INTRODUCTION

Since the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence was founded in 1993,1 the California Legislature has passed over 60 strong gun safety laws with the support of the Law Center and its coalition partners statewide. Each year, Law Center attorneys assist legislators with the development and drafting of bills to reduce gun violence, provide testimony before the Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees, and otherwise help with the passage of smart gun laws in the state.

California’s pioneering gun laws have had an enormous impact: since 1993, California has cut its rate of gun murders by 63%, its rate of fatal gun accidents by 82%, and its overall rate of gun deaths by 56%.2 The state has created a strong and effective regulatory scheme that can serve as a model for the nation.

As discussed below, the California Legislature has enacted a wide variety of innovative measures to reduce gun violence, including those to:

  • Prohibit the manufacture and sale of “unsafe handguns” — handguns that are not included on the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) roster of approved handguns because they do not meet the state’s design safety standards;
  • Require new handgun models to: 1) have chamber load indicators and magazine disconnect mechanisms to alert a firearm user that the weapon is loaded; and 2) be equipped with “microstamping” technology that imprints the firearm’s serial number and other identifying information onto a cartridge case when the gun is fired, allowing law enforcement to match cartridge cases found at a crime scene to the gun’s purchaser;
  • Require DOJ to retain copies of sales records for rifles and shotguns (in addition to handgun records);
  • Create the Armed Prohibited Persons System (“APPS”), a database that identifies firearms owners who have become prohibited from possessing guns, but who remain in illegal possession of those weapons;
  • Require gun purchasers to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate after passing a written test demonstrating knowledge of California’s firearms laws, safe storage practices and other responsibilities of gun ownership;
  • Limit the sale and purchase of handguns to one per person per 30-day period to reduce gun trafficking;
  • Establish testing standards for firearm safety devices and require that firearms made, sold or transferred in California be accompanied by a safety device and warning label regarding the risks that guns pose to children;
  • Expand the statutory definition of “assault weapon” to prohibit the manufacture and sale of firearms with certain dangerous military-style characteristics, and close the “bullet button” loophole in the state’s assault weapon ban;
  • Prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale or possession of 50 caliber rifles (military rifles that combine long range, accuracy, and massive power);
  • Regulate firearms manufacturers and dealers;
  • Prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale or possession of large capacity ammunition magazines (those capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition);
  • Provide protection to victims of domestic violence through numerous measures aimed at keeping firearms away from persons who are the subjects of protective orders or who have been convicted of a domestic violence offense;
  • Regulate transfers of firearms at gun shows and require gun show producers to have a security plan, obtain liability insurance, require firearms on the premises to be checked and tagged, and otherwise act to protect public safety;
  • Prohibit the open carrying of unloaded firearms in public;
  • Regulate ammunition sales; and
  • Allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) to temporarily limit an individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition if the court finds that the individual poses a danger to self or others.

Through the ballot initiative process, California voters have also acted to directly enact gun safety measures. In 2016, the Law Center partnered with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to craft Proposition 63 (“The Safety for All Act of 2016”), a comprehensive package of gun safety reforms passed by a strong majority of California voters. Proposition 63 included provisions to:

  • Establish a clear, verifiable process for firearm relinquishment by newly convicted felons and other criminals prohibited from possessing firearms;
  • Require gun owners to notify law enforcement regarding the loss or theft of a firearm;
  • Require ammunition sellers to obtain a state license, conduct background checks on ammunition purchasers, and maintain ammunition sale records;3
  • Prohibit the possession of large capacity ammunition magazines;4
  • Require the California DOJ to report the names of prohibited persons to the FBI;
  • Strengthen penalties for firearm theft and ensure that individuals convicted of firearm theft are prohibited from possessing firearms;
  • Require gun dealer employees to pass annual background checks as a condition of employment and require gun dealers to report the loss or theft of ammunition to law enforcement.

A summary of the most important gun safety legislation enacted since 1993 is provided below. The legislation is grouped according to the main policy area it addressed. A list of legislation arranged chronologically follows the summary.

GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION BY POLICY AREA

Assault Weapons

SB 23 (Perata): SB 23,5 enacted in 2000, created new criteria for defining the term “assault weapon” based on the general characteristics of a firearm that make it particularly dangerous, including its magazine capacity and function. The expanded definition included several types of semiautomatic centerfire rifles, semiautomatic pistols, semiautomatic shotguns and shotguns with revolving cylinders.

AB 1135 (Levine) and SB 880 (Hall),6 enacted in 2016, closed the “bullet button” loophole in California’s assault weapon law by clarifying that an ammunition magazine is “fixed” if it is contained in or permanently attached to a firearm in such a manner that the magazine cannot be removed without disassembly of the firearm action. The bills grandfathered current owners of bullet button weapons if they timely registered their weapons with DOJ.

See also Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines

Ammunition

SB 48 (Scott): SB 48,7 enacted in 2005, strengthened laws prohibiting the sale of handgun ammunition to persons under 21 and long gun ammunition to persons under 18 by removing the requirement that the seller committed an offense only if he or she knew that the purchaser was underage. The legislation added a defense for a seller who acted in reasonable reliance upon bona fide evidence of age and identification.

AB 962 (De Leon): AB 962, enacted in 2009, required persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition to: 1) maintain records containing certain identifying information about the purchaser and the ammunition being sold; and 2) store handgun ammunition so that it is inaccessible to purchasers without the assistance of the vendor. The legislation also required that ammunition sales be completed in face-to-face transactions, prohibited persons subject to gang injunctions from possessing ammunition, and prohibited ammunition sales to any person the seller knows or has cause to believe is prohibited from possessing ammunition. The provisions of AB 962 were challenged in court and the legislation never went into effect.8

SB 1235 (De Leon): SB 1235,9 enacted in 2016 after Proposition 63 qualified for the ballot, sought to comprehensively regulate ammunition sales in a manner similar to Proposition 63. SB 1235 provided that its provisions would generally become inoperative if Proposition 63 was passed by California voters, with the exception that SB 1235 sought to amend and replace Proposition 63’s ammunition background check procedures.

Proposition 63: Passed by the voters in 2016, Proposition 63 comprehensively regulated ammunition sales by, among other things, requiring ammunition sellers to obtain a license, to conduct background checks on purchasers, and to report records of ammunition sales to law enforcement. Proposition 63 also prohibited individuals from knowingly selling ammunition to straw purchasers and restricted individuals from obtaining ammunition over the Internet of from out-of-state unless the transaction was first processed through a licensed vendor in California.

Carrying Firearms

AB 304 (Scott): AB 304,10 enacted in 1997, expanded what was previously the scope of the crime of carrying a concealed firearm on the person in a vehicle to include a person who is not in control of the vehicle but is inside the vehicle.

AB 491 (Scott): AB 491,11 enacted in 1999, prohibited possession of a loaded handgun by a person who is not listed in the DOJ registry of handgun sales records as the owner of the handgun. The legislation also prohibited carrying a loaded and concealed firearm, or an unloaded and concealed firearm while the ammunition capable of being discharged from the firearm is also in the person’s immediate possession, if the person is not listed in the DOJ’s database as the owner of the firearm.

AB 144 (Portantino): AB 144,12 enacted in 2011, prohibited the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public. Prior to enactment of this measure, state law prohibited the possession of loaded firearms, except in certain unincorporated areas, but allowed the open carrying of unloaded firearms, even if the individual was also carrying ammunition on his or her person.

AB 1527 (Portantino): AB 1527,13 enacted in 2012, was a follow-up to AB 144 (above) which prohibited the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public. In response to that measure, members of the so-called “open carry movement” demonstrated by openly carrying rifles and shotguns at shopping malls, coffee shops and other crowded public places. This activity greatly alarmed the public and law enforcement statewide. AB 1527 prohibited open carrying of unloaded long guns in public. With the enactment of this legislation, the open carrying of all firearms is now generally prohibited in public places in California.

SB 707 (Wolk): SB 707,14 enacted in 2015, prohibited CCW licensees from carrying concealed firearms onto K-12, college, and university campuses without prior authorization from school, college, or university officials.

Child Access Prevention

AB 491 (Keeley): AB 491, enacted in 1997,15 expanded a prior law, which had imposed criminal liability on firearm owners who, through their negligence, enabled minors under the age of 14 to gain unsupervised access to loaded firearms if the minor used the firearm to cause injury to self or others or exhibited the weapon in public. AB 491 extended this law to apply to minors under the age of 16, rather than 14, and to circumstances where such minors carried, rather than exhibited, a loaded firearm in public. AB 491 also extended liability to include circumstances where a minor carried a handgun (whether loaded or unloaded) outside the firearm owner’s premises or used it to cause injury to self or others. It also required gun dealers to post notices about these obligations.

SB 9 (Soto): SB 9, enacted in 2001,16 extended the child access provisions above to minors under the age of 18, rather than 16. SB 9 also made it a separate offense if the minor takes the firearm to a school or a school-sponsored activity.

AB 231 (Ting & Gomez): AB 231,17 enacted in 2013, expanded California’s child access law described above, which, had previously only applied when the child carried a loaded firearm into public, or carried a handgun off premises, or killed or injured someone. AB 231 expanded that law to apply whenever a person negligently stores or leaves a loaded firearm on his or her premises in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm, regardless of whether a child actually acquires control of the firearm.

Dealer Regulations

AB 2080 (Steinberg): AB 2080,18 enacted in 2002, required DOJ to maintain information regarding federal firearms licensees (“FFLs”) and required an FFL transferring a firearm to another FFL to request verification from DOJ that the FFL is properly licensed according to state provisions.

SB 824 (Scott): SB 824,19 enacted in 2003, authorized firearms dealers to require their agents to submit to a background check and obtain a DOJ-issued certificate of eligibility (indicating that an individual is not prohibited from possessing firearms). In addition, it prohibited dealers from allowing agents to have access to firearms if the dealer knows or reasonably should know that the agent is in a prohibited category.

AB 2521 (Jones): AB 2521,20 enacted in 2006, required all FFLs transferring firearms to obtain a verification number from DOJ. The legislation also created a centralized list of FFLs who are exempt from the state’s dealer licensing requirement.21

Proposition 63:  Passed by the voters in 2016, Proposition 63 required gun dealer employees to pass annual background checks as a condition of employment and required gun dealers to report the loss or theft of ammunition to law enforcement.

Design Safety Standards for Handguns and Microstamping

SB 15 (Polanco): SB 15,22 enacted in 1999, prohibited any person from manufacturing, importing into the state for sale, offering for sale, or giving or lending any “unsafe handgun.” An unsafe handgun was defined as a handgun that lacked an appropriate safety, did not meet the state’s firing requirement, or that did not meet the state’s drop safety requirement. The bill required that DOJ certify laboratories to test handguns to determine whether they were unsafe and to create a roster of approved guns.

AB 2902 (Koretz): AB 2902,23 enacted in 2002, authorized the California Attorney General to annually retest up to 5% of handgun models on the DOJ safe handgun roster to ensure compliance with handgun safety provisions.

SB 489 (Scott): SB 489,24 enacted in 2003, expanded the definition of “unsafe handgun” to include newly designed center-fire semiautomatic pistols that do not have a chamber load indicator or magazine disconnect mechanism. As of January 1, 2007, the legislation required both features. The measure also provided a detailed definition of chamber load indicator.

AB 1471 (Feuer): AB 1471,25 enacted in 2007, required that all new handgun models manufactured for sale in California be equipped with “microstamping” technology once DOJ certified that the technology is available to more than one manufacturer unencumbered by any patent restrictions. A firearm that is equipped with microstamping utilizes lasers to engrave a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model, and serial number of the firearm.  The identifying marks are imprinted on each cartridge case when the firearm is fired, allowing law enforcement to match cartridge cases found at a crime scene to the gun’s owner. DOJ certified the microstamping technology in May of 2013.

AB 1964 (Dickenson): AB 1964,26 enacted in 2014, closed a loophole in the Unsafe Handgun Act by clarifying that the law applies to semiautomatic pistols that have been temporarily or permanently altered so that they will not fire in a semiautomatic mode.

Disarming Dangerous Persons

SB 950 (Brulte): SB 950((SB 950 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 30000 and 30005.)), enacted in 2001, required the California DOJ to establish and maintain a “Prohibited Armed Persons File,” also known as the “Armed Prohibited Persons System” (“APPS”). APPS is an online database that identifies owners of firearms who acquired and owned them legally, but who have become prohibited persons subsequent to their legal acquisition of the firearms. APPS cross-references records of prohibited persons (including criminal records, domestic violence records, restraining order records and mental health records), with records of firearms owners to identify persons who are “armed and prohibited.”

SB 819 (Leno): SB 819,27 enacted in 2011, authorized DOJ to use the Dealer’s Record of Sale (“DROS”) account to fund its efforts to disarm illegally armed prohibited persons. (The DROS account is funded by fees firearms dealers impose when a firearm is purchased.)  Prior to the enactment of this measure, DOJ relied on general funds to support its efforts to disarm prohibited gun owners identified in the APPS database.28

SB 140 (Leno/Steinberg): SB 140,29 enacted in 2013, appropriated 24 million dollars to DOJ to address a backlog in the APPS database used to identify persons prohibited from owning firearms. With more than 20,000 prohibited persons in the database and an additional 15 to 20 individuals added each day, neither DOJ nor local law enforcement had sufficient resources to address the existing backlog without this additional appropriation.

AB 539 (Pan): AB 539,30 enacted in 2013, allowed anyone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm to transfer any firearm in his or her possession to a licensed firearms dealer for storage during the duration of the prohibition.

AB 1014 (Skinner): AB 1014,31 enacted in 2014, established a procedure to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). In situations where there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO would temporarily limit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and would allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in his or her possession. The bill also authorized law enforcement officers to take temporary custody of firearms and ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident and when serving specified court orders, including a GVRO.

Proposition 63: Passed by the voters in 2016, Proposition 63 established a clear, verifiable process to ensure that people convicted of felonies and prohibiting misdemeanors relinquish their firearms after conviction by requiring them to provide proof to the courts that they sold or transferred their weapons.

Domestic Violence

SB 1278 (Hart): SB 1278,32 enacted in 1994, prohibited a person subject to a domestic violence protective order from owning or possessing a firearm while the protective order is in effect. The legislation also authorized courts to order the subject of a protective order to relinquish his or her firearms to law enforcement or sell them to a licensed dealer.

AB 2129 (Spitzer): AB 2129,33 enacted in 2006, required that any person subject to a protective order must relinquish all firearms within 24 hours after being served with the order, regardless of his or her presence in court, and must present a surrender receipt within 48 hours after being served.

SB 585 (Kehoe): SB 585,34 enacted in 2006, required any person subject to a protective order to relinquish all firearms immediately upon request of any law enforcement officer, or within 24 hours of issuance of the order. It also made failure to file a receipt of surrender in a timely manner a violation of the protective order.

AB 532 (Lieu): AB 532,35 enacted in 2009, authorized courts to issue search warrants, upon finding sufficient probable cause, to seize firearms owned by or in the possession of a person detained for a mental health examination or arrested in connection with an incident of domestic violence.

SB 1433 (Alquist): SB 1433,36 enacted in 2012, required certain courts that issue protective orders to cross-reference state firearm records to determine whether a domestic abuser owns a firearm. If records indicate that a batterer is also a gun owner, law enforcement must request that the firearms be relinquished when serving the protective order. The subject of the order has 48 hours to file a receipt with local law enforcement showing that he or she surrendered or sold the firearm.

Gun Shows

AB 295 (Corbett/Wright): AB 295,37 enacted in 1999, established broad regulations for gun shows. All firearm transfers and sales between private parties at gun shows must be processed through a licensed firearms dealer. The law required any person who promotes, produces, sponsors, operates or otherwise organizes a gun show to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from DOJ. Prior to issuing the Certificate of Eligibility, DOJ is required to perform a background check. Additionally, gun show producers must have a security plan, an insurance policy with limits of liability of at least $1 million and written contracts with all gun show vendors. AB 295 also: 1) imposed restrictions on the display of ammunition outside closed containers; 2) prohibited gun show attendees from simultaneously possessing ammunition and a firearm; 3) required the posting of specified notices about firearm laws; 4) required each vendor to provide specified information regarding persons working in the vendor’s display area; 5) required all firearms brought onto the premises to be checked and tagged; and 6) prohibited unaccompanied minors from attending a gun show.

Imitation Firearms

AB 352 (Solorio): AB 352,38 enacted in 2008, included public schools in the definition of public places where imitation firearms may not be displayed.

Immunity Statutes

SB 682 (Perata): SB 682,39 enacted in 2002, repealed state law that provided special legal protection to the gun industry.40

Interstate Firearm Sales

AB 1609 (Alejo): AB 1609,41 enacted in 2014, made it illegal to purchase any firearm outside of California and bring it into the state unless the firearm is shipped to a licensed dealer in California to complete the transaction. The California dealer making the transfer must comply with all California laws including, among others, those requiring completion of a background check and compliance with the state’s 10-day waiting period.

Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers

SB 52 /AB 35 (Scott/Shelley and Jackson): SB 52 and AB 35,42 enacted in 2001, established the handgun safety certificate requirement. The measure required certificate applicants to submit a thumbprint, provide evidence of California residency, pass a written test demonstrating knowledge of the state’s gun laws and safe storage practices, and perform a safe handling demonstration.

SB 683 (Block): SB 683,43 enacted in 2013, expanded the handgun safety certificate requirement to apply to purchases of all firearms.

Locking Devices and Safe Storage

SB 130/AB 106 (Hayden/Scott): SB 130 and AB 106,44 enacted in 1999, required DOJ to develop minimum safety standards for firearm safety devices, certify laboratories to test safety devices, and publish a roster of all safety devices that have been determined to meet DOJ standards. The measures also required that every firearm sold, transferred, or manufactured in California be accompanied by a DOJ-approved firearm safety device and a warning label reading:

Children are attracted to and can operate firearms that can cause severe injuries or death. Prevent child access by always keeping guns locked away and unloaded when not in use. If you keep a loaded firearm where a child obtains and improperly uses it, you may be fined or sent to prison.

SB 1670 (Scott): SB 1670,45 enacted in 2002, provided statutory definitions for “firearm safety device,” “gun safe,” and “long gun safe.” In addition, the measure expanded existing law, which required that a DOJ-approved firearm safety device accompany all firearms transferred by a dealer, by adding that the safety device must be identified on the roster as being appropriate for the firearm being transferred. This legislation also made it unlawful to sell or distribute commercially a firearms safety device not listed on the DOJ roster. Finally, the legislation required a warning label on any long gun safe manufactured for sale in the state that does not meet specified safety standards.

AB 500 (Ammiano): AB 500,46 enacted in 2013, required any gun owner residing with a person who is prohibited from owning firearms under state or federal law to either: 1) keep the firearm within a locked container, locked gun safe, locked trunk, locked with a locking device, or disabled by a firearm safety device; or 2) carry the firearm on his or her person. AB 500 also clarified that the ten-day waiting period between the sale of a firearm and its transfer to the purchaser may be extended an additional 30 days if DOJ is unable to obtain specified information relevant to the background check. [See also, Waiting Period section.]

SB 363 (Wright): SB 363,47 enacted in 2013, imposed criminal liability on gun owners who store their firearms in a place where they knew or reasonably should have known that a person prohibited from possessing guns under federal or state law was likely to gain access to the firearm and the prohibited person does gain such access and injures or kills someone or carries the weapon into a public place.

SB 869 (Hill): SB 869,48 enacted in 2016, required that all individuals, including law enforcement and CCW holders, safely store their handguns when leaving them in an unattended vehicle by placing them in a locked trunk or locked container placed out of plain view or permanently affixed to the vehicle.

Manufacturer Regulations and Self-Assembled Firearms

AB 2188 (Scott): AB 2188,49 enacted in 1998, required that federally licensed firearms manufacturers obtain a state license prior to manufacturing firearms in California. The legislation also required licensees to:

  • report a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours of the discovery of the loss or theft;
  • store all firearms in a secure facility meeting specified requirements;
  • record information about each firearm within one day of acquiring it;
  • allow DOJ to inspect the manufacturing facility and records during business hours; and
  • ensure that each firearm manufactured is stamped with a unique serial number.

In addition, the legislation required DOJ to maintain a centralized list of all licensed firearms manufacturers and required employees of licensees to obtain annual certificates of eligibility to possess firearms.

AB 857 (Cooper): AB 857,50 enacted in 2016, required unlicensed individuals who wish to manufacture or assemble a firearm to first apply to DOJ for a background check and unique serial number or other identifying mark for the gun, and also required that any person who, as of July 1, 2018, owns a firearm that does not bear a serial number to apply to DOJ for a unique serial number or other mark of identification. This legislation also prohibited the sale or transfer of ownership of self-assembled firearms. The bill also prohibited a person from aiding in the manufacture or assembly of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Mental Health

AB 302 (Beall): AB 302,51 enacted in 2010, required that mental health designations reported to DOJ be sent electronically (previous law required that mental health designations be reported to DOJ but not electronically).

AB 1131 (Skinner): AB 1131,52 enacted in 2013, extended the time period from six months to five years that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm if they communicated to a licensed psychotherapist a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims. AB 1131 also added a requirement that the reporting of mental health information to DOJ must made electronically.

SB 127 (Gaines): SB 127,53 enacted in 2013, added a requirement that licensed psychotherapists report any serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims to local law enforcement within 24 hours in a manner prescribed by DOJ. SB 127 also required that the local law enforcement agency receiving the report to notify DOJ electronically, within 24 hours, in a manner prescribed by DOJ.

AB 1591 (Archadjian): AB 1591,54 enacted in 2014, added a one-day time limit to the law requiring courts to notify the California DOJ if they make a determination about a person’s mental state which would prohibit him or her from possessing a gun under California law.

See also Domestic Violence.

Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines

SB 23 (Perata): SB 23,55 enacted in 2000, prohibited any person from manufacturing, importing into the state, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, giving, or lending any large capacity magazine beginning January 1, 2000. A “large capacity magazine” was defined as any ammunition feeding device with the ability to accept more than 10 rounds.

AB 50 (Koretz): AB 50,56 enacted in 2004, made it an offense for any person to manufacture, cause to be manufactured, import, transport, distribute, keep for sale, offer or expose for sale, give, lend, or possess a 50 caliber rifle. The measure also required registration of grandfathered weapons and restricted transfer, use and storage of grandfathered weapons.

AB 2728 (Klehs/DOJ): AB 2728,57 enacted in 2006, declared all assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles unlawfully held to be a public nuisance and provided for destruction of the weapons upon confiscation. It also authorized the California Attorney General to enjoin possession of such a weapon and levy a civil fine in lieu of a criminal prosecution.

AB 48 (Skinner): AB 48,58 enacted in 2013, prohibited the use of “conversion kits” to manufacture large capacity ammunition magazines. It also prohibited the purchase of large capacity ammunition magazines and amended the definition of “manufacture” to clarify that manufacturing includes assembling the parts of a magazine.

AB 170 (Bradford): AB 170,59 enacted in 2013, amended previous law which required a person wishing to acquire an assault weapon or 50 caliber rifle to obtain a permit from DOJ. To ensure that any individual possessing these weapons has passed a background check, AB 170 changed the definition of “person” in the law so that it only includes individuals and not legal entities such as corporations or partnerships.

SB 1446 (Hancock): SB 1446,60 enacted in 2016 after Proposition 63 qualified for the ballot, banned possession of large capacity ammunition magazines in a manner similar to Proposition 63.

Proposition 63: Passed by the voters in 2016, Proposition 63 prohibited possession of large capacity ammunition magazines and required individuals who possess them to transfer their magazines to law enforcement, remove them from the state, or sell them to a licensed dealer before July 1, 2017.

See also Assault Weapons.

Multiple Purchases/Sales

AB 202 (Knox): AB 202,61 enacted in 1999, prohibited firearms dealers from transferring, and individuals from purchasing, more than one handgun in a 30-day period.

Police Welfare Checks

SB 505 (Jackson): SB 505,62 enacted in 2014, added a requirement that law enforcement agencies develop and implement written policies and standard protocols pertaining to the best manner to conduct a check on the welfare of a citizen when such check is motivated by a concern that the individual may be a danger to himself or herself or to others. The policies must encourage a peace officer, prior to conducting a welfare check, and whenever possible and reasonable, to conduct a search of DOJ’s Automated Firearms System (AFS) to determine whether the person is the owner of record of any firearms.

Prohibited Persons

AB 837 (Feuer): AB 837,63 enacted in 2008, prohibited the transfer of firearms and the issuance of DOJ licenses and concealed carry permits to persons who are legally ineligible to possess firearms under either state or federal law. Prior law did not expressly authorize DOJ to withhold transfer of firearms or deny issuance of licenses and permits to a person who was ineligible based solely on federal law.

Proposition 63: Passed by the voters in 2016, Proposition 63 required DOJ to report the names of prohibited persons to the FBI.

Retention of Records

AB 809 (Feuer): AB 809,64 enacted in 2011, brought uniformity to the reporting and retention of firearm sales records in California. Law enforcement efforts to investigate gun crimes and disarm dangerous criminals are aided by the Automated Firearm System (AFS) database, which contains records of all handgun transfers. Prior to the enactment of this measure, state law required that DOJ destroy records of long gun sales instead of entered entering them into AFS. AB 809 required DOJ to input long gun sales records into the AFS database and requires information regarding long gun sales to be entered on a Dealer’s Record of Sale Form.

Trafficking and Reporting Lost/Stolen Firearms

AB 2011 (Hertzberg): AB 2011,65 enacted in 1998:

  • prohibited any person from transferring ownership of a handgun that does not bear the manufacturer’s name, make or model, and serial number or the identification number assigned to the firearm by the California DOJ;
  • required firearms dealers, when transferring a handgun, to record the DOJ-assigned identification number;
  • required local law enforcement, upon recovering an illegally possessed firearm or a firearm that was used or suspected of being used in a crime, to report all available information necessary to identify and trace the history of that firearm to DOJ; and
  • required DOJ to implement an electronic system for use in sending and receiving firearm tracing information to and from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and firearms (“ATF”).

AB 2431 (Steinberg): AB 2431,66 enacted in 2004, added requirements to the procedure for obtaining or disposing of firearms in the custody of law enforcement or a court. The legislation required that law enforcement determine, prior to returning a firearm, whether the owner is eligible to possess a firearm and whether the firearm was stolen. In addition, it required that certain records regarding the firearm be kept permanently by law enforcement or a court.

AB 1511 (Santiago): AB 1511,67 enacted in 2016, narrowed loopholes that previously allowed individuals to loan firearms to personal acquaintances for up to 30 days without a background check or record of transfer required. This bill limited the 30-day firearm loan exception to only apply to firearm loans made to a person’s spouse, domestic partner, or specified family members.

AB 1695 (Bonta): AB 1695,68 enacted in 2016, made it a misdemeanor to file a knowingly false report to law enforcement about the loss or theft of a firearm and it made that misdemeanor conviction a firearm prohibiting offense for 10 years after conviction.

Proposition 63: Passed by the voters in 2016, Proposition 63 required individuals to notify local law enforcement about the loss or theft of a firearm. It also strengthened penalties for firearm theft and clarified that individuals convicted of firearm theft are prohibited from possessing firearms

Violation of Firearms Law as Nuisance

AB 1013 (Krekorian): AB 1013,69 enacted in 2007, added unlawful possession or use of illegal weapons or ammunition on the premises of rental property to the criteria deemed to constitute commission of a nuisance for purposes of an unlawful detainer action. It also created a pilot program allowing city attorneys and prosecutors in select jurisdictions to bring unlawful detainer actions based on this criterion.

AB 2310 (Ridley-Thomas): AB 2310,70 enacted in 2014, extended AB 1013’s pilot program through January 1, 2019 and expanded it to new cities. The pilot program allows city prosecutors or city attorneys to bring unlawful detainer actions (which lead to an eviction) against tenants to abate a nuisance caused by illegal conduct involving unlawful weapons or ammunition. AB 2310 expanded the pilot program from its start in Los Angeles County, to pilot projects in Sacramento and Alameda Counties. The idea behind the pilot program is to give local law enforcement a method to evict unlawful and potentially dangerous tenants when landlords may be unwilling to act for fear of retaliation.

Waiting Periods

AB 500 (Ammiano): AB 500,71 enacted in 2013, clarified that the ten-day waiting period between the sale of a firearm and its transfer to the purchaser may be extended an additional 30 days if DOJ is unable to obtain specified information relevant to the background check.  The law also required any gun owner residing with a person who is prohibited from owning firearms under state or federal law to either: 1) keep the firearm within a locked container, locked gun safe, locked trunk, locked with a locking device, or disabled by a firearm safety device; or 2) carry the firearm on his or her person.

See also Safe Storage.

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION

1994
SB 1278 (Hart) Domestic Violence

1997
AB 304 (Scott) Carrying Firearms
AB 491 (Keeley) Child Access Prevention

1998
AB 2011 (Hertzberg) Trafficking and Reporting Lost/Stolen Firearms
AB 2188 (Scott) Manufacturer Regulations and Self-Assembled Firearms

1999
SB 15 (Polanco) Design Safety Standards for Handguns
AB 202 (Knox) Multiple Purchases/Sales
AB 491 (Scott) Carrying Firearms
SB 130/AB 106 (Hayden/Scott) Locking Devices and Safe Storage
AB 295 (Corbett/ Wright) Gun Show Regulations

2000
SB 23 (Perata) Military-Style Firearms and Ammunition Magazines

2001
SB 9 (Soto) Child Access Prevention
SB 52 /AB 35 (Scott/Shelley and Jackson) Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers
SB 950 (Brulte) Creation of the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS)

2002
AB 2080 (Steinberg) Dealer Regulations
AB 2902 (Koretz) Design Safety Standards for Handguns
SB 682 (Perata) Immunity Statutes
SB 1670 (Scott) Locking Devices and Safe Storage

2003
SB 489 (Scott) Design Safety Standards for Handguns
SB 824 (Scott) Dealer Regulations

2004
AB 50 (Koretz) Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines
AB 2431 (Steinberg) Trafficking and Reporting Lost/Stolen Firearms

2005
SB 48 (Scott) Ammunition

2006
AB 2129 (Spitzer) Domestic Violence
AB 2521 (Jones) Dealer Regulations
AB 2728 (Klehs/DOJ) Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines
SB 585 (Kehoe) Domestic Violence

2007
AB 1013 (Krekorian) Violation of Firearms Law as Nuisance
AB 1471 (Feuer) Design Safety Standards for Handguns and Microstamping

2008
AB 352 (Solorio) Imitation firearms
AB 837 (Feuer) Prohibited Persons

2009
AB 532 (Lieu) Domestic Violence
AB 962 (De Leon) Ammunition

2010
AB 302 (Beall) Mental Health

2011
AB 809 (Feuer) Retention of Records
AB 144 (Portantino) Carrying Firearms
SB 819 (Leno) Disarming Dangerous Persons

2012
AB 1527 (Portantino) Carrying Firerams
SB 1433 (Alquist) Domestic Violence

2013
AB 500 (Ammiano): Locking Devices and Safe Storage, Waiting Periods
AB 48 (Skinner): Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines
SB 683 (Block): Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers
SB 140 (Leno/Steinberg): Disarming Dangerous Persons
AB 1131 (Skinner): Mental Health
SB 127 (Gaines): Mental Health
AB 231 (Ting & Gomez): Child Access Prevention
SB 363 (Wright): Locking Devices and Safe Storage
AB 539 (Pan): Disarming Dangerous Persons
AB 170 (Bradford) Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines

2014
AB 1964 (Dickenson): Design Safety Standards for Handguns and Microstamping
AB 1014 (Skinner): Disarming Dangerous Persons (GVROs)
AB 1609 (Alejo): Interstate Firearm Sales
AB 1591 (Achadjian): Mental Health
SB 505 (Jackson): Police Welfare Checks
AB 2310 (Ridley-Thomas): Violation of Firearms Law as Nuisance

2015
SB 707 (Wolk): Concealed Weapons in Schools

2016
AB 857 (Cooper): Manufacturer Regulations and Self-Assembled Firearms
AB 1135 (Levine) & SB 880 (Hall): Assault Weapons
AB 1511 (Santiago): Limits Lending of Firearms
AB 1695 (Bonta): Trafficking and Reporting Lost/Stolen Firearms
SB 869 (Hill): Locking Devices and Safe Storage
SB 1235 (De Leon): Ammunition
SB 1446 (Hancock): Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines
PROPOSITION 63: Ammunition, Dealer Regulation, Disarming Prohibited Persons, Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines, Prohibited Persons (DOJ Reporting to FBI), Trafficking and Reporting Lost/Stolen Firearms

Notes
  1. The Law Center was formed as Legal Community Against Violence. ⤴︎
  2. California’s age-adjusted firearm homicide rate fell from 9.60 per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 3.52 per 100,000 residents in 2015; its age-adjusted unintentional firearm death rate fell from 0.39 per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 0.07 per 100,000 residents in 2015; and its overall gun death rate fell from 17.48 per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 7.65 per 100,000 residents in 2015. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2015, for National, Regional, and States (accessed Jan 10, 2017), at http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/dataRestriction_inj.html and Fatal Injury Reports, 1981-1998 (accessed (Jan. 10, 2017), at https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate9.html. ⤴︎
  3. See description of SB 1235 and Proposition 63 in the Ammunition section. ⤴︎
  4. See description of SB 1446 and Proposition 63 in the Military-Style Weapons and Ammunition Magazines section. ⤴︎
  5. SB 23’s assault weapon provisions are codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16200, 16350, 16890, 20620, 30515, 30520, 32310. ⤴︎
  6. AB 1135 and SB 880 are codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 30515, 30680, 30900. ⤴︎
  7. SB 48 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 30300, 3035, and 30310. ⤴︎
  8. A superior court enjoined the provisions of AB 962 based on a vagueness challenge to the definition of “handgun ammunition.” In 2013, the California Court of Appeals upheld this decision. The California Supreme Court has accepted a request to review the case. Parker v. California, 221 Cal. App. 4th 340 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013), request for review granted, Parker v. State, 2014 Cal. LEXIS 9581 (Cal., Aug. 29, 2014). However, this case was made moot by passage of Proposition 63 and SB 1235, enacted in 2016, which expanded AB 962’s provisions to apply to all types of ammunition. The statutes originally enacted by AB 962 are codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16150, 16650, 17315, 30300, 30305, 30306, 30310, 30312, 30347, 30350, and 30352. ⤴︎
  9. SB 1235 seeks to amend portions of Cal. Penal Code §§ 30352 and 30370, as enacted by Proposition 63 in November 2016. ⤴︎
  10. AB 304 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16750 and 25400. ⤴︎
  11. AB 491 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 16750, 16840, 17030, 25400, 25850-26025, 26030, and 26035-26055. ⤴︎
  12. AB 144 is codified at Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 7574.14, 7582.2; Cal. Penal Code §§ 626.92, 16750, 16850, 16950, 17040, 17295, 17512, 25590, 25595, 25605; and Penal Code Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 26350). ⤴︎
  13. AB 1527 is codified at Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 7574.14, 7582.2 and Cal. Penal Code §§ 626.92, 16505, 16750, 16850, 17295, 26366.5, and 26390, as well as Chapter 7 of the Penal Code (commencing with Section 26400). ⤴︎
  14. SB 707 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 626.9, 30310. ⤴︎
  15. AB 491 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 25100, 25130, 25200-25225. ⤴︎
  16. SB 9 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 25100, 25130, 25200-25225. ⤴︎
  17. AB 231 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 25100, 25110, 26835. ⤴︎
  18. AB 2080 is primarily codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16630, 26715, 27555. ⤴︎
  19. SB 824 is primarily codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 26915, 28055, 28160. ⤴︎
  20. AB 2521 is primarily codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 26500, 27555 and 28450-28490. ⤴︎
  21. Examples of exemptions include: persons who conduct “infrequent” firearms transfers (e.g., less than six handgun transfers per calendar year); an executor of an estate that includes firearms; and firearms transfers between federally licensed importers or manufacturers. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 26505-26558. ⤴︎
  22. SB 15 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 31900-31910, 32000-32030, 32100-32110. ⤴︎
  23. AB 2902 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 32020. ⤴︎
  24. SB 489 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16380, 16900, 17140, 31910, 32100-32110. ⤴︎
  25. AB 1471 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16380, 16900, and 31910. ⤴︎
  26. AB 1014 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 32100. ⤴︎
  27. SB 819 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 28225. ⤴︎
  28. DOJ maintains the Armed and Prohibited Persons database, which has identified thousands of individuals in California who are the recorded owners of tens of thousands of firearms and are also prohibited from possessing firearms under state law. SB 819 enhanced DOJ’s ability to maintain and utilize this database to disarm prohibited persons. ⤴︎
  29. SB 140 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 30015. ⤴︎
  30. AB 539 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 29810, 29825, 29830, 29850, 33870. ⤴︎
  31. AB 1014 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 1524, 1542.5, 18100-18205, 18250, and Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 8105. ⤴︎
  32. SB 1278 is codified at Cal. Family Code §§ 6385 and 6389, and Cal. Penal Code §§ 16120, 16490, 18250-18500, 29825. ⤴︎
  33. AB 2129 is codified at Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 527.9. ⤴︎
  34. SB 585 is codified at Cal. Family Code § 6389. ⤴︎
  35. AB 532 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 1524. ⤴︎
  36. SB 1433 is codified at Cal. Family Code §§ 6306, 6389 and Cal. Penal Code § 18250. ⤴︎
  37. AB 295 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16800, 27200-27245 and 27300-27350 ⤴︎
  38. AB 352 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 20170-20180. ⤴︎
  39. SB 682 is codified at Cal. Civil Code § 1714 and repealed § 1714.4. ⤴︎
  40. In 2005, however, the federal “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” became law. The Act provides general immunity to gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers whenever a person suffers harm as a result of criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm. This law effectively nullified California’s repeal of its own gun industry immunity law. See 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901–7903. ⤴︎
  41. AB 1609 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 16520, 27585, 27590, 27600, 27875, 27920, 28230. ⤴︎
  42. SB 52 and AB 35 are codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16130, 16400, 16520, 16550, 16810, 17110, 26700-26915, 27500-27590, 28150-28180, 28200-28250, 28300, 29500-29535, 31610-31835. ⤴︎
  43. SB 683 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16535, 16865, 26840, 26860, 27540, 27875, 27880, 27920, 27925, 28160, 31610-31650, 31810. ⤴︎
  44. SB 130 and AB 106 are codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 23620-23690 (except for §§ 23635 and 23655 (see SB 1670 below). ⤴︎
  45. SB 1670 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16540, 16610, 16870, 23635, and 23655. ⤴︎
  46. AB 500 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 16520, 16540, 16850, 17060, 23510, 25135, 28220, 28255. ⤴︎
  47. SB 363 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 25100, 25200, 32000, 32015. ⤴︎
  48. SB 869 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 25140, 25452, 25612, 26545. ⤴︎
  49. AB 2188 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16450, 16520, 29010 and 29030-29150. ⤴︎
  50. AB 857 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 16520, 23910, 29180-29184, and 30105. ⤴︎
  51. AB 302 is codified at Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 8103. ⤴︎
  52. AB 1131 is codified at Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 8100, 8102, 8103, 8104, 8105. ⤴︎
  53. SB 127 is codified at Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 8105. ⤴︎
  54. AB 1591 is codified at Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 8103. ⤴︎
  55. SB 23 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 32310, 32315, 32390, 32400-32450. ⤴︎
  56. AB 50 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 245, 30500, 30505, 30525, 30530, 30600, 30610, 30615, 30625-30630, 30640-30675, 30905, 30930-30965, 31000-31005, 310500-31055, 31100-31115. ⤴︎
  57. AB 2728 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 30520 and 30800. ⤴︎
  58. AB 48 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 32310, 32311. ⤴︎
  59. AB 170 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 16970, 31000, 31110, 32650. ⤴︎
  60. SB 1446 seeks to amend certain provisions of Proposition 63 at Cal. Pen Code §§ 32310, 32400, 32405, 32406, 32410, 32425, 32430, 32435, and 32450. ⤴︎
  61. AB 202 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 27535, 27540. ⤴︎
  62. SB 505 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 11106.4 ⤴︎
  63. AB 837 is codified at Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 7583.24, 7583.25, 7583.27, 7596.8, 7596.81, and 7596.83, Cal. Govt. Code § 12811.3, Cal. Health & Safety Code § 12101, and Cal. Penal Code §§ 832.15, 832.16, 832.17, 13511.5, 18900,23925, 25610, 26180, 26185, 26195, 26210, 26705, 26710, 26815, 27540, 27885, 27920, 28220, 29120, 30005, 30105, 30950. ⤴︎
  64. AB 809 is codified at Cal. Bus. & Prof Code § 21628.2 and Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 17000, 26600, 26610, 26615, 26805, 26820, 26840-26850, 26865, 26890, 26905, 26955-26965, 27050, 27060, 27065, 27130, 27400, 27410, 27415, 27540, 27560, 27565, 27590, 27600, 27610, 27615, 27655, 27660, 27665, 27730, 27860, 27875, 27880, 27920, 27966, 28000, 28060, 28100, 28160, 28170, 28180, 28210-28220, 28230, 28240, 28245, 28400, 28410, 28415, 30105, 30150, 30160, 30165, 31705, 31715, 31720, 31735, 33850, 33860, 33865, 34355, 34365, 34370. ⤴︎
  65. AB 2011 is primarily codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11108.3, 11108.9, 25400, 27530, 23920-23925, 28150-28180. ⤴︎
  66. AB 2431 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 18000, 18005, 18250-18500, 19190, 21390, 21590, 25700, 26590, 29300, 33800, 33850-33895, and 34000-34010, and repealed Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 8107. ⤴︎
  67. AB 1511 is codified at Cal. Penal Code § 27880. ⤴︎
  68. AB 1695 is codified at Cal. Pen. Code §§ 148.5 and 29805. ⤴︎
  69. AB 1013 is codified at Cal. Civil Code § 3485 and Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1161. ⤴︎
  70. AB 2310 is codified at Cal. Civil Code § 3485. ⤴︎
  71. AB 500 is codified at Cal. Penal Code §§ 11106, 16520, 16540, 16850, 17060, 23510, 25135, 28220, and 28255. ⤴︎