California Gun Laws Overview

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Jun 29, 2022 | California Law
California Gun Laws Overview

Some federal laws, such as the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, already regulate access to guns. New legislation is in the works that would tighten regulation at the federal level.

All states and some local governments have their own gun laws regulating firearms. With over 100 laws regulating firearms and additional legislation likely, California is one of the most heavily-regulated states for gun owners.

Whether you own a gun or are thinking of purchasing one, you need to be aware of the gun laws in California.

Requirements for Purchasing a Gun in California

You don’t have to have a permit to buy a gun in California, but there are several requirements and prerequisites to obtaining a firearm:

  • With a few exceptions, you must be age 21 to buy a handgun
  • There’s a 10-day waiting period to buy any type of gun
  • Background checks are required for all gun purchases in California. This applies to private sales and gun-show sales.
  • You must be a CA resident
  • You must have a valid driver’s license or state-issued ID card
  • You must pass a test to obtain a gun safety certificate.

While you must be 21 to purchase a handgun, you can buy a long gun at the age of 18 in California. Ammunition must be purchased from a licensed vendor.

What Firearms Are Banned in California?

Several types of firearms are prohibited in California. It is illegal to manufacture, sell, transport, distribute, give away, or import assault weapons or BMG rifles in California.

It’s also illegal to possess, make, or sell:

  • Short-barrelled rifles
  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Undetectable guns (made of plastic or ceramic that won’t set off a metal detector)
  • Zip guns

If you currently own an assault weapon, you must register it with the Department of Justice. The law is constantly changing, so other guns or ammunition could soon be banned or age-restricted.

Criminal Convictions May Prohibit You From Owning a Gun in California

Convictions for certain crimes can affect your right to own a gun. If you’re unsure whether you have a record that prohibits you from owning a gun, you can request a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check from the Department of Justice. This will let you know whether you can legally purchase a firearm based on your previous criminal offenses.

Convictions that generally get you banned from owning a firearm include:

  • Felonies (even if convicted in another state or country)
  • Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Violent use of a firearm
  • Brandishing a firearm in public

The law in California also puts you in this category of “felon with a firearm” and bans you from owning a gun if you’re addicted to narcotics. Relinquishing your firearm is often a condition of probation.

You can also be prohibited from buying a gun if you’re a convicted sex offender with a mental disorder or if you’ve been determined incompetent to stand trial. A number of other convictions or conditions could prohibit you from possessing a firearm.

Carrying a Firearm in California

It doesn’t matter if the gun is loaded or unloaded; it’s generally against the law to openly carry a firearm in public. There are some exceptions for which you can get a permit, but for the most part, it’s prohibited. You can get a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed handgun. Carrying a gun without a permit can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

Does California Have a Red-Flag Law?

Yes, and it has recently been expanded. Family members, employers, coworkers, and school employees can file a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) to prevent an individual suspected of being a danger to themselves and others from possessing a gun or ammunition.

A GVRO is not a restraining order and does not prevent the individual from making contact with anyone. After a hearing, a GVRO can keep guns away from someone for one to five years.

Gun Laws and Criminal Charges in California

Gun laws carry their own penalties, but you can also face increased penalties if the crime involved the use of a firearm. For example, assault can become assault with a deadly weapon if you had a gun while committing an assault.

Certain criminal convictions can mean losing your right to own a gun for life. Felony convictions usually result in a lifetime ban. Other convictions may cost you 10 years without a weapon. In some cases, you may be able to petition to have your gun rights restored, but it is a complex and difficult process that requires the help of a lawyer.

If you’ve been charged with a crime involving possessing, selling, or transporting a firearm, or if you have been charged with a crime that you fear could affect your right to possess a gun, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney near you to understand your legal options.

Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Rodriguez Law Group Today For Help

For more information please contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense law firm of The Rodriguez Law Group for a free consultation, give us a call at (213) 995-6767 or visit our convenient location:

The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States