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First Time Buyer Guide

How to Purchase a Firearm in California: A Comprehensive Guide by Tactical Arms

Purchasing a firearm in California is a process that demands meticulous attention to detail and adherence to the law. Tactical Arms is here to assist you through every step, ensuring a smooth, accurate, and expedited process. With the proper documentation ready and no unforeseen interruptions, this procedure can typically be completed in just 5-7 minutes.


Eligibility Requirements for Firearm Purchase in California:
To be eligible to purchase a firearm in California, you must meet the following criteria:


Legal Right to Possess: Ensure you're legally allowed to possess firearms and ammunition. This means having no convictions or guilty pleas to certain crimes. If you're unsure about your eligibility, refer to the "FIREARMS PROHIBITING CATEGORIES." Those potentially prohibited should consult a qualified attorney to discuss the possibility of restoring their rights before entering any gun store.


Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency: You must be a U.S. citizen or hold a valid Green Card. Bring your identification with you when making a purchase.


California Residency with Valid ID: Possess a current California Driver's License (CADL) or a California ID card (CAID) with your residency. If your ID includes "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY," additional proof of legal U.S. status is required, such as a birth certificate, valid passport, Green Card, or naturalization certificate. Note that expired IDs, extensions, or awaiting a new ID from the DMV are not accepted. Active Duty Military personnel are an exception if they have a current DODID and Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders for California; however, this does not extend to spouses.


California Firearms Safety Certificate (FSC): This certificate is mandatory for submitting a background check. If you do not have an FSC, Tactical Arms can provide one for a $25 non-refundable fee. The certification process involves a 30-question test, requiring a score of 23 out of 30 to pass. The certificate is valid for 5 years. If you fail the test, you can retake it after 24 hours without an additional fee; however, two failures result in a forfeited fee and a recommendation for professional training.


Exceptions to the FSC requirement include:


Valid Handgun Safety Certificate holders purchasing a handgun.
Valid CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) Hunting License holders purchasing a long gun.
Valid California Concealed Carry Permit (CCW) holders.
Collectors with a Federal Firearms License (FFL03) and Certificate of Eligibility (COE) purchasing Curio and Relic firearms.
Active, reserve, or honorably retired military personnel.
Active or honorably retired law enforcement officers.
Proof of Residency for Handgun Purchases: California law requires an additional document to confirm residency. Acceptable documents include a recent utility bill, a notarized residential lease, a property deed, or a government-issued license, permit, or registration with your name and address. Unacceptable proofs include pilot licenses, insurance proof, out-of-state CCW, and gardener's bills.


Second Proof of Identity: If your primary ID does not have your current address, a second government-issued proof is required. Acceptable documents are similar to those for proof of residency, including current car registration and municipal utility bills.


Purchase Process and Regulations:
Upon satisfying the prerequisites, you're ready to select and purchase your firearm. Payment in full is required to proceed, with special orders needing at least a 50% down payment. California's "1-in-30" rule limits purchases to one handgun or semi-automatic centerfire rifle every 30 days, with certain exemptions.


The purchase process involves completing ATF Form 4473 in-store, validating all documents, and submitting the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) to the state, which incurs a $37.19 fee. A 10-day waiting period is mandatory for all gun purchases, with potential delays or denials subject to specific procedures.


After Purchase:
Waiting Period: A mandatory 10-day cooling-off period is required for all firearm purchases in California, calculated from the transaction date and time.


Delays and Denials: Delays in the background check process can extend up to 30 days. Denials must be addressed using form BOF8016RR, and restocking fees apply to denied or undetermined status checks.


Delivery: Assuming no issues arise, your firearm will be ready for pickup after the waiting period. Additional paperwork, a safe handling demonstration, and a final paperwork check will be completed before you can take your firearm home.


Final Notes:
Tactical Arms emphasizes the importance of commitment to your purchase due to the time and resources invested in each order. All sales are final, with fees being non-refundable and a 25% restocking fee applied to canceled orders. Tactical Arms does not offer warranties on products; however, many manufacturers provide excellent warranties. Used firearms are sold as-is, and customers are encouraged to have any used firearm evaluated by a gunsmith at their expense.


This guide aims to make your firearm purchase in California as straightforward and compliant with state laws as possible. Tactical Arms is dedicated to assisting you throughout this process, ensuring a legal, efficient, and satisfactory experience.

The State of California prohibits perceived advertising or marketing of firearm related products to persons under 18 years of age.

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