Can A Permanent Resident Buy A Gun In California?

For permanent residents in California interested in buying a gun, the laws and restrictions can be complex to navigate. With both federal and state regulations in place, determining if you’re eligible as a permanent resident to purchase firearms in California takes some research.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Permanent residents in California can legally buy guns if they have a valid hunting license issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other requirements around background checks and waiting periods also apply.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover key topics like California’s firearm laws for permanent residents, required documents, types of guns you can and can’t purchase, and more. With over 2.5 million permanent residents in California, understanding your gun rights and restrictions as a green card holder is important.

California Gun Laws for Permanent Residents

When it comes to gun ownership, California has some of the strictest laws in the United States. These laws apply not only to citizens but also to permanent residents of the state. It is important for permanent residents to understand the regulations and requirements before attempting to purchase a firearm.

Overview of State and Federal Regulations

California’s gun laws are a combination of state and federal regulations. The state laws are designed to be more restrictive than federal laws, with the aim of ensuring public safety. As a permanent resident, you must comply with both sets of regulations in order to legally purchase and possess a firearm.

Under California law, certain individuals are prohibited from owning firearms, including those with certain criminal convictions, restraining orders, or mental health issues. Federal law also prohibits certain individuals from owning firearms, including nonimmigrant visa holders and individuals with felony convictions.

It is worth noting that California has a “may-issue” policy for concealed carry permits. This means that while permanent residents are generally allowed to own firearms, obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon can be challenging and is subject to local law enforcement discretion.

Required Documents and Steps to Purchase a Firearm

Before purchasing a firearm in California, permanent residents must meet certain requirements and provide specific documents. These requirements include:

  • Being at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun (rifle or shotgun) and 21 years old to purchase a handgun.
  • Completing a background check through the California Department of Justice.
  • Providing proof of residency, such as a valid California driver’s license or identification card.
  • Completing a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) test, which demonstrates knowledge of firearm safety laws and operation.

Once these requirements are met, permanent residents can proceed with purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. It is important to note that there is a 10-day waiting period before the firearm can be picked up.

Additionally, it is crucial to familiarize oneself with the specific regulations and restrictions in the city or county where one resides, as local laws may impose additional requirements or limitations on firearm ownership.

For more detailed information on California gun laws for permanent residents, it is recommended to visit the California Department of Justice website. They provide comprehensive resources and up-to-date information on firearm regulations in the state.

Types of Guns Permanent Residents Can and Can’t Buy in California

Handguns and Long Guns Allowed with a Hunting License

California has specific laws and regulations regarding gun ownership, including for permanent residents. A permanent resident, also known as a Green Card holder, has the right to purchase certain types of firearms in the state.

One of the requirements for purchasing handguns and long guns as a permanent resident is to obtain a valid hunting license.

With a hunting license, permanent residents can purchase and possess handguns and long guns for hunting purposes. These firearms are commonly used for activities such as sport shooting, target practice, and hunting game.

It’s important to note that the hunting license must be valid and up to date in order to legally purchase and possess these firearms.

Handguns and long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, are popular choices among hunters and sport shooters. They offer accuracy, power, and versatility for various shooting activities. Permanent residents who are interested in purchasing these firearms should ensure they meet all the necessary requirements, including obtaining a valid hunting license.

Restricted Firearms like Assault Weapons

While permanent residents can purchase handguns and long guns with a hunting license, there are certain firearms that are restricted in California. One example is assault weapons, which are heavily regulated due to their potential for mass destruction and harm.

Permanent residents, as well as other individuals, are not allowed to purchase or possess assault weapons in California.

California has enacted strict laws regarding assault weapons, defining them as firearms with specific features such as detachable magazines, pistol grips, and flash suppressors. These firearms are prohibited for purchase and possession by both residents and non-residents, including permanent residents.

It’s important for permanent residents to be aware of these restrictions and comply with the laws to avoid any legal ramifications. The California Department of Justice provides detailed information and resources on gun laws and regulations in the state, and it is recommended to refer to their official website for the most up-to-date information.

Completing the Firearm Purchasing Process as a Permanent Resident

As a permanent resident in California, you may be wondering about the process of purchasing a firearm. While it is true that there are certain restrictions in place, it is still possible for permanent residents to buy a gun.

Here is a breakdown of the steps involved in completing the firearm purchasing process.

Finding a Licensed Firearms Dealer

The first step in purchasing a firearm as a permanent resident is to find a licensed firearms dealer. These dealers are authorized by the state to sell firearms and will guide you through the purchasing process.

It’s important to choose a reputable dealer who can provide you with the necessary information and assistance.

Pro tip: To find a licensed firearms dealer in your area, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice. They have a directory that allows you to search for dealers by location.

Background Checks and Waiting Periods

Once you have found a licensed dealer, you will need to undergo a background check. This includes a review of your criminal history, mental health records, and any other relevant information. The background check is an important step in ensuring that firearms are not sold to individuals who pose a risk to public safety.

In addition to the background check, there is also a mandatory waiting period before you can take possession of the firearm. In California, the waiting period is typically 10 days. This waiting period allows for additional time to complete the necessary paperwork and ensures that there is a cooling-off period before the firearm is obtained.

Safe Handling Demonstration and Firearms Safety Certificate

Before you can purchase a firearm, you will need to complete a safe handling demonstration and obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate (FSC). The safe handling demonstration involves showing that you can safely handle and operate a firearm.

The FSC is a certificate that demonstrates your knowledge of firearms safety laws and regulations.

Did you know? To obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate, you will need to pass a written test administered by the California Department of Justice. This test covers topics such as firearm laws, storage requirements, and safe handling practices.

Completing the firearm purchasing process as a permanent resident in California may require some additional steps and requirements compared to citizens. However, with the necessary knowledge and guidance, you can navigate the process and exercise your right to purchase a firearm.

Exceptions and Other Considerations for Permanent Residents

When it comes to purchasing firearms in California, permanent residents have certain exceptions and considerations to keep in mind. These exceptions include purchasing limits and frequency, non-resident exceptions, and prohibited places for carrying firearms.

Purchasing Limits and Frequency

Permanent residents in California are subject to the same purchasing limits and frequency as U.S. citizens. This means that they must adhere to the state’s laws regarding the age requirement for purchasing firearms, background checks, and waiting periods.

For example, an individual must be at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun and 21 years old to purchase a handgun.

Additionally, there are restrictions on the number of firearms that can be purchased within a certain time frame. In California, there is a 30-day waiting period for purchasing multiple firearms. This waiting period applies to both U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Non-Resident Exceptions

While California law generally requires a valid California ID or driver’s license for firearm purchases, there are exceptions for non-residents. Non-residents, including permanent residents, can purchase firearms in California as long as they meet certain criteria.

For example, they must possess a valid identification document from their state of residence and must comply with all federal laws and regulations.

It is important to note that non-residents may be subject to additional requirements and restrictions, so it is advisable to consult with local authorities or legal counsel before attempting to purchase a firearm in California as a non-resident.

Prohibited Places for Carrying Firearms

Regardless of residency status, there are certain places where carrying firearms is prohibited in California. These include government buildings, schools, and private properties with posted signs prohibiting firearms.

It is crucial for permanent residents and all firearm owners to familiarize themselves with these prohibited places to avoid potential legal consequences.

For more information on the specific laws and regulations regarding firearm ownership and purchasing in California, individuals can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms:


While permanent residents in California do have the ability to legally purchase firearms with the proper hunting license, there are still many restrictions and requirements to be aware of.

By understanding state and federal gun laws, completing required steps, and staying up-to-date on any regulation changes, permanent residents can legally buy certain guns for hunting and sporting purposes.

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