2019 California Firearm and Ammunition Laws

State Facts About California
California is the most populated state in the US (39.3 million) and has the largest economy. The state is known as a trendsetter for popular culture, innovation, and politics. Californians are seen as one of the more liberal states. The film industry originated in this state and California’s agriculture industry has the highest output. This state has the most professional sports league franchises and the NFL has been hosted in California twelve times. The state’s military force includes the Army and Air National Guard, the California Cadet Corps, and the naval and state military reserve.

The top 10 largest cities in California are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, and Anaheim.

Ammunition Sales Restrictions

  • As of 2019, the manufacturing and sales of bumpstock and bursttrigger devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm expel in rapid fire bursts have been banned. This law has already taken effect.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2018 any individual with the intent of selling 500 (+) rounds of ammo during any given month is obligated to obtain and a business license issued by California.
  • Ammunition sales a restricted to guns show and specified locations of business.
  • The DOJ will issue an ammo vendor license to those that have completed the required documents along with a certificate of eligibility issued after passing background checks.
  • All employees are required to complete necessary paperwork, including a background check.
  • Online ammunition purchases must be delivered to a licensed vendor for face-to-face delivery to the purchased. To receive the package, the purchaser must have passed a background check. Record of Ammunition Sales
  • Starting July 1, 2019, licensed ammunition vendors are obligated to record, keep, and report all sales to the DOJ.
  • Records will be kept confidential except for law enforcement reasons. Shoot Range Ammunition Sales
  • Background checks are not required for individuals who purchase ammunition at a shooting range so long as said ammunition does not leave the facility. Ammunition Sales at Gun Shows
  • Ammunition on display at all guns shows in California must be kept in closed containers, unless being inspected by a prospective buyer with the assistance of the vendor or an employee.
  • No individual may possess both a firearm if its corresponding ammunition at the same time unless that individual is a police officer or security personnel. Ammunition On Display
  • Ammunition on display must be kept is a locked container at all times
  • Ammunition may only be accessible to a purchaser if the vendor or an employee to there to assist the potential buyer.

Firearm Restrictions

As of 2019:

  • Ammunition cartridges and magazines are added to the list of things that law enforcement officers can confiscate if there is a gun-violence restraining order. This law has already taken effect.
  • People younger than 21 years of age are prohibited from the purchase of a long gun, including rifles and shotguns from any firearm dealer. Exempt from this law are military, law enforcement, and anyone with an unexpired hunting license.

High Capacity Magazines

  • High-capacity magazines are defined in California as ammunition devices that are detachable from the firearm and capable of containing 10 or more rounds.
  • Beginning June 30, 2017 an injunction was implemented on the portion of law outlawing possession of high-capacity magazines. The Production, sale, and importation of high-capacity magazines is still illegal.

Definition of a ‘loaded firearm’

  • A firearm is considered loaded when the gun and its compatible ammunition are within a reachable distance from one another.
  • Firearms are also considered loaded when the cartridge is inside or near the firearm, for example, in the magazine, chamber, or any other attachment.

Ghost Gun

  • Beginning July 2018, any individual that wants to manufacture or assembly a firearm is required first apply to the Department of Justice for a serial number.
  • Individuals already in possession of a firearm that doesn’t already have a serial number are also required to apply to receive one by the beginning of 2019.

Assault Weapons

  • Assault weapons in California are defined as any semi-automatic centerfire rifle or pistol that doesn’t not have a fixed magazine but includes one ore more of the following characteristics:
    • Thumbhole stock
    • Pistol Grip
    • Grenade Launcher
    • Telescoping or folding stock
    • Flash Suppressor
    • Forward Pistol Grip
  • Also,
    • Threaded Barrel
    • Second Handgrip
    • Shrouded Attachment
    • Ability to accept a mag outside a pistol grip
    • Bullet Button Feature
  • Firearms that feature the bullet button are classified as assault weapons and registration is required by June 30, 2018.

Permit & Carry Restrictions

As of 2019

  • People applying for a concealed carry license must complete 8 hours of training and must show a proficiency in the ability to handle and shoot a firearm. This law has already taken effect.
  • If you are convicted of misdemeanor domestic-violence after January 1st, 2019, you are prohibited from owning a firearm for the rest of your life. Previous state law was a 10 year ban on such individuals.
  • Anyone involuntarily hospitalized more than once in a year’s time for a mental health facility for being a danger to themselves or others is prohibited from owning a firearm. This can be appealed every five years and is valid for the person’s entire life.

Applications for Permit

  • Cost: $100
  • Limit: 2 years
  • Consult your local Chief of Police or Police Department for information
  • Online applications available in many areas
  • California does not recognize permits from other states

California is classified as a ‘may-issue’ state; the following criteria must be met:

  • An individual must show good moral character
  • Must establish ‘good cause’
  • Must live within the county of application
  • Mandatory training course must be completed

Carry, even with a permit, is restricted from the following locations:

  • Federal buildings, state capitol, legislative offices, and government buildings
  • Public and private schools, including college campuses
  • Polling places
  • Events

It is unlawful to carry a concealed firearm when/if:

  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if they are legal or prescribed by a doctor.
  • Outside listed situations or criteria specified on carry permit
  • Anywhere in an establishment that distributes alcoholic beverages, i.e. bars.
  • A weapon that is not listed • Keep an officer from performing his or her duties

Open Carry

  • It is illegal to open carry in the state of California.
UPDATED: JANUARY 10, 2019
***DISCLAIMER. This information on this page is to be used only as a reference point. Firearm and ammunition laws frequently change. To be entirely sure, please consult with your attorney or local enforcement agencies before making any ammunition or firearm decision.