Firearm Transfers by Persons Not Licensed in California

Collage of firearmsTo transfer firearms in California one of the parties must have a license. Where neither party to a firearm’s transaction holds a dealer's license they must complete the sale, loan, or transfer of the firearm through a licensed dealer. However, this requirement is subject to numerous exceptions regarding specific transactions. 1

It is unlawful for a person with a federal license under 18 U.S.C., §921 et seq., to deliver, sell, or transfer a firearm to a licensed person in California unless the person intending to deliver, sell, or transfer the firearm obtains a verification number from the Department of Justice via the Internet.2 The department must determine whether the intended recipient is on one of the centralized lists of dealers, exempted licensees, or manufacturers, and if so, issue a unique verification number to the inquiring party. 3

  • The transferring party must provide that number to the recipient when delivering the firearm.4
  • If the department finds that the intended recipient is not on one of these lists, the department must notify the inquiring party that the intended recipient is ineligible to receive the firearm. 5
REPORTING AND IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONCEALABLE FIREARMS

If any of these circumstances apply, a violation of 27500 et seq., becomes a felony:

  • The transfer is to a prohibited person in violation of 27500(a).6
  • The defendant has a prior conviction for specified firearms offenses. 7
  • The defendant is in a class prohibited from firearm ownership under certain designated statutes. 8
  • The defendant actively participated in a criminal street gang, as defined in 186.22. 9
  • The violation is of Penal Code section 27510, involving the delivery of a firearm to a minor. 10

If any of these circumstances apply, a violation of 27500 et seq., is a felony-misdemeanor, either county jail for not over one year as a misdemeanor, or prison if a felony.

  • The transfer is to a prohibited person 27500(b), or to a person other than the actual purchaser. 11
  • The acquisition of the firearm attempts to avoid legal requirements. 12
  • The violation is the transfer of a handgun to a person under age 21. 13
  • The violation involves the delivery of a handgun to a person under age 21. 14
  • The violation involves the improper delivery of a handgun. 15
  • The violation involves the transfer between unlicensed persons. 16
  • The violation involves collusion regarding firearm safety certificates. 17

If there is a transfer of a firearm in violation of 27500(b) or 27510 to someone subsequently convicted of using it in a felony, and the sentence under 27590(d) is imposed, an additional prison term of 1, 2, or 3 years must be given in addition and consecutive to the imposed sentence under 27590(d).

MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS TO PURCHASE CONCEALABLE FIREARMS WITHIN 30 DAYS.
  • A first violation of 27535, involving multiple applications to purchase a handgun within a 30-day period, is an infraction, punishable by a fine of $50. 18
  • A second violation is an infraction punishable by a fine of $100. 19
  • Subsequent violations are misdemeanors. 20

For these provisions, each application to purchase a handgun in violation of 27535 is a separate offense. 21


1 Sections 27850 et seq of the California Penal Code.
2 Section 27555(a)(1) of the California Penal Code.
3 Section 27555(c)(1) of the California Penal Code.
4 Section 27555(c)(3) of the California Penal Code.
5 Section 27555(d) of the California Penal Code.
6 Section 27590(b)(1) of the California Penal Code.
7 Section 27590(b)(2), (b)(3) of the California Penal Code.
8 Section 27590(b)(4) of the California Penal Code.
9 Section 27590(b)(5) of the California Penal Code.
10 Section 27590(b)(6) of the California Penal Code.
11 Section 27590(c)(1) of the California Penal Code.
12 Sections 27590(c)(2); 27590(c)(1) of the California Penal Code.
13 Section 27590(c)(2) of the California Penal Code.
14 Section 27590(c)(3) of the California Penal Code.
15 Section 27590(c)(4) of the California Penal Code.
16 Section 27590(c)(5) of the California Penal Code.
17 Section 27590(c)(6) of the California Penal Code.
18 Section 27590(e)(1) of the California Penal Code.
19 Section 27590(e)(2) of the California Penal Code.
20 Section 27590(e)(3) of the California Penal Code.
21 Section 27590(e)(4) of the California Penal Code.