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California Gun Laws 2023

California Gun Laws in 2023: What You Need to Know

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Just last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed over a dozen new firearm-related bills into law, building on the state’s already tough restrictions. Here’s an overview of the key California gun laws as of 2023 that gun owners—and wannabe gun owners—should know about.

Buying Guns in California

If you want to purchase a gun in California, you’ll need to obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate by passing a written test. Then, you’ll undergo an extensive background check through the Department of Justice that can take days or weeks to complete. If you pass, you can buy your gun.

California also has a 10-day waiting period on all firearm purchases, even if your background check clears sooner. The state bans assault weapons and limits handgun purchases to one per 30-day period. And all firearms dealers must have state licenses and comply with various recording and reporting requirements.

In 2023, California enacted the nation’s first tax on firearms and ammunition sales. On top of the existing federal excise tax, the state now tacks on an extra 11% tax when you buy guns and ammo. The funds will go toward gun violence prevention programs.

Concealed Carry Permits

Historically, California sheriffs and police chiefs had broad discretion over issuing concealed carry weapon (CCW) permits. But after the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, the rules changed.

Now, California will grant CCW permits to most non-prohibited adults as long as they:

  • Complete 16 hours of firearms training
  • Undergo an in-person interview
  • Provide character references
  • Pass a background check
  • Are at least 21 years old

The state also banned concealed weapons from being carried in “sensitive places,” including:

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  • Schools
  • Government buildings
  • Public parks
  • Bars
  • Sports arenas
  • Public transit

These new 2023 laws led gun rights groups to file a lawsuit challenging the restrictions, so we’ll have to wait and see whether they hold up in court.

Assault Weapons Ban

California first restricted assault weapons over 30 years ago. While the definition has expanded, it still bans things like:

  • AR-15, AK-47, and Uzi-style weapons
  • Certain shotguns and pistols
  • Large-capacity magazines
  • Bullet button modifications

You also can’t buy or import gun parts to build assault weapons. And you must register assault weapons you already owned before recent bans took effect.

Federal judges have overturned California’s assault weapon bans twice in recent years. But both decisions are being appealed. For now, the bans remain in effect.

Gun Storage and Safety Laws

If you have kids at home, you must keep guns locked away or secured with a trigger lock. California also requires concealed carry permit holders to complete a firearms safety course. And dealers must provide safe storage guides and offer lockboxes for sale.

Some cities, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, have additional safety precautions for keeping guns secure in homes and vehicles.

Gun Violence Restraining Orders

California has “red flag” laws allowing courts to temporarily remove firearms from individuals showing warning signs of violence or instability. Family members and roommates can request emergency 21-day orders. And law enforcement can seek longer orders lasting up to a year.

Microstamping Requirements

A new 2023 California law will require all handguns sold in the state to microstamp ammo casings by 2028. Microstamping technology imprints bullet casings with traceable serial numbers when a gun fires. The goal is to help law enforcement solve crimes by tracing recovered casings back to the gun that fired them.

The Legal Landscape

California frequently faces lawsuits challenging its tough firearm laws. While restrictions have largely held up so far, some conservative judges—including one San Diego-based federal judge with a history of overturning the state’s gun laws—may find certain new regulations inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s current interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The legal battle around the right to bear arms in California is likely to continue playing out for years to come. But one thing’s for sure—the state legislature and Gov. Newsom remain committed to enacting the strictest gun control laws allowable to keep Californians safe.

So there’s an overview of key California gun laws after the flurry of 2023 changes. Considering the complex and evolving legal landscape around firearms, I definitely recommend connecting with a knowledgeable California gun rights lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about staying on the right side of the law. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you need any legal assistance or advice!

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