California is getting more and more strict with which handguns it allows to be purchased in the state. In 2001, legislators created a California Handgun Roster. This lists the ONLY handguns which can be bought new in this state, (unless you are a peace officer/military/employed by one of the departments listed here or have a grandparent, parent or child out of state and follow the instructions for completing an intrafamilial transfer). For a firearm to get on the roster, the manufacturer must submit each model of handgun to be tested (along with a fee). They must pass firing, safety, and drop tests to be allowed for sale, and continue to pay the fee each year to be kept on the list. (Note that this is each MODEL (SKU#), so a P238, for example, has different SKU#’s for the different colors it comes in. Despite the fact that the blue P238 is the exact same gun as the black P238, since Sig only submitted two out of the several different models for testing, these are the only two allowed for sale in California.)
In addition to this testing, a microstamping law came into effect in 2014 when the technology to stamp identifying marks on each cartridge as it’s fired became theoretically available, although no manufacturer has been able to comply with it yet. This law was appealed all the way to the CA Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of it last June (2018). As the associated press paraphrased, “The California Supreme Court says state laws cannot be invalidated on the grounds that complying with them is impossible.” Due to this law, not a single handgun has been added to the list since it was enacted, and there is no hope yet of any being added in the future.
You ARE allowed to buy non-rostered used handguns that are already in the state. Sometimes these come up for sale if someone who is exempt from the roster acquired one and now wants to sell it. These are legal to buy as a private party transfer done through any FFL, although due to supply and demand, they are usually few and far between, and very pricy.
Be cautious when looking at handguns on sites such as
gunbroker.com. Verify that the EXACT SKU#
is on the roster (many CA-approved models have “CA” added at the end of the SKU#,
etc.) or verify that the used firearm is owned by someone already in
California. Any questions, ask your
As always, if you’re unhappy with these laws, we encourage you to vote in every election, join CRPA, and write respectful, informed letters to your representatives.