Purchasing a Firearm

(Readers Digest Version)

California’s firearms laws are some of the most stringent in the United States and are sometimes quite difficult to understand and comply with.


To purchase a firearm in California, you must be:

  • 18 years or older to buy a rifle or shotgun
  • 21 years or older to buy a handgun
  • A California resident with proof of residency and proof of current address
  • May not be a criminal; no felony convictions of any kind, no misdemeanor convictions for assault, battery, domestic violence or be the subject of a restraining order……hopefully, you get the idea……
  • Limit of one handgun purchase per 30 day period, no limit on rifles or shotguns
  • Purchaser must have a ‘Firearms Safety Card’ issued by the California Justice Department OR a Concealed Weapon Carry card (CCW) or be active military or full time federal, state or municipal law enforcement
  • Capable of passing a background check conducted by California Department of Justice
  • 10 day waiting period between date of purchase and date of acquisition


Probably the best way to buy or sell a used handgun, rifle or shotgun is from someone you already know. These transactions have no limits on the number of handguns, rifles or shotguns transferred at one time between two parties. They are not subject to sales tax and are not regulated by California DOJ’s ‘List of Handguns Approved For Sale in California’ rule, and the dealer is limited on the amount charged per transaction. The 10 day waiting period does apply, however. Valid identification for both the buyer and seller is required for the transaction.


It is the purchaser’s responsibility to educate himself with regard to California’s Assault Weapons Laws. The California Bureau of Firearms website will get you started.

More information:

Gun Safety

California Approved Firearms