Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Buy a Gun in California

It isn't easy to purchase a gun in California, at least compared to other states like Idaho or Texas, but it can be done. Of course I have been listening and watching the current gun controversy with some interest. What my Hubby and I have found is that the regular 'Joe or Josephine' wanting to purchase their first gun for home defense really has little education on the actual HOW TO of doing such a thing. The information is on the ATF and DOJ websites, of course, but somehow it remains veiled in secrecy and myth.

 It isn't as if you can just go over to your neighbor's house and say " Hey Jack, I am going to buy my wifey a .357 Magnum for her birthday this year. Wadda ya think?"
The average household here in the Bay Area would do one of three things.
1. Look at you as if you were the Devil incarnate and then call their kids away from yours, never letting them step foot in your 'evil' household again...
2. Shake their heads in dismay and try to convert you away from the Evils of Firearm Ownership, spouting the knee jerk lines about Peace and Love and how the Police will take care of us in case of an Emergency and that no one really needs a gun any more and the Constitution is a really an antiquated document...
3. Or they will offer to introduce you to someone who can help you- and that is IF they really know you well...because Us Gun Fanatics are a sketchy and distrustful lot.

So if you have stumbled upon this blog by accident, and really have the intent to purchase a legal firearm, here is some good and true information for HANDGUN Purchases.

You get a license for getting married, for your dog, for fishing or hunting but you do not get a license for owning a gun.You get a Hand Gun Safety Certificate and your gun gets registered. Some people think that having a HSC is the same as having a CCP. It is not. Here in California the only Concealed Carry Permits are give by individual County Sheriffs, and in only a very few Counties. You have to have a valid reason for wanting one, and in the East Bay Area, you have to practically BE the Sheriff. More desolate and less populated Counties, like Lassen, Modoc,Empire and Kings will issue CCP's with a lot of rules attached.

Step one- apply for a Handgun Safety Certificate. You must have one to register a handgun.
To get your HSC, you will need to have ID, pass a fairly simple 30 question test and have the required $25-$35 dollars. The test is administered by an HSC Instructor or a Federal Firearms Dealer, the same place you must go to register your Handgun. You can generally walk into a Gun Store, pick out a handgun , take the test and purchase the gun all in about an hour. If you want to study for the test, ask the FFL or the HSC Instructor for a booklet, or go to the DOJ website and purchase the video. The test booklet is about $.50 and the video is about $5.00.
You will need two forms of valid ID that shows your current address- no PO boxes. One of them must be your California Drivers license or California ID card. The other can be a Phone, water, garbage bill or a car registration (preferred). It cannot be a cell phone bill, a Social Security card or a Passport.

When you purchase your gun, weather it is from your neighbor, the internet or from a Gun Store, you must register the handgun via a local Federal Firearms Licensee and go through a back ground check, which requires the FFL to run a NICS check. NICS is an abbreviation of National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The FFL will require you to fill out the ATF Form 4473. It has three pages of questions, and must be signed and dated by the person buying the handgun. If for any reason you cannot answer any of the questions, you will be denied the privilege of buying a handgun. Some reasons for being denied would be, Indictment for a Felony, a user or addicted to various drugs, adjudicated mentally defective or under a restraining order. There are a few others as well.
The FFL must make sure you are old enough to buy the handgun. The age you can purchase a handgun in California is 21 years.
The gun is run through the State Database to see if it was stolen or used in any criminal activity.
If there is ANY reason the FFL Dealer thinks you should not receive the firearm, he can stop the sale. Some reasons might be aggressiveness to staff, a strong smell of alcohol or grass or acting in anything but a civilized manner.

Then you must wait the required ten days to make sure you aren't buying a gun in the heat of passion planning to go out and shoot someone immediately.

After ten days, you will be required to sign the 4473 again, and date it. Your fingerprint will be taken as well as copies of your Drivers license and the other two forms of ID showing your address. You pay for your handgun and the FFL dealer will administer a Safety Test to make sure you understand how to safely load and handle the handgun. If there is any reason you fail this test, the sale will be stopped. You sign a certificate saying you have gone through the test and understand how to use the gun safely.
The buyer must also purchase a lock, or provide proof that they own a lock box or safe. A receipt will do. The buyer must sign a form to this effect.

This whole packet, consisting of all of this paperwork, is stapled together and kept in the FFLs files for at least five years. A Handgun buyer can only purchase one new handgun from a dealer a month, one every thirty days. A buyer can purchase more than one a month from a private party, but the process of registering the gun remains the same and must be adhered to each time a firearm is purchased. To purchase from a private party, the buyer and seller of the handgun must both go to the FFLs store to transfer the handgun and both parties must have ID, although the seller need not have all the other forms of ID or sign any of the required forms except the transfer form.

So- with all of this Government paperwork- it is already a wonder than anyone in California has the fortitude to continue to purchase handguns: But we do!

A few more tips for a new or first time gun purchaser~
Find a good Instructor BEFORE you go to purchase a Handgun. There are more than a few Gun Stores that will sell you the newest and 'hottest' firearm, and it might NOT be the right fit for you. A good instructor will allow you to take a lesson on a few different kinds of firearms so you can see what fits your hand, how much recoil you can handle, etc.

If you are purchasing a gun over the Internet, check the ATF or DOJ websites to make sure that the gun you want is legal to own in California. There is a List and the gun must be on the List to be able to be registered. If the gun is illegal to own, the FFL dealer will ship it back to the seller and will not register the gun. The List changes all of the time, so you should check every time you purchase a handgun.What is not on the List today, may be on the List tomorrow. You must have any out of state gun sent to an FFL for registration, you cannot have it sent to your home.

First timers- stay away from the Glock. They are great firearms, but for someone that hasn't handled a handgun much it can be a bit much. I suggest a short barreled revolver. It is easy to load,clean and aim.As your confidence improves you can decide weather the Glock is the right weapon for your home defense.

Listen to your Rangemaster. They don't make the rules up just for shits and giggles!  The rules are in place so everyone stays safe and can continue to enjoy the Range.

Of course everyone wanting to buy a handgun should take the responsibility of learning these rules for themselves.These are just a few tips and guidelines to help you on your journey.

 An educated public is a powerful public!

Happy Shooting!


Mrs Mom said...

Or you could move to GA, fill out the 4473, provide them with your GWL (Georgia Weapons Lisc,) and purchase away.... No limits, no headaches.

No GWL? Fill out 4473, wait on a call back from NICs, and ta-da! You are a proud firearm owner (provided you pass the NICs background check.) Pre-mass hysteria, you generally knew whether you passed or not pretty quickly- sometimes even while you were standing there in the store. Now though.. I hear things are *slightly* backed up.

Getting your GWL is easy too, and *used* to have a fairly quick turnaround time.

Not being much of a wheel gun fan (even though I now own one you'll be happy to note- a Virginia Dragoon .44 magnum,) I tend not to start my students off on a revolver. Sometimes, we go with a .22 (Ruger Mark III) but most often a 9mm- Ruger SR9, or the SR9c, Rock Island 1911 in 9mm, etc. With supervision, we've used a Glock 17 quite often too. And a Glock 19. Once the student is comfortable with 9mm, we'll move to other calibers etc.

I almost feel guilty being so lucky to live in a shall-issue state that allows open carry :)

Happy Shooting Cowgirl!!!! (I need to email you pix of that Dragoon huh? Its AWESOME to play with!!)

Cindy D. said...

In WY, it is pretty simple. You have to show your proof of address, and register that you have purchased a weapon. That is about it. Interestingly enough, a juevenille has to take a hunters safety course before he can hunt, but I don't think an adult does. I think anyone planning to hunt, or even own a gun should have to take it.
It is pretty common around here for a person to have several weapons in his/her vehicle at all times. Hunting is, as a rule, a family outing for Dad, Mom, and the kids, even if the kids are too young to hunt. They grow up learning fire arm safety. It is one of the things I love most about living here.

C-ingspots said...

Wow, I'm kind of tired just reading about all those hoops you have to jump through in Cali. Oregon is much simpler. At least for now...

GunDiva said...

I got a headache just reading about the hoops you have to jump through. Yikes.

I'm glad I live in Colorado with no "cooling off" period (other than the back-logged NICS) and that I can purchase multiple firearms anytime I want.

Of course, our state is currently being Califoricated, so we'll see how much longer our bliss lasts.