The internet has made shopping incredibly convenient for purchasing anything from clothes to groceries to collectibles. But when it comes to firearms, online sales come with major restrictions – especially in a state like California with strict gun laws.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: You can legally buy guns online in California but only if they are shipped to a local licensed firearms dealer for transfer and background check. Direct online sales are prohibited for both in-state and out-of-state purchases.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying guns online in the Golden State. You’ll learn about relevant CA laws, the process for receiving online gun purchases, types of firearms allowed, dealer requirements, required background checks, fees, and more. Let’s take a close look at the rules and procedures for legally and safely purchasing firearms over the internet as a California resident.

Overview of California Gun Laws

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. It is important for individuals who are interested in purchasing firearms to understand the regulations and requirements set forth by the state. This article will provide an overview of key aspects of California gun laws.

Firearms Safety Certificate

In order to purchase a firearm in California, individuals must first obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate (FSC). This certificate demonstrates that the individual has completed a safety course and passed a written test on firearm safety.

The FSC is valid for five years and is required for all firearm purchases.

The safety course covers topics such as safe handling and storage of firearms, as well as California’s laws regarding gun ownership and use. It is designed to ensure that individuals purchasing firearms are knowledgeable and responsible gun owners.

10-Day Waiting Period

Another important aspect of California gun laws is the 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases. This waiting period begins after the purchase is made, regardless of whether the firearm is bought in-store or online.

During this time, a background check is conducted to determine the eligibility of the buyer.

The waiting period allows for a thorough review of the buyer’s criminal history and mental health records. It is intended to prevent impulsive purchases and give law enforcement adequate time to complete the necessary background checks.

Age Requirements

California law sets age requirements for the purchase and possession of firearms. Individuals must be at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun. However, to purchase a handgun, individuals must be at least 21 years old.

It is important to note that these age requirements apply to both in-store and online purchases. Online sellers are required to comply with California’s laws and ensure that the buyer meets the age requirements before completing the transaction.

For further information on California gun laws, individuals can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice:

Rules for Online Gun Purchases in California

California has strict regulations when it comes to purchasing firearms, and the rules for buying guns online are no exception. Understanding these rules is crucial for anyone looking to purchase a gun online within the state.

Direct Sales Prohibited

In California, it is illegal to purchase a firearm directly from an out-of-state seller. This means that you cannot buy a gun online and have it shipped directly to your doorstep. Instead, all firearms purchased online must be transferred through a licensed firearms dealer.

This restriction is in place to ensure that all gun sales are properly regulated and that the necessary background checks and documentation are completed. It helps to prevent illegal sales and keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

FFL Transfer Requirement

When purchasing a firearm online in California, the gun must be transferred through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder. This means that the seller will ship the firearm to a licensed dealer in your area, who will then complete the necessary paperwork and background checks before transferring the gun to you.

It is important to note that FFL holders may charge a fee for this service, so it is advisable to research and compare prices before making a purchase. Additionally, the FFL dealer may have their own requirements and restrictions, so be sure to check with them before initiating the transfer.

Eligible Firearms

Not all firearms are eligible for online purchase in California. The state has a list of approved handguns known as the “Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale.” Only firearms that are on this roster can be legally sold and transferred within the state.

It is crucial for buyers to check the roster before making a purchase to ensure that the firearm they are interested in is approved. The roster is regularly updated, and certain models may be added or removed over time.

For more information on California’s regulations regarding online gun purchases, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice:

Remember, it is essential to follow all applicable laws and regulations when purchasing firearms. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, and violating these regulations can result in serious legal consequences.

Buying Process for Online Gun Sales

Buying guns online has become increasingly popular in recent years, offering convenience and a wide selection for firearm enthusiasts. However, the process of purchasing guns online in California is subject to certain regulations to ensure safety and compliance with the law.

Order and Ship to FFL

When buying guns online in California, the first step is to find a licensed Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. This is because it is illegal to have firearms shipped directly to an individual’s address in the state. FFL dealers are authorized to receive and transfer firearms on behalf of buyers.

Once you have chosen the firearm you wish to purchase, you will need to provide the FFL dealer’s information to the online seller. The seller will then ship the firearm to the FFL dealer, who will handle the transfer process.

Background Check and Waiting Period

After the firearm has been shipped to the FFL dealer, the buyer must complete the necessary paperwork and undergo a background check. This includes filling out a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, which collects information about the buyer’s eligibility to possess a firearm.

Once the background check is completed, there is a mandatory 10-day waiting period before the buyer can take possession of the firearm. This waiting period allows for additional time to conduct thorough background checks and ensure that the buyer is legally eligible to own a firearm.

Fees for FFL Transfers

It is important to note that FFL dealers typically charge a fee for their services. This fee covers the paperwork, background check, and storage of the firearm during the waiting period. The amount of the fee can vary from dealer to dealer, so it is advisable to inquire about the cost before initiating the online purchase.

Additionally, buyers should be aware that there may be additional fees involved in the transfer process, such as California state fees or taxes. It is recommended to consult with the FFL dealer to get a complete understanding of all the associated costs.

Receiving Your Online Gun Purchase

Picking Up from FFL

Once you have made an online gun purchase in California, you cannot have it shipped directly to your home. Instead, you must arrange for the firearm to be transferred to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder.

These licensed dealers play a crucial role in the process of receiving your online gun purchase.

When selecting an FFL dealer, it is important to ensure that they are willing to accept your online purchase. Many gun stores and shooting ranges offer FFL services, so it’s worth calling around to find one that meets your needs.

Remember to check their transfer fees and any additional requirements they may have.

After the online gun purchase is made, you will need to provide the seller with the contact information of the FFL dealer you have chosen. The seller will then ship the firearm to the FFL dealer, who will be responsible for performing the necessary background checks and paperwork upon its arrival.

Safety Demonstration and Storage Requirements

Once your online gun purchase has arrived at the FFL dealer, you will need to visit their premises in person to complete the transfer. At this point, you will be required to undergo a safety demonstration, which is a standard procedure in California.

The safety demonstration typically includes instructions on how to handle the firearm safely and responsibly. It is essential to pay close attention during this demonstration, as it will help you understand the proper use and storage of your new firearm.

In addition to the safety demonstration, California has strict storage requirements for firearms. It is important to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure compliance. For instance, firearms must be stored in a locked container or equipped with a locking device when not in use.

Remember, responsible gun ownership is crucial for the safety of yourself and others. Adhering to the safety demonstration and storage requirements will help prevent accidents and keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

For more information on California gun laws and regulations, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice:

Restrictions on Online Ammunition Sales

When it comes to purchasing firearms and ammunition, California has some of the most stringent regulations in the United States. While it is possible to buy guns online in California, the same cannot be said for ammunition.

The state has implemented a series of restrictions on online ammunition sales to ensure the responsible and legal distribution of these potentially dangerous products.

In-State Seller Requirement

One of the main restrictions on online ammunition sales in California is the in-state seller requirement. This means that individuals who want to purchase ammunition online must do so from a licensed ammunition vendor within the state.

This regulation aims to prevent the sale and distribution of ammunition from unlicensed sellers or vendors located outside of California.

Age Verification System

Another important restriction on online ammunition sales is the mandatory age verification system. Before completing a purchase, buyers must provide proof that they are at least 21 years old for handgun ammunition and at least 18 years old for long gun ammunition.

This requirement helps ensure that only individuals who meet the legal age requirements can access and purchase ammunition online.

Limits on Quantity

California also imposes limits on the quantity of ammunition that can be purchased online. As of July 1, 2019, individuals are restricted to purchasing a maximum of 50 rounds of ammunition per month. This limitation is intended to prevent stockpiling and to ensure that ammunition sales are conducted responsibly.

It is important to note that these restrictions on online ammunition sales are in place to promote public safety and prevent the illegal distribution of firearms and ammunition. By implementing these regulations, California aims to curb gun violence and ensure that only responsible individuals have access to firearms and ammunition.


While online gun sales add convenience, California residents must follow all state regulations requiring shipment and transfer through a local FFL. Handguns, modern rifles, and ammunition can be purchased online but only through in-state sellers.

Carefully vet any online firearm retailer and understand the total fees involved before ordering. While state laws restrict direct sales, legal online purchases combined with an FFL transfer allow CA gun owners to access a wider selection.

Following the proper procedures ensures online gun transactions remain compliant and secure. With prudent precautions, California residents can utilize internet convenience while still supporting public safety.

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