California Gun Control Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

As most people know, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution preserves an individual's right to possess firearms:

"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

However, California gun control laws are among the most restrictive in the country, with a 10-day waiting period and limits on who may own a firearm. For instance, rifles may not be shorter than 16 inches and prospective handgun buyers must have a valid Handgun Safety Certificate. Make sure you study the law in California before purchasing a firearm, as violation of the state's gun laws can lead to felony charges.

The basics of California gun control laws are listed in the table below. See Gun Laws in FindLaw's Product Liability section to learn more.

Code Section Penal ยงยง12020, 12021, 12071, 12072
Illegal Arms Cane gun; wallet gun; any firearm not immediately recognized as such; short-barreled shotgun or rifle, i.e., barrel of less than 18 inches for shotgun, less than 16 inches for rifle, or less than 26 inches designed to fire a fixed shotgun shell or cartridge; zip gun; any bullet with explosive agent; multi-burst trigger activator; any unconventional pistol; any undetectable firearm.
Waiting Period 10 days
Who May Not Own

Lifetime Ban: Those with any felony conviction or conviction of other offenses listed by the California Dept. of Justice; any person adjudicated to be a mentally disordered sex offender; any person found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of insanity for any crime.

10-Year Ban: Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor violation of certain violent crimes, such as assault and battery or domestic violence.

5-Year Ban: Any person taken into custody as a danger to self or others, is assessed and admitted to a mental health facility (subject to a lifetime ban).

Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds Felony.

Note: The State of California often punishes gun crimes severely and if you find yourself charged under any of these statutes, you should consult immediately with an experienced California criminal defense attorney--- or conduct your own legal research on the criminal state law(s) you are researching.

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