1. What is the minimum age to purchase firearms and ammunition?
The minimum age to purchase firearms is 21 years of age with some exceptions for long guns (see below). The minimum age to purchase handgun ammunition is 21 years of age and rifle or shotgun ammunition is 18 years of age.
Exceptions to the minimum age for purchasing long guns (under 21 but at least 18 years of age):
- Hunting license:
An individual with current and valid California hunting license may ONLY purchase, rent, posses or control the following types of firearms: shotguns with stocks (non pistol grip cruiser type), rimfire rifles, any type of centerfire rifle that is NOT a semi-auto.
They may NOT purchase, rent, posses or control: handguns of any type; receivers; pistol grip shotguns (cruiser type); semi-auto, centerfire rifles.
- Former armed forces or reserves:
Honorably discharged members of the armed forces or reserves may ONLY purchase, rent, posses or control the following types of firearms: shotguns with stocks (non pistol grip cruiser type), rimfire rifles, any type of centerfire rifle that is NOT a semi-auto.
They may NOT purchase, rent, posses or control: handguns of any type; receivers; pistol grip shotguns (cruiser type); semi-auto, centerfire rifles. Proper documentation is required. Documentation is an ID card or other documentation that the person is a honorably discharged member.
- Active peace officers, including federal; reserve peace officers; current, active armed forces; current active armed forces reserves:
With proper documentation, these exemptions apply to ALL types of long guns. The exemptions do NOT apply to handguns, receivers, or pistol grip (cruiser type) shotguns.
2. Is there a waiting period & background check to purchase firearms?
All firearms purchasers must pass a background check to ensure that they are not in a prohibited category. The state mandated fee for a background check (DROS) is $37.19. The background check is performed during the mandatory ten (10) day waiting period. Law Enforcement officers are exempted with an official letter. For waiting period purposes, 1 day equals 24 hours. All waiting periods are calculated exactly, including minutes, etc. Background check is valid for thirty (30) days from date of transmission to DOJ. This provides a twenty (20) day window in which to pick up a firearm, after the mandatory waiting period. Purchasers are limited to one handgun purchase per thirty (30) days, calculated from date & time of transmission to DOJ. Consignment & private party transfers are exempt from one handgun every thirty days.
Effective July 1, 2021. One gun per month rule expansion:
Effective July 1, 2021, semi-automatic centerfire rifles are treated the same way as handguns. One handgun or one semi-automatic rifle is allowed per month.
3. What do I need to purchase a firearm?
To purchase a firearm you need the following:
- An acceptable form(s) of identification. (see FAQ #4 & #5 below)
- Be a California resident and have proof of it. (see FAQ #7 below)
- An FSC card or be exempt. (see FAQ #8 below)
- Provide a thumbprint at the time of sale.
- Safe Handling Demonstration: Before a firearm is picked up, customer must be able to perform a safe handling demonstration to prove that he / she can load, unload, lock, unlock, and safely handle the firearm. This test is performed here in the store, under the supervision of our personnel.
4. What is an acceptable form of identification?
A VALID California driver's license, California State ID card, or Military ID. (Military see FAQ #6 below for more information). No temporary, invalidated or expired licenses are permitted. License must be electronically scanned; if unable to be scanned, then a photocopy must be retained. Driver's licenses that have been invalidated due to outstanding tickets or other serious problems will prevent transfer. If your ID has either an outdated residence address or a P.O. box listed as your address, then Federal Law requires an additional government identification that lists your physical address or new, current address. Some acceptable documents that help prove residential address are: official DMV information printout showing correct address, voter registration card returned to you in the mail confirming your residential address, DMV Automobile Registration, Security Guard Card, CCW permit, etc.
5. Can any California ID be used for purchases?
NO, here is why:
Recently, California DMV began issuing all renewed and new issue
driver's licenses as AB60 compliant licenses - even for US citizens and
permanent resident Aliens.
CA AB60 was signed into law by Governor Brown and mandates that the DMV
issue driver's licenses regardless of immigration status. All licenses
issued after January 22, 2018 fall into this category UNLESS you go
these extra steps: apply for and get issued a "REAL ID" which involves
taking additional documents to the DMV in person.
For further information and images showing the REAL ID:
To prevent possible delays on firearm purchases, DGM encourages all of
our customers to apply for a REAL ID when you renew your driver's
license. THIS CANNOT BE DONE BY MAIL.
You will need a REAL ID when you want to fly or access military bases
or federal facilities after May 7, 2025, unless you also have a passport.
AB60 compliant licenses state on the face "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY" and
"This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes." on the back.
If your California driver license or identification card has “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” on the front, you must also present proof of lawful presence in the United States by providing one of the following documents:
- Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card.
- Certified copy of U.S. birth certificate.
- Certification of Birth Abroad (FS-545), Certification of Report of Birth (DS-1350) or Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (FS-240), issued by the U.S. Department of State.
- Valid, unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. immigrant visa and approved Record of Arrival/ Departure (I-94) form.
- Certified copy of birth certificate from a U.S. Territory.
- Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship.
- Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card.
6. I am in the military, can I buy a gun? What do I need?
Service Members with a Military ID and a copy of purchaser's current orders showing a permanent duty station in California qualify as proof of residency for firearms purchases and Military ID is proof of exemption from FSC requirements. No temporary duty orders are acceptable if permanent duty is outside of California. If no permanent duty station orders are available, a letter from the purchaser's command on official letterhead stating permanent duty status in California; otherwise, purchaser must have either a California driver's license or California State ID Card. A California driver's license or California State ID card may be used for identification purposes with appropriate proof of address documentation (see FAQ #7), and Active Duty Military ID may be used for FSC exemption.
7. What do I need for proof of residency?
For all firearms, Federal law requires a government issued identification that shows residence address. If your ID has a P.O. Box or outdated residence address, a second form of government issued license or ID is required. Some acceptable examples that can show current residence address are: Official DMV printout showing correct address, voter registration card returned to you in the mail confirming your address, current automobile registration, or other government issued document that shows your residence address. Additionally for handguns, California requires proof of residency, even if your State issued ID has your current address. Some acceptable examples are: Current CA automobile registration, signed rental or lease agreement, recent utility bill, or a valid government issued license of some sort that has an expiration date. Here are all acceptable forms of proof of residency: CA acceptable Proof of residency.
8. What is an FSC Card? Do I need one?
Firearm purchasers must have a valid Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) to purchase a firearm. Discount Gun Mart is an officially authorized test provider for California FSC program. The FSC test is comprised of 30 multiple choice questions, similar to the DMV driver's test. A study guide in Adobe PDF may be downloaded here: Firearm Safety Certificate Study Guide. Certain people are exempted from the FSC requirement. For a list of exemptions, go here: FSC exemptions. Exempt persons must provide documentation.
9. Do I need to prove that I am a US Citizen?
MAYBE. If your have a "Real ID" or a "Legacy" (pre-SB60 License - see #5 above) then NO, you have already proved to DMV that you are a US citizen or legal alien and you do not need to provide further proof. If you have a "Federal Limits Apply" license, then YES, you do need to prove your citizenship or legal status in the country if an alien. See FAQ #5 above for acceptable documents.
10. I am an alien. Can I buy (or rent) a gun and/or ammunition?
YES, with the following conditions:
Immigrant Aliens & Aliens from Visa Wavier Countries
Immigrant aliens may possess, purchase, & rent firearms & purchase ammunition. In addition, if an alien is visiting from a country that does not require a visa to be admitted to the US, (see the US State Dept list here) may also purchase and possess firearms & ammo. However, they still must satisfy all other requirements for purchase. The buyer's "A" number must be provided on 4473 and DROS; a photocopy of their INS issued Alien registration card or Admission number (form I94W) must be provided.
Non-immigrant Visa Aliens
Non-immigrant aliens admitted to the US with a visa in certain cases may also purchase, rent or possess firearms or ammunition.
Non-immigrant aliens with a visa must satisfy these special requirements:
- Must provide the visa showing the admission number.
- In addition, aliens admitted under a non-immigrant visa must meet one of these exemptions and provide supporting documentation:
If the alien:
- is in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued by the Federal Government, a State, or local government, or an Indian tribe federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is valid and unexpired;
- was admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes;
- has received a waiver from the prohibition from the Attorney General of the United States;
- is an official representative of a foreign government who is accredited to the United States Government or the Governments mission to an international organization having its headquarters in the United States;
- is en route to or from another country to which that alien is accredited;
- is an official of a foreign government or a distinguished foreign visitor who has been so designated by the Department of State; or
- is a foreign law enforcement officer of a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business.
11. Why do I need to buy a lock? What law(s) apply?
For any transfer of a handgun (including repairs), Federal law (18 U.S.C. chapter 44, section 922(z)) requires a locking device to accompany the firearm when it is picked up. Exemptions: most law enforcement officers, most law enforcement departments and firearms on the curio and relics list (CA does not exempt curios and relics, so this exemption would only apply to repaired curios & relics since repairs are not required under CA law to be locked).
In addition, California law (P.C.12087) requires all firearms (handguns & long guns) sold, transferred or manufactured in CA to have an APPROVED firearm safety device that has been purchased within 30 days of the delivery date (receipt required). For long guns (rifles & shotguns) a safe affidavit may be signed under penalty of perjury stating the make and model of a suitable gun safe. Conflict with Federal law prevents this affidavit from working with handguns. This requirement has exemptions for law enforcement and "antique" firearms as defined under federal law.
One last requirement: The City of San Diego Municipal Code 33.4212 requires that the locking device be attached to the firearm when the transfer occurs.