Although California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, obtaining a firearm is not all that difficult for qualified individuals. Thousands of people buy guns each year, ranging from pistols to shotguns to rifles. However, obtaining a concealed firearm permit for a handgun is somewhat difficult, but shotguns and rifles are much easier to buy. Before you even consider buying one of these firearms, you should answer these questions:
1. Are you at least 18 years of age or older? YES
2. Have your ever been convicted of a felony? NO
3. Have you ever been hospitalized for a mental problem? NO
4. Have you ever been convicted of drunk driving? NO
All of your answers to these questions must match the answers in bold or else you won’t be buying a firearm anytime soon. Also, this is just for rifles and shotguns because the handgun process is much longer and stricter.
When you go to a firearms dealer to purchase a shotgun or rifle, you should look around at the weapons and ask to see the ones that catch your eye. Sadly, you won’t find any assault rifles for sale in California because they are illegal, so don’t even bother asking about them. A store like Big 5 Sporting Goods will have a good but limited selection, while an actual gun dealer will have racks and racks of firearms. For a person looking for their first shotgun or rifle, Big 5 should suffice.
After you have checked out some of the firearms, you should decide if you actually want to buy one of them. If you do, then the dealer will give you a form to fill out. Luckily, this form is fairly short and should only take 5 minutes to fill out. This form asks you for the following information:
– Name, contact information, address
– A little bit of background information (citizenship, ethnicity, place of birth, etc.)
– Yes or No answers to a few questions about prior convictions and mental health
When you have filled out the form, you simply need to sign and date it. The dealer will then take your driver’s license so that it can be photocopied onto another form. Afterward, you will be required to submit a right thumb print onto the form. Now the process is pretty much complete for this particular visit to a gun dealer. Typically, you will then pay for the shotgun or rifle (in part or whole) before you leave the store. There is a $25 fee for a background check, which is non-refundable and you must pass or your application will be denied.
After all of this, you must wait 10 days while the application is processed and the background check is carried out. Most dealers will not start the 10 day waiting period until the following day of your purchase. As long as you pass the background check, you will be able to pick-up your weapon at the end of the waiting period.
Notes About Buying and Owning a Shotgun or Rifle in California
* If you don’t own a gun safe or trigger lock for the weapon you are purchasing, then you will have to buy one by the time you pick up your weapon after the 10 day waiting period. This is REQUIRED by law. (Gun safes start at around $120 and trigger locks are only $10 – $20.)
* You can keep a shotgun or rifle stored in your car, as long as the trigger lock is in place or the gun is in a case of some sort. This is perfectly legal. HOWEVER, if you have ammunition in the vehicle too, then the firearm and ammo must be kept in completely separate parts of the car. (For example, ammunition locked in the glove box and the weapon in the trunk.)
* Keeping the weapon stored in your home is a good idea, but you must practice the proper safety procedures, especially if you have children in the home. IF you do not have a trigger lock on the gun or it is not locked away, then YOU are liable if a minor finds the gun and hurts somebody with it.
* The largest legal clip a shotgun or rifle can have is a 10 round magazine. Anything larger than this is illegal in California. However, any size clips owned before a certain year are legal for you and only you to own. (Check the state law for more information.)
* It may be obvious, but don’t point a firearm at another person. This is a reckless action that could just end up with someone visiting the hospital or even death, so be as safe as you possibly can.