family Transfers

Pawn Returns

Proof-of-Residency

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Safe Handling Demonstration

No

No

No

No

Firearms Safety Device

Yes

Yes

No

No

One Gun per 30 Days

No

No

No

No

The following is a list of categories of persons and offenses that make it illegal for you to own a gun in CA. I’ve tried to make this list as clear and simple as possible. But, where specific Penal Code (PC) and Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) sections are unavoidably referenced, go to the Dangerous Weapons Control Law section of the CA DOJ web site at http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/index.html to find and read them. They are way too lengthy and full of legalese to include here.

State of CA Firearms Prohibiting Categories

Unless otherwise stated, if you fall into any of the following categories you are prohibited from possessing a firearm in CA for life.

  1. Person convicted of a felony or any offense in section 12021.1 of the Penal Code.
  2. Person who is a fugitive from justice.
  3. Person while under indictment for just about anything.
  4. Person who’s addicted to drugs.
  5. Person denied a firearm as a condition of probation.
  6. Juveniles who are or were wards of the juvenile court because of some crime they committed can’t own a firearm until they reach age 30.
  7. Person who has just about any kind of restraining order filed against them can’t possess a firearm while the restraining order is in effect.
  8. Person found by a court to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, found not guilty to some crime by reason of insanity, or found to be a mentally disordered sex offender.
  9. Person placed under a conservatorship because of a mental disorder or alcoholism.
  10. Person who communicates a threat to a licensed psychotherapist against someone else and the psychotherapist reports it to law enforcement is prohibited from possessing a firearm for the next six months.
  11. Person taken into custody as a danger to self or others and committed to a mental health facility is prohibited from possessing a firearm for the next 5 years.
  12. Person who is a voluntary patient in a mental health facility is prohibited from possessing a firearm between admission and release.

Firearms Prohibiting Misdemeanors

Any person convicted of any of the following misdemeanors is prohibited from owning a firearm in CA for 10 years following the conviction.

  1. Threatening public officers, public employees, school officials, public appointees, judges or their staff or immediate families.
  2. Intimidating witnesses or victims.
  3. Attempting to take a firearm away from a police officer.
  4. Unauthorized possession of just about any kind of weapon in a state or local public building or at a public meeting.
  5. Possessing a loaded firearm within the state capitol or legislative offices.
  6. Possessing a loaded firearm within the governor’s mansion or the residence or any other constitutional officer.
  7. Providing a firearm to a person for use by a criminal street gang.
  8. Assault or battery on anyone.
  9. Assault with a stun gun, taser, deadly weapon, or any instrument likely to produce great bodily injury.
  10. Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or just plain grossly negligent discharge of a firearm.
  11. Willful infliction of physical injury on a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of a child of one of these people.
  12. Violation of a court order against harassment, disturbing the peace, threats or acts of violence, or violating a domestic protective/restraining order.
  13. Drawing, exhibiting, or using any deadly weapon other than a firearm for any reason except self-defense.
  14. Drawing or exhibiting a firearm in the presence of a police officer.
  15. Purchasing, selling, manufacturing, shipping, transporting, distributing, or receiving an imitation firearm. This does not include obvious toys.
  16. Inflicting serious bodily injury by drawing or exhibiting a firearm or any other deadly weapon.
  17. Threatening to commit any crime that might result in the death or great bodily injury to another person.
  18. Possessing a firearm in a school zone or on school grounds.
  19. Willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following or harassing another person (stalking).
  20. Carrying a loaded firearm with the intent to commit a felony.
  21. Possessing any deadly weapon with the intent to assault anyone.
  22. Allowing a firearm in or to be discharged from a motor vehicle that you own or are driving (no matter who in the vehicle has possession of the firearm).
  23. Criminal possession of a firearm in public while wearing a mask.
  24. Unauthorized possession, transportation, manufacture, or sale of a machinegun.
  25. Possession of armor piercing ammunition.
  26. Carrying a concealed or loaded firearm or any deadly weapon or wearing a police uniform while picketing. (Does this include real cops?)
  27. Bringing or sending contraband into or possessing contraband within a juvenile or youth authority institution. (Contraband could be a pack of cigarettes)
  28. Firearms prohibitions as specified in sections 8100, 8101, & 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code (You gotta look this up yourself).

Miscellaneous Information

Armed Prohibited Persons File

This builds a database of everyone in CA who has registered a firearm of any kind since January 1, 1991. The purpose of this database is to match everyone who falls within a "firearms disqualifying category" in CA with those who own firearms. So, if you are convicted of any of the 40 felonies or misdemeanors listed above that disqualify you from owning a firearm in CA, you could be ordered to surrender all your firearms.

Prohibited Persons Notice Form and Power of Attorney for Firearms Transfer and Disposal

If you commit any one of 40 different crimes listed above (and were caught and convicted), a number of which are misdemeanors and have nothing to do with firearms – including getting a restraining order filed against you by almost anyone – you have to get rid of all of your firearms. That’s nothing new, though. It’s just that no one ever had to tell you about it before. What this bill does is require all CA State Courts, Firearms Dealers, and Mental Health Facilities to provide you with a form that informs you that you must dispose of all your firearms and how. So, how does this work. Well, as far as the courts are concerned, if you’re convicted of one of the disqualifying crimes, the court must immediately provide you with a copy of this form. For firearms dealers, if you try to buy a gun don’t pass the DOJ background check, the dealer has to now provide you with one of these forms. Strangely enough, mental health facilities are only "encouraged" to provide this form to a mentally ill person upon their release.

Now for the form itself. The title of the form is "Power of Attorney Declaration For Firearms Transfer and Disposal". What this means is, once you are handed this form you must find a third party who can legally possess firearms (although it doesn’t say how promptly), fill it out, have it witnessed, and assign "Power of Attorney" to that person. They then must take control and possession of all your firearms and dispose of them as they see fit within 30 days. By the way, there’s no requirement to compensate you for the value of your guns. A small loophole, though, is that there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for verification that you actually got rid of your guns. For example, if a firearms dealer hands you the form you just walk out the door with it. The dealer isn’t required to verify you actually did anything with it or report to anyone that you were given the form. As for the courts, I guess a judge could require you to return the completed form at some point, but nothing is mentioned about that either. Basically, the whole thing seems to rather poorly thought out and provides no means of enforcement. On the other hand, if you’re in the database I just mentioned above, they could, theoretically, come after your firearms before you can even get around to the "power of attorney" option. I’ve already read about this happening a number of times, so don't discount it.  If you want to see a copy of the form, go to the DOJ web site at http://www.ag.ca.gov/firearms/.

If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to e-mail topgunfirearms@prodigy.net and I’ll try to help you out.

 

Home ] Up ]

Contact kas9@mindspring.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2000 Top Gun Firearms
Last modified: September 09, 2001