Everyone who purchases a firearm in California must complete a Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) to have the firearm(s) registered in their name. But what if you move to California from out of state, inherit a firearm, or simply want to register a firearm you purchased before DROS forms were computerized? Here's the basics of what you need to know.
Moving to California
A New Resident Report of Firearm Ownership must be submitted when someone moves into California with a firearm acquired from out of state. By law, this report must be submitted within sixty (60) days of bringing the firearm into California.
Intra-Familial Firearm Transfers
The Report of Intra-Familial Firearm Transaction is used by family members when both reside in California, who would like to claim title or possession of a firearm by gift, bequest, and intestate succession or by any other means from an immediate family member. An “immediate family member” is defined in California Penal Code section 16720 for purposes of this exemption as a parent, grandparent, child or grandchild. This form must be submitted within thirty (30) days of the transfer. The receiving family member must have a valid Firearm Safety Certificate.
If transferring a firearm from (or to) another state, it must be sent from one gun dealer (in the owner's state) to another gun dealer (in the recipient's state) where it will be DROS'd before taking ownership. Ask your local gun dealer for more information about how to do this.
Transfer By Operation Of Law
The Report of Transfer by Operation of Law is available to people who want to take title or possession of a firearm by “operation of law” without going through a licensed firearms dealer. There are a number of ways a person may acquire a firearm by “operation of law.” These are discussed in California Penal Code section 16990 and include an executor or administrator of an estate, spouses, trustee in bankruptcy, etc. The person submitting the report must have a valid Firearm Safety Certificate.
The Firearm Ownership Report allows you to voluntarily report ownership of (i.e., register) a firearm with the DOJ. This form is most often used by firearm owners to register firearms they acquired years ago that are not currently registered to them. While registration is not required, some owners prefer registering their firearms for ease of retrieval in the happenstance that the firearms are lost/stolen or seized by law enforcement, or so that any future firearm-related offenses may be less serious. Significantly, this report is not available to those who are required by law to report their ownership or acquisition of a firearm, or to those who are exempt from the requirement of conducting a transfer through a licensed firearms dealer. See Cal. Penal Code § 28000.
The Firearm Ownership Report should never be used in lieu of, or to circumvent, California’s requirements relating to firearm transactions, especially the requirement that most firearm transactions must be conducted through (and recorded by) a licensed firearm dealer. This form also cannot be used to register an unregistered “assault weapons” or “.50 BMG” rifles.