Posted on January 2, 2012
Last updated December 9, 2013
In our publication 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter, the Law Center ranked each state based on a review of state laws in 30 different firearms-related policy areas. California ranked 1st out of 50 – having enacted some of the strongest gun laws in the country.
In 2013, the California legislature enacted new laws that relate to firearms. These new laws are described below.
Laws that Strengthen Gun Regulation
|CA S 140||Provides funding to the Department of Justice to address the backlog in the Armed Prohibited Persons System.|
|CA A 48||Bans “conversion kits” that create large capacity ammunition magazines|
|CA A 170||Prevents corporations, partnerships, and other organizational “persons” from receiving a permit to own an assault weapon.|
|CA A 231||Expands child access prevention law to cover anytime a weapon is left in a place where a child may gain access to it.|
|CA A 500||Requires safe storage of firearms for people living with prohibited persons. Allows the Department of Justice to obtain an additional 30 days to conduct a background check when the ordinary 10 day period is insufficient.|
|CA A 539||Allows prohibited people to transfer their firearms to a firearms dealer to hold for them until they become eligible to possess a firearm again.|
|CA A 1131||Extends the prohibition on owning a firearm for persons who have made specific credible threats to a psychotherapist from six months to five years. Makes reporting of such threats to the Department of Justice electronic.|
|CA S 363||Holds firearm owners liable for leaving guns where a prohibited person is likely to gain access if such a person does gain access and takes the gun into a public place or harms someone with it.|
|CA S 683||Requires all gun purchasers to obtain a firearm safety certificate (previously handguns only).|
|CA S 127||Requires electronic reporting of credible threats against specific people to the Department of Justice.|
Last updated February 24, 2012
** Please note that, effective January 1, 2012, many of California’s firearms laws were renumbered. Please review this disposition table for more information. **
Among other things, California:
- Requires all gun sales to be processed through a licensed dealer, requiring a background check;
- Requires gun dealers to obtain a state license;
- Bans most assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles, and prohibits the sale or transfer of large capacity ammunition magazines;
- Requires all firearms purchasers to obtain a license, after passing a written test;
- Regulates gun shows;
- Limits handgun purchases to one per person per month;
- Prohibits the sale of “unsafe handguns” not on the roster of approved handguns;
- Imposes a ten-day waiting period prior to the sale or transfer of a firearm;
- Maintains permanent records of firearm sales;
- Gives local law enforcement discretion to deny a license to carry a concealed weapon; and
- Gives local governments authority to regulate firearms and ammunition, although the state legislature has expressly removed this authority in certain areas.
In addition, in 2007, California became the first jurisdiction in the nation to require handgun microstamping.
In 2010, California had the 9th lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. In 2008 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), 3,081 people were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in California.
Based on data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, California consistently ranks among the top ten suppliers of guns recovered after being used in crimes in other states. However, when population is taken into account, California is the fifth lowest supplier of guns recovered from crimes in other states. In addition, California is the fourth largest supplier (among the states) of crime guns to Mexico when population is taken into account. Note, however, that California supplies crime guns to Mexico at less than one-third the rate of Arizona, the top supplier of crime guns to Mexico.
Municipalities across California have enacted a variety of gun violence prevention ordinances to make their communities safer. For more information on local ordinances in California, download our publication Communities on the Move 2000: How California Communities Are Addressing the Epidemic of Handgun Violence.
California Firearms Laws
For details about specific California firearms laws, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in this state.