Under normal circumstances a person moving to California must register any handguns brought into the state within 60 days of arrival of the handgun. If a person were to check the CA DOJ website, they would assume this applies to every person. The DOJ however doesn't quite say everything on the website, nor on the form used to register and collect $19/per handgun. At face value the DOJ would have you believe that EVERYONE moving to California regardless of whether they're active duty or not is required to register any handguns brought into the state. This is simply not true. The DOJ has been taking money from service members since the law went into effect without blinking an eye.
Here is the excerpt from the DOJ FAQ website.
25. I am moving into California and I own several handguns. What are the new-resident registration requirements?
You are considered to be a personal handgun importer as defined by California law. You may bring all of your otherwise California-legal firearms with you, but you must report all of your handguns to the DOJ within 60 days as required utilizing the New Resident Handgun Ownership Report. [PDF 518 kb / 2 pg] You are not required to report rifles or shotguns. You may not bring ammunition feeding devices with a capacity greater than ten rounds, machineguns, or assault weapons into California.
(PC sections 12001(n), 12072(f)(2))
They are even nice enough to even put a space on the form for your military ID and ask for copies of your PCS orders.
There is also the "New Resident" page which states:
Any person who moves into California and who brings any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person is considered to be a "Personal Handgun Importer" and is required to do one of the following within 60 days:
So again on the surface EVERYONE must comply.
The authority to collect money and handgun registration information is set forth in California Penal Code (PC) sections 12001(n) and 12072(f)(2).
PC 12072(f)(2) requires "Personal Handgun Importers" to register the handgun within 60 days of bringing it into the state or get rid of the handgun. This is
(2) (A) On or after January 1, 1998, within 60 days of bringing a
handgun into this state, a personal handgun importer shall do one of
(i) Forward by prepaid mail or deliver in person to the Department
of Justice, a report prescribed by the department including
information concerning that individual and a description of the
firearm in question.
(ii) Sell or transfer the firearm in accordance with the
provisions of subdivision (d) or in accordance with the provisions of
an exemption from subdivision (d).
(iii) Sell or transfer the firearm to a dealer licensed pursuant
to Section 12071.
(iv) Sell or transfer the firearm to a sheriff or police
PC 12001(n) is where a "Personal Handgun Importer" is defined:
(n) As used in this chapter, a "personal handgun importer" means
an individual who meets all of the following criteria:
(1) He or she is not a person licensed pursuant to Section 12071.
(2) He or she is not a licensed manufacturer of firearms pursuant
to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of the United
(3) He or she is not a licensed importer of firearms pursuant to
Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of the United
States Code and the regulations issued pursuant thereto.
(4) He or she is the owner of a handgun.
(5) He or she acquired that handgun outside of California.
(6) He or she moves into this state on or after January 1, 1998,
as a resident of this state.
(7) He or she intends to possess that handgun within this state on
or after January 1, 1998.
(8) The handgun was not delivered to him or her by a person
licensed pursuant to Section 12071 who delivered that firearm
following the procedures set forth in Section 12071 and subdivision
(c) of Section 12072.
(9) He or she, while a resident of this state, had not previously
reported his or her ownership of that handgun to the Department of
Justice in a manner prescribed by the department that included
information concerning him or her and a description of the firearm.
(10) The handgun is not a firearm that is prohibited by
subdivision (a) of Section 12020.
(11) The handgun is not an assault weapon, as defined in Section
12276 or 12276.1.
(12) The handgun is not a machinegun, as defined in Section 12200.
(13) The person is 18 years of age or older.
PC 12001(n) lists 13 requirements, all of which must be met to be a "Personal Handgun Importer"
PC 12001(o) clarifies the residency requirement, and specifically excludes Active Duty Military in (o)(2).
(o) For purposes of paragraph (6) of subdivision (n):
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), residency shall be
determined in the same manner as is the case for establishing
residency pursuant to Section 12505 of the Vehicle Code.
(2) In the case of members of the Armed Forces of the United
States, residency shall be deemed to be established when he or she
was discharged from active service in this state.
So on the surface DOJ would have a service member who isn't a California resident believe that they have to register handguns they bring into the state. Yet when you look at the Penal Code that establishes this, it specifically excludes active duty military.
-- MarkW - 31 Mar 2010