S. Bodus

Buying a gun in California

In Buying guns on January 16, 2010 at 9:16 pm

If you’re a California resident, you have a couple of hoops to jump through when you buy a gun. It’s not as complicated as it may sound.

  • California driver’s license or ID/military ID
  • utility bill with your name and current street address
  • proof of handgun safety training
  • if you are military, bring your permanent orders

What can make it a drag for you is finding out that you have to get a certain type of utility bill if your address is not current on your driver’s license or ID.  Then you have to make an extra trip to bring the right one.  This is an ATF requirement–they want to verify that you’re who you say you are.  A utility bill that is from a government entity, such as the city, will satisfy this requirement, and the fact that it’s a utility bill will satisfy the state requirement as well.  ATF will also accept an address change card from DMV as long as it is stamped by DMV. (California still requires the utility bill, so bring both.)

If you are not in law enforcement or the military, you will need to take the handgun safety test in order to obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC).  You can read the HSC study guide on DOJ’s website here:  HSC Study Guide

The test has 30 questions, true/false and multiple choice, and most of them are common sense questions.  One that does stump people is about private party transfers–just remember that you have to transfer a firearm through a dealer whether you know the person or not, just like when you get a used car you have to transfer the title through DMV.

The HSC is $25, and it’s valid for 5 years.  If you lose your card, go back to the dealer where you took the test and ask for a replacement card, which will cost you $15.

You will also give a safe handling demonstration.  you will show the instructor that you know:

  • the safety features on the gun
  • how to load and unload the gun
  • how to put the cable or trigger lock on and take it off
  • what to do in the event of a jam

And while you’re demonstrating these to the instructor, you need to:

  • be aware of where your pistol or revolver is pointed
  • keep your finger off the trigger

In other words, treat the gun as if it were loaded and maintain this vigilance every time you handle any firearm.

Let me  know if you have any questions.  🙂

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