Summary of California C&R (Class 03) FFL related law, updated August 10th, 2012.
Using your C&R Class 03 FFL you can buy from anyone and receive from out of state by common carrier, in conformity with federal law, any firearm that cannot be readily concealed on the person, i.e. long rifle, that is a federally defined C&R that is at least 50 years old (manufactured in or before 1961) excluding of course machine guns.
It MUST be more than 50 years old. Items dated 1962 or later are NOT C&R in California, even if on the Federal C&R list.
True antiques (rifles & pistols manufactured before January 1st, 1899) are exempt because they are not considered firearms (not even in California).
NO PISTOL or concealable firearm, regardless of C&R status can be ordered from out of state and shipped in, or sold within the state without going through a Class 01 Dealer FFL.
There is now a limit of 1 pistol per 30 day period even if ordered through a dealer. This rule applies to all pistols, including C&R pistols. There is currently (subject to change at any time) an exception to this limit for holders of both a Class 03 (C&R) FFL and COE (Certificate of Eligibility).
Within California, non dealers, which includes private parties with or without a Class 03 (C&R) FFL license, can sell each other any rifle that cannot be readily concealed on the person that is a federally defined C&R more than 50 years old (except to minors, drug addicts and those with felony or certain misdemeanor criminal records). This is supposed to be on an occasional basis only - a fuzzy concept for which you must check the statutes and case law yourself, but a few a year is probably ok. Just don't make a business of it.
ANY transfer by a Class 01 dealer FFL in California, even if it would be exempt if made between private parties, requires a DROS (Dealer Record of Sale), DROS fee ($20+), background check and 10 day wait. If you have a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) you are supposed to be exempt from needing a background check.
Commencing January 1, 2002, California law requires all firearms sold, transferred, or manufactured in California must include a firearm safety device approved by the Attorney General. Specified transactions (including antique firearms, law enforcement firearms, and transactions involving a prior purchase of an approved safety device or qualifying gun safe) are exempt from this requirement. The DOJ has certified laboratories to test firearms safety devices for compliance with DOJ standards. The DOJ maintains a roster that lists all of the tested safety devices that comply with DOJ standards for sale in this state. Interested parties may request a copy of the roster from the DOJ or access it on the DOJ website HERE (PC § 12088.1).
Any California resident can sell and ship a C&R long rifle to a Class 01 (dealer) or Class 03 (C&R) FFL who resides out of state, subject to the recipients state's laws and the usual federal laws regarding transport. .
It is unclear whether a Class 03 C&R FFL or private party can sell and ship a C&R pistol to an out of state Class 03 C&R FFL (since the handgun will still be REGISTERED to you in California). Should you wish to do this, you should call the DOJ and get their opinion before doing the transaction. So long as the transaction complies with federal firearms laws and the local laws of the receiving Class 03 C&R FFL, it should be ok, but there CAN be exceptions. You should make the determination of legality to your own satisfaction BEFORE attempting the transaction.
A federally defined C&R pistol, regardless of age, can be imported into CA if it is legally purchased out of state by a CA resident with a Class 03 C&R FFL and if physical possession of the piece is taken by the Californian Class 03 C&R FFL outside of CA. It can be imported by the CA Class 03 C&R FFL purchaser only. Importation of the pistol must be reported within 5 days to the DOJ on their special form BCIA 4100A (NEW! download form 4100A HERE) with a $19 payment per firearm. Buying a C&R Makarov with your Class 03 C&R FFL in Las Vegas or Arizona and bringing it back to California is OK if you register it within 5 days of entering California.
When you receive or download the form BCIA 4100A (http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/forms/pdf/curioapp.pdf) make copies for the next time you need one. I highly recommend that you do this IN ADVANCE of any purchase (i.e., before you need it).
A CA Class 01 dealer can sell and ship any C&R pistol or rifle to a Class 03 (C&R) FFL who resides out of state, subject to the receiving Class 03's state laws and the usual federal laws regarding transfer and transport. The transfer must be directly to the out of state address that appears on the FFL; if the non-resident wants to pick it up in CA, all usual rules apply (DROS & 10 day waiting period). You may have to have the dealer call the DOJ to ok this; not all dealers are on top of the C&R regulations.
California law requires that a Curio & Relic firearm must be at least 50 years old to be exempt from the dealer transfer requirements. Many federally defined C&R models have manufacturing dates that span the 50 year mark, and it's perfectly legitimate to buy one you can prove was made in 1961 or before, but illegal to buy one made in 1962 except through a Class 01 FFL dealer in California. Since there is no way to tell the difference with many of these (often the barrel is stamped with a date but the receiver isn't) a dealer SHOULD NOT ship a rifle to a California Class 03 C&R FFL holder that cannot be readily and absolutely dated 1961 or before.
The new "ASSAULT WEAPONS" laws include some C&R, depending on configuration. The DOJ has not issued a weapon specific list (and probably will not), so each semi-auto C&R must be evaluated against the statute. You can find the statue and proposed regulations at the CA DOJ firearms website http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/forms/ You must look at BOTH the statute and the regulations. Other than antiques, defined as manufactured prior to January 1, 1899, which are specifically exempt, ANY semi-auto C&R rifle or pistol is potentially an "assault weapon." An "assault weapon" can NOT be imported, even through a Class 01 (dealer) FFL, except under very restricted (LEO, etc) circumstances. Depending on configuration, "assault weapons" can include M1 carbines, Garands, Mas 49 and 49/56, FN-49, C96 Mauser Broomhandles, Yugoslavian 59/66 SKS's, etc. All semi-auto firearms are suspect; the law is configuration specific, and removal or addition of a single feature can make a firearm legal, or banned.
A ban on magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds went into effect January 1, 2000. Magazines (this includes MG links) holding more than 10 rounds can no longer be imported into California or transferred within the state. You can not even loan such a magazine except under strictly limited circumstances. This ban includes many C&R magazines, and it applies to all magazines, even those for bolt action rifles (Ishapore Enfield 12 round mags, for example).
Under California law, the only thing a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) does for Class 03 (C&R) FFL holders is that it lets you skip the waiting period for C&R purchased in state from a dealer, and for now allows the purchase of more than one handgun (modern and C&R) per 30 days. You must have both a Class 03 (C&R) FFL and COE to do this! Even with the COE you still have to do a DROS form and background check and pay the fee each time, usually $20 + dealer mark up. So, unless you absolutely can't wait the 10 days, or need to buy more than one pistol per 30 days, the COE is a $72, plus cost of fingerprinting and annual $17 renewal fee that is probably wasted. It is often difficult to convince dealers about what the COE does.
If you don't have a copy of the CA DOJ's "California Firearms Laws 2006" you should download it in PDF format from: http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/forms/pdf/Cfl2006.pdf
It is not complete and may be misleading in some areas, but it is a good basic guide that will reference code sections for you, which you can then find posted at the DOJ site. You should bookmark the statute page for reference. There is NO substitute for actually reading and understanding the actual text of the statutes: http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/dwcl/index.html
Another useful reference is the current CA edition of "How to Own a Gun & Stay Out of Jail", by John Machtinger, which is sold by most CA gun shops (or click on the title to go directly to their website). This book is a must for any CA gun owner.
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