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A Timeline of California Firearms Laws

Based on a post from Librarian, of Calguns; subsequent additions by Sean Newton.

Effective Date Bill Penal Code Law
1917 ??? ??? California's first concealed carry permit law. Very hard to find data on - requesting further input!
1923? ??? ??? 1-day waiting period on all handgun purchases.
1924 ??? 12025 Concealed carry permits updated to a 'uniform' may-issue system; all permits under 1917 law invalidated. Goal: to disarm Hispanics and Chinese (see below).
1956 ??? ??? 3-day waiting period on all handgun purchases.
1965 ??? ??? 5-day waiting period on all handgun purchases.
1967 ??? PC12031 Prohibitions enacted against loaded weapons carried in public, regardless of concealment / openness. This was an emergency bill passed after the Black Panthers stood around the state legislature with loaded weapons.
1976 ??? ??? 15-day waiting period on all handgun purchases.
1 Jan 1990 ??? 12275 Roberti-Roos, original 'assault weapon' list
1 Jan 1991 ??? None All firearms purchases and transfers, including PPTs and at gun shows, must go through DROS.
1 Apr 1994 ??? None 'Basic Firearms Safety Card' enacted; required to buy handguns. Ended 1 Jan 2003
1994 ??? None Federal Assault Weapons Ban begins.
1997 ??? ??? Handgun waiting periods were reduced to 10 days from 15.
1 Jan 1998 ??? 12001 Mandatory registration of all handguns acquired out of state.
1 Jan 2000 ??? 12276.1 Perata's SB23 'feature based' AW ban takes effect.
1 Jan 2001 ??? 12131 "Safe gun" list mandating drop tests for handguns.
1 Jan 2003 ??? None BFSC replaced by 'Handgun Safety Certificate'; added 'safety demonstration' and 'proof of residency' for handgun purchases
2004 ??? None Federal Assault Weapons Ban ends. CA rifles may once again have bayo lugs + threaded muzzles. Some California AW's are allowed new features (MAK-90s may use normal stocks, etc)
1 Jan 2005 ??? 12280 50 BMG rifle ban passed
1 Jan 2006 ??? 12280 50 BMG rifle ban active; no new 50BMG rifles
1 Jan 2006 ??? ??? Pistols must have LCI or mag disc. safety to be added to 'safe handgun roster'
1 Jan 2007 ??? ??? Pistols must have LCI and mag disc. safety to be added to 'safe handgun roster'
1 Jan 2007 ??? ??? AB2728 removed Attorney General's ability to add onto the 'assault weapon' lists, and added alternate 'infraction' prosecution route for assault weapons (instead of felony prosecution)
1 Jul 2008 ??? ??? CFLC system requires all dealer-to-dealer transfers to use a CA DOJ verification number for all transfers.
??? 2010 SB1080 / SB1115 CPC Reorganization of California Penal Code, including renumbering of most firearms related sections.
??? 2011 AB819 ??? Allows DROS fund fees to be spent at DOJ's whim; paved road for APPS squad.
1 Jan 2012 2011 AB144 ??? Banned open carry of unloaded handguns.
??? 2011 SB610 ??? Requires "good cause" to be evaluated before CCW applicants pay for training; prohibits mandatory liability insurance policies.
1 Jan 2013 2012 SB1315 ??? Authorized LA County to enact laws on replica guns as an exception to state firearms pre-emption.
1 Jan 2013 2012 AB1527 ??? Banned open carry of unloaded long guns.
1 Jan 2014 2011 AB809 ??? Long gun registration passed into law.
1 Jan 2014 AB48 32310-32311 Acquisition of new magazine rebuild kits banned
1 Jan 2014 AB231 25100, 25110, 26835 Crime of criminal storage of firearm in third degree created, basically banning loaded, unlocked guns anywhere a child ever goes. Unclear if the prohibited person language made it into the CPC or not.
1 Jan 2014 AB711 DFG regs Require the Department of Fish and Game to mandate non-lead ammunition for all hunting activities. Timeline of actual prohibition taking effect is unclear, but prior to July 1 2015.
1 Jan 2015 SB683 CPC 16535 Replaces the Handgun Safety Card with a Firearms Safety Card, as all new gun purchases - including long guns and C&R - must be registered.
1 Jan 2015 AB1964 CPC 32100 Alters the 'Single Shot Exemption' to no longer apply to temporarily altered semi-autos, as well as most bolt action, and break-action handguns.
1 Jan 2016 SB1014 ??? Adds "Gun Violence Restraining Orders" to the list of ways to become a prohibited person in California.
1 July 2017 Prop63

  • 2008 saw the passage of a bill which mandated micro-stamping for all new handgun purchases made in 2010(?) and beyond, when the technology is available from multiple vendors and without patent encumberance. This last bit is significant in that it is unlikely to happen, thus this provision is unlikely to become active.
  • Perata's SB23, the 'aw' feature test bill, was effective 1 Jan 2000. It also includes the threaded barrel on pistols and the large (standard) capacity magazine language, same date. PC 12276.1
  • 'Basic Firearms Safety Certificates' were required from 1 April 1994 to 1 Jan 2003, when it was replaced by the 'Handgun Safety Certificate'. That's also the date for the 'safety demonstration' and the 'proof of residency'

Contributor Credit

  • In addition to providing the entire initial content for this timeline, Librarian also wrote to the DOJ about FFL sales - their answer: "Effective January 1, 1991, all firearms purchases and transfers, including private party transactions and sales at gun shows, must be made through a licensed dealer under the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) process."
  • http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/cramer.waiting.html is the source material for the 1923, 1956, and 1965 dates. Identified by Bulgron of Calguns.
  • Redhorse, of Calguns, placed the handgun waiting period reduction (15 days to 10) in 1997. Previously it was thought to have happened in either 1991 or 1997.
  • Dean Weingarten dug up a useful link on the 1923 concealed carry law, which lead me to http://californiaccw.org/files/sf-chronicle-article.htm

Leads on Clarification

  • 1917 handgun law: Excerpt from http://www.crimefree.org.za/Role-players/Criminologist/Kopel/RTC-history.htm - "At least one state, California, replaced an existing statute with the Uniform Act. See Statutes of California Passed At The Extra Session of the Forty-First Legislature, (San Francisco, Bancroft-Whitney: 1916), p. 221, to see the differences and similarities between the 1917 California concealed handgun statute, and the Uniform Act adopted by California in 1923."


[quote=San Francisco Chronicle, July 15th 1923]NEW FIREARMS LAW EFFECTIVE ON AUGUST 7

Existing Licenses Inoperative After Dec. 31 1924; Uniform System


Possible Unconstitutionality of Clause Provided for in Drafting

Stringent regulations against carrying concealed firearms or explosives, and prohibition against possession of other deadly weapons become effective on August 7, under the Hawes bill signed by Governor Richardson.

The new measure will install a uniform licensing system for carrying concealed weapons. Licenses now in existence will become inoperative December 31, 1924.


Aimed at disarming the lawless, the bill provides exemptions and exceptions to preserve the rights of those using firearms for competition or hunting or for protection in outing trips. It was largely on the recommendation of R. T. McKissick, president of the Sacramento Rifle and Revolver Club, that Governor Richardson approved the measure.

McKissick classes it as a measure that introduces "an element of sanity into firearms legislation, so as to provide adequate punishments upon an increasing scale for the habitual gunman and, at the same time, permit law-abiding citizens to continue to own firearms for home defense and other legitimate uses."


The bill, according to McKissick follows almost literally one offered in the United States Senate by Senator Capper and advocated by associations interested in the manufacture, sale and legitimate use of pistols and revolvers, as a model for a uniform bill to be introduced in each State. "It is frankly," he says, "an effort upon the part of those who know something about firearms to forestall the flood of fanatical legislation intended to deprive all citizens of the United States the right to own and use, for legitimate purposes, firearms capable of being concealed upon the person."

The new measures change existing law by making the carrying of barred weapons such as blackjacks, a felony instead of a misdemeanor. The provision against carrying explosive also is new.


Possible unconstitutionality of the provision against possession of weapons by non-naturalized residents was admitted in McKissick's letter to the Governor urging signing of the bill, but he pointed out that if this clause should be held invalid the rest of the act will not be affected and that if it can be sustained that it will have a "salutary effect in checking tong wars among the Chinese and vendettas among our people who are of Latin descent."

The provision for additional sentences where weapons are used in committing a felony is one with a sliding scale. The first time the added penalty is from five to ten years; the second from ten to fifteen; the third from 15 to 25 years, and only on the fourth offense it is possible to add more than 25 years to the sentence imposed for the crime itself.[/quote]

-- SeanNewton - 28 Aug 2006

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Topic revision: r14 - 10 Nov 2016 - SeanNewton
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