Unsafe Handguns and Ammunition

Box of ammunitionThere are several statutes that specifically concern handgun safety’s differing prohibitions and restrictions from those of other firearms. These often involve the particular nature of handguns which are smaller and less visible than larger ones as a result have safety and tracing considerations not necessarily applicable to larger firearms.

One such requirement is the prohibition which can result in a felony conviction from changing, altering, removing or obliterating the name of the maker, model and, manufacturer's number or other identification mark, including a distinguishing number or mark, on a pistol, revolver, or other, without written authorization from the Department of justice. 1

Also any person who manufactures, imports for sale, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, gives, or lends an unsafe handgun is guilty of a misdemeanor and could be sentence to county jail for not over 1 year.

An “unsafe handgun” is a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed on the person that does not have specified safety devices or does not meet specified standards relating to the safe firing of the firearm including the ability to prevent firing accidentally if dropped. 2

"HANDGUN AMMUNITION" MEANS AMMUNITION PRINCIPALLY FOR USE IN PISTOLS, REVOLVERS, AND OTHER FIREARMS CAPABLE OF BEING CONCEALED ON THE PERSON, EVEN THOUGH IT MAY ALSO BE USED IN SOME RIFLES. 3

Several revolversCertain forms of ammunition are prohibited. One example is armor piercing ammunition which is “handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor.” It applies to any ammunition, except a shotgun shell or ammunition designed primarily for use in rifles, that is designed chiefly to penetrate a body vest or shield, and either:

  • Has a projectile or projectile core constructed, except for traces of other substances, from specified materials, or is primarily manufactured or designed, by its shape, cross-sectional density, or any coating applied to it, to penetrate a body vest or shield when fired from a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed on the person. 4
  • The knowing possession of handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor is a misdemeanor. 5
  • The manufacture, importation, sale, offer to sell, or knowing transportation of this ammunition is a felony. 6
THE STATUTORY PROHIBITIONS DO NOT APPLY TO THE FOLLOWING:
  • The sale to, purchase by, possession of, or use of ammunition by members of law enforcement and by military personnel, forensic laboratories, or persons holding a valid permit to use destructive devices under 18900 et seq.
  • The possession of handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor by a person who found the ammunition, if the person is not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under existing statutes, and is in the course of transporting the ammunition to a law enforcement agency for disposition. 7
  • The possession, importation, sale, attempted sale, or transportation of ammunition whose propellant has been removed and primer permanently deactivated. 8
  • The manufacture of ammunition under contracts approved by state or federal agencies. 9

A handgun ammunition vendor is a person, firm, corporation, dealer, or other business enterprise engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition, or that holds itself out as engaged in the business of selling handgun ammunition. 10

  • Handgun ammunition vendors must accurately record specified information when they sell or transfer ownership of handgun ammunition. 11
  • They must retain this information for at least 5 years and ensure that it is available for authorized inspection. A violation of these provisions is a misdemeanor. 12

1 Sections 23900; 23910; 23915 of the California Penal Code.
2 Section 32000(a) of the California Penal Code.
3 Sections 31910; 16650(a) of the California Penal Code.
4 Section 16660 (3) of the California Penal Code.
5 Section 1170(h) of the California Penal Code
6 Section 30320 of the California Penal Code.
7 Section 30325 of the California Penal Code.
8 Section 30335 of the California Penal Code.
9 Section 30340 of the California Penal Code.
10 Section 16662 of the California Penal Code.
11 Section 30352(a) of the California Penal Code.
12 Section 30365(a) of the California Penal Code.