Firearm Controls and Penalties

Four Pistols These definitions apply to all categories of firearms:

A “firearm” is, any device, designed to be a weapon from which is expelled through a barrel a projectile, by the force of any explosion, or other form of combustion. 1

The terms “pistol,” “revolver,” and “firearm which are capable of being concealed upon the person” include any device, designed to be a weapon, from which is expelled a projectile by the force of any explosion, or other form of combustion, and with a barrel less than 16 inches in length, and any device with a barrel 16 inches or more in length, which is interchanged with a barrel less than 16 inches in length. 2

The term “handgun” means, a “pistol,” “revolver,” or “firearm,” capable of being concealed upon the person. 3

LICENSES TO CARRY PISTOLS, REVOLVERS, CONCEALABLE FIREARMS

In order for an individual to carry or conceal a firearm those agencies responsible for issuing permits must make certain findings:

  • Sheriffs and police departments can only issue licenses to persons on a showing of good cause, which includes a showing of good moral character by the individual applying for the license. 4
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ENTERTAINMENT PERMITS:

When firearms are used for entertainment those intending to do so must receive a permit from the Department of Justice before their use is allowed. The permit authorizes a person to possess firearms loaned to them, for use solely as a prop in a motion picture, television, video, theatrical, or other entertainment production or event. 5

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SHORT-BARRELED SHOTGUNS AND RIFLES PERMITS:

Another area where a permit from the Department of Justice is necessary concerns rifles and shotguns with modified barrel lengths. To issue a permit for the manufacture, possession, transportation, or sale of short-barrel shotguns and rifles there must be a showing of good cause, along with proof there exists no danger to public safety.

AMMUNITION GREATER THAN .60 CALIBER.

There also exist specific limitations on the caliber of ammunition permitted in firearms. A person convicted of selling, offering to sell, possessing, or knowingly transporting ammunition of greater than .60 calibers (except as otherwise authorized by statute) can be sentenced to the county jail for not over 6 months, However, a subsequent conviction is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for not over 1 year if a misdemeanor, or prison if a felony. 6

Large-capacity magazines and large capacity magazine conversion kits, are restricted. A conviction can cause a county jail sentence for up to one year if charged as a misdemeanor, or imprisonment if filed as a felony. 7

RESTRICTIONS AND MARKING ON IMITATION FIREARMS

Statutes also govern the appearance of and use of “imitation firearms.” Imitation firearms include toy guns, replicas of firearms, or other devices that are “so substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm, that a reasonable person would perceive that the device is a firearm.” 8

A person who, for commercial purposes, purchases, sells, manufactures, ships, transports, distributes, or receives, by mail order or in any other manner, an imitation firearm, is liable for a civil fine not to exceed $10,000 9, unless the activity is limited to a specified intended purpose permitted by statute. 10

Imitation firearms are usually required to have recognizable coloring and markings, so they are not confused with actual firearms. If a person changes, alters, removes, or obliterates required coloration or markings for an imitation firearm, or other device,11 in a way that makes the imitation firearm or device look more like a firearm, they are guilty of a misdemeanor. 12

Federal law also governs the manufacturer, importation, and distribution of imitation firearms, those who violate those requirements are guilty of a misdemeanor. 13


1 California Penal Code 26150 et seq.; Gifford v. Los Angeles (2001) 88 C.A.4th 801, 805, 106 C.R.2d 164
2 Section 16530(a) of the California Penal Code.
3 Section 16640(a) of the California Penal Code.
4 California Penal Code 26150 et seq.; Gifford v. Los Angeles (2001) 88 C.A4.4th 801, 805, 106 C.R.2d 164.
5 California Penal Code 29500 et seq.
6 Section 18735 of the California Penal Code.
7 Sections 32311(a); 32310(b) of the California Penal Code.
8 Section 16700(a) of the California Penal Code.
9 Section 20165(a) of the California Penal Code.
10 Section 20165(b) of the California Penal Code.
11 Section 16700(b) of the California Penal Code.
12 Section 20150(a) of the California Penal Code.
13 Section 20155 of the California Penal Code