California Gun Laws

If you’re looking to obtain a legal firearm in California, here are some facts about California gun laws.


California is a shall-issue state. Licenses are issued by the county sheriff’s office or local police station. CCW holders can carry pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, though it can be 21 in some counties. Applicants have to complete a firearms training course, which includes firing a gun in a live-fire shooting exercise.

What Is Required To Buy a Gun in California?

A gun buyer must be 21 years of age or older and have proof or residency such as a current California Driver’s License or Identification Card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or military identification. An exception is a person 18 years of age or older who possess a current hunting license issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. There is a 10-day waiting period before the purchaser/transferee can possession of the firearm.

What Is Required To Buy a handgun in California?

A gun buyer must be 21 years of age or older, have proof or residency, and either possess a Handgun Safety Certificate.

Do handguns need to be registered in California?

Yes, residents must report ownership of a firearm to the California Department of Justice.

Does California have a roster of handguns certified for sale?

Yes, handguns available for sale in California must pass a firing, safety and drop tests and be certified for sale in California by the Department of Justice. Curio and relic handguns are exempt from this requirement.

Is There a Waiting Period to Buy a Gun in California?

There is a 10-day waiting period to purchase firearms.

Is a Firearms Training Course required in California?

Yes, a minimum of 8 hours of training on firearm safety, handling and technique acceptable to the licensing authority is required. The course includes live-fire shooting exercises and applicants must demonstrate safe handling of and shooting proficiency with each firearm that the applicant is applying to be licensed to carry. There are exemptions for active or honorably retired members of the US Military, law enforcement, and others.

What are the steps to obtain a Concealed Carry License in California?

Step 1: Contact your county sheriff’s or local police chief’s office for approved training courses.

Step 2: Complete an approved training course or provide proof of exemption. NOTE: Some jurisdictions may require psychological testing.

Step 3: Download the California CCW application form the State of California Department of Justice website (

Step 5: Take the following to your county sheriff’s office:

  • CCW application
  • Training certificate
  • Proof of residency
  • Valid and current identification
  • Up to three firearms you will be conceal carrying

You will be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed.

Step 6: You will be notified by mail within 90 days if your application has been approved or denied.

How much does a California CCW license cost?

It costs $200 to $300 for a California CCW permit, and $70 for a renewal.

Does California Recognize Pistol Permits From Other States?

No, CCW licenses and permits issued in other states are not valid in California.

Is California an Open Carry State?

No, Open Carry of handguns and long guns is prohibited. You can Open Carry in your home and business only.

Is California a Stand Your Ground State?

A person is not required to retreat in California in certain circumstances. You have the right to stand your ground and defend yourself or others using deadly force when facing harm or danger.

Are AR-Style and Other Semi-Auto Rifles Legal in California?

No. California classifies semi-auto firearms in three categories: The Roberti-Roos assault weapons list, the AK and AR-15 series weapons list, and specific generic characteristic or SB 23 assault weapons. These lists define an “assault weapon” under California state law or specifically list a weapon that is illegal.

Are Standard-Capacity Magazines Allowed in California?

No, maximum magazine capacity is 10 rounds. Magazines holding 10+ rounds are prohibited.

What Are California Gun Storage Laws?

Firearms are required to be stored securely if accessible by a minor under 18.

Is California a Red Flag State?

Yes. The state does have Red Flag laws, otherwise known as Risk Warrant or Risk Protection Order statutes, which allow authorities to remove firearms from a person’s possession under certain circumstances.

Is Nonlead Ammunition Required For Hunting In California?

Yes, non-lead ammunition is required to hunting in California. You can go to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website ( to view a list of certified nonleaded ammunition for use in California.

Disclaimer: provides this information to subscribers and readers, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of gun laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information disclosed. Gun laws are constantly changing, for legal advice, consult a lawyer in your state.


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