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Gun ownership can be a tricky road to navigate. Each state has different requirements and procedures. Not all states require a permit to purchase or carry a firearm; just as some states do not require any kind of registration prior to ownership.However, there are states such as California, which have strict gun control laws, yet very unclear guidelines on proper ownership and registration.

Do long guns have to be registered in California? For those of you new to firearms, a long gun would be a shotgun or rifle; a firearm which requires two hands to shoot and is often braced against the shoulder for support. It took quite some digging to find out the answer to what should be such a simple question. The final answer is … yes. All firearms must be registered.

Registration is often completed at the time of purchase and no further steps are required by the proprietor. This is due to the fact that all gun sales are required to be completed by a Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer, who is required to run a background check, check the required verification such as identification and a valid Firearm Safety Certificate, which is now required for gun purchase, and do a safe handling demonstration. This is all completed in a 10 day wait period.

No registration required

While it is now necessary to register all of your firearms, any long gun purchased prior to 2014 does not, if it purchased within California. However, if you are a new resident moving into state, you are required to register all firearms within 60 days. The baffling situation with this is that it is not against the law to own an unregistered long gun, so long as it is not being used outside of your personal residence. However, for your peace of mind, you may consider registering your long gun anyway or filling out a Firearm Ownership Report, which would help you re-obtain your firearm should it get stolen or lost.

Inherited guns

As stated before, all guns now have to be registered, regardless of type. However, with inherited firearms, it is not necessary to have to use a FFL. This is one of the few exceptions California has about a person to person transaction rather than having to purchase from an authorized dealer. In order to obtain legal possession of their estate, the inheritor must fill out an Intra-Familial Firearm Transaction form. In order to use this form, the following requirements must be met:

  • The new owner is at least 18 years of age
  • The owner has valid proof of being a California resident
  • The owner can legally be in possession of a firearm
  • The owner is in current possession of a Firearm Safety Certificate or an FSC exemption, as defined by Penal Code section 31700.
  • The weapon is not classified as an assault weapon

Gun licenses in other states

Gun control is a source of much debate throughout the country. Some states like California and Hawaii have very strict laws regarding gun ownership. This often means lots of hoops to jump through. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are some states that do not require anything in order for you to be in possession of a firearm. This means no license, no permit, no penalties or criminal charges, no background check, and no safety handling demonstration. While this may seem much easier, it can also be a lot more dangerous, as it could allow guns to end up in the wrong hands.

There are seven states where this type of free ownership is allowed. These are:

  • Maine
  • Arizona
  • Kansas
  • Wyoming
  • Alaska
  • Vermont
  • Missouri

Owning an unregistered gun in California

Given that California is so strict with their gun control, it baffles me that they do not have firmer guidelines set up. It is actually a bit difficult to figure out what is considered criminal and non-criminal when it comes to guns. You may actually be surprised to learn that if you decide not to register your long gun, you will not face any type of criminal charges. But how is that possible if you are required to register all firearms? The answer to that is quite unclear. I spent a few hours scouring multiple sources and could not find a proper response. How you can enforce a requirement without punishment for failure to do so is not something I’m used to. If I tell my children to listen or get grounded, it would not be very effective if I never actually followed through when needed.

Related questions

Is a carry permit required in order to have a concealed weapon?

In the state of California, it is against the law to carry a firearm, regardless of if it is loaded or unloaded, without the proper documentation. In order to get a CCW, which is a permit for carrying a concealed weapon, there are three steps that must be completed.

  • The first step is the paper application. This is often completed by the county sheriff or whoever runs the local police department.
  • The second step is the interview process. During this, be prepared to answer questions such as why you want a CCW, your criminal background, and the rules of carrying a firearm in public.
  • The final step is a psychological evaluation. However, not all areas require this step so check with your local police station ahead of time.

How long does the process of purchasing a gun take?

According to the California Penal Code, from start to finish, it usually takes 10 days for the process of purchasing a gun to be complete. This applies to all types of firearms and not just handguns.

What are the costs for registering a firearm?

There are various costs associated with purchasing a firearm. If you plan to get a conceal carry permit, there are extra costs you will be required to pay. Here they are broke down. Not all of these fees will apply to everyone. It just depends on the purchaser’s needs.