The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides people with the right to bear arms.
Further, California gun laws allow most adults age 21 and older to:
- own, and
- possess a gun.
California laws, though, provide some limitations on this right. For example, State law:
- prohibits some people from acquiring or possessing a gun, and
- requires Californians to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) prior to legally acquiring a gun.
People prohibited from possessing a gun
The following people are generally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun in California:
- convicted felons,1
- narcotic addicts,2
- persons with two or more convictions under Penal Code Section 417 PC, California’s law against brandishing a weapon,3
- persons convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses (for example, corporal injury to a spouse, per California Penal Code 273.5 PC and crimes involving domestic violence),4
- persons who suffer from mental illness,5 and
- people under 18 (this group of people, though, can own a BB gun if they have parental consent).6
Note that California’s red flag law also allows coworkers, employers, and teachers to seek restraining orders to remove guns from the possession of potentially dangerous people.7These orders are sometimes referred to as “gun violence restraining orders,” or GVROs.
Also note that if a person is prohibited from owning a gun, then he/she is also prohibited from owning any ammunition.8
If a person does not fall into one of the above-prohibited categories, then he/she can legally buy and possess a gun.
These persons may legally keep a gun within their house or a place of business that they own. Gun owners may also legally carry a gun from place to place provided that it is in a locked container.9
Firearm Safety Certificates
Per Penal Code 26840 PC, any person who acquires a firearm must have a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC).10 In the case of a handgun, it is permissible if the owner has an expired handgun safety certificate.11
The above statute applies unless a person is exempt under the law from having to have a certificate. An example of an exempt person is someone that:
- was issued a valid hunting license, and
- wants to own or possess long guns.12
To obtain an FSC, a person must pass a California Department of Justice (DOJ) written test on firearm safety.
M., D. (2022, March 27). California gun laws 2022 – your top 12 questions answered. Shouse Law Group. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/defense/gun-laws/