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View Full Version : Inheriting Firearms... General CA Law


4VVonder
11-11-2008, 10:59 AM
Hello Everyone,
First off, I am a newer gun owner under the age of 30. I am a california resident. I have a shotgun and a pistol both registered in my name.

Recently my great uncle just passed away. His wife (my step-great aunt is still alive) and the gun collection has been legally willed to me. However, still being stored in Wyoming (where they live).

There are quite a few guns. None of which are automatics, but some fall under the CA Assault weapon act. AR-15s, Semi-Auto AK, etc.. Is there anyway I can bring them into this state? Can I apply for some special permit? If they were acquired by him before the act passed are they pre-ban or does it not matter since they were never in CA?

Any advice on the matter would be much appreciated. Including lawyer contact info.

Thanks!

Fire in the Hole
11-11-2008, 11:33 AM
The first thing I would do if I were you, would be to go to a gun store, not a sporting goods store that carries guns, and buy the book "How to Own a Gun in California and Stay out of Jail" All the answers to your questions can be found in there, plus lots more.

Backcountry
11-11-2008, 11:48 AM
I have a shotgun and a pistol both registered in my name.
No you don't. Long guns are not registered in California unless classified as assault weapons.

4VVonder
11-11-2008, 11:51 AM
fire in the hole... thank you very much. The more i research, the more it looks as if the guns will be staying in Wyoming.

I'm heading to my local gun store to pick up a copy right now. Thanks Again...

4VVonder
11-11-2008, 11:53 AM
maybe i misunderstood, both shotgun and pistol were gifted. I signed a bunch of stuff from a trusted person and didn't read much. Maybe I only registered the pistol.

I believe i signed something that documented the shotgun was mine incase it was stolen... maybe I was mistaken. As stated above I am newer... really new to the firearm scene. Definitely going to buy the book FireInTheHole recommended to start educating myself.

redcliff
11-11-2008, 12:20 PM
No you don't. Long guns are not registered in California unless classified as assault weapons.

Long guns are registerred via the 4473. They however are not registerred via the serial number with CA DOJ, and the DOJ can not run your information and obtain a list of long guns unless they're registerred AW's. If you don't feel a 4473 is registration, than look up the definition of "registration".

If the long gun was found at a crime scene or confiscated it may or may not be able to be traced to you as the purchaser depending upon its past history and chain of posession. A new long gun can definitely be traced to you via Manufacturer's, Distributors and FFL's records.

Librarian
11-11-2008, 3:24 PM
Hello Everyone,
First off, I am a newer gun owner under the age of 30. I am a california resident. I have a shotgun and a pistol both registered in my name.

Recently my great uncle just passed away. His wife (my step-great aunt is still alive) and the gun collection has been legally willed to me. However, still being stored in Wyoming (where they live).

There are quite a few guns. None of which are automatics, but some fall under the CA Assault weapon act. AR-15s, Semi-Auto AK, etc.. Is there anyway I can bring them into this state? Can I apply for some special permit? If they were acquired by him before the act passed are they pre-ban or does it not matter since they were never in CA?

Any advice on the matter would be much appreciated. Including lawyer contact info.

Thanks!
I think you've already hit the hard part - California 'assault weapons' cannot be brought into the state. If you found it interesting, it might be possible to reconfigure some of them into 'non-aw' condition, but only those which were not banned 'by name'. There is a lot of information here about "Off List Lowers (OLL)" if you would like to learn more.

Another slight complication. While Federal law would allow transfer of inherited guns from WY to CA without bothering with an FFL, California law allows that only for immediate family members - see link (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=124237). The problem is that 'great uncle' doesn't meet the legal definition of 'immediate family'.

fairfaxjim
11-11-2008, 6:10 PM
I think you've already hit the hard part - California 'assault weapons' cannot be brought into the state. If you found it interesting, it might be possible to reconfigure some of them into 'non-aw' condition, but only those which were not banned 'by name'. There is a lot of information here about "Off List Lowers (OLL)" if you would like to learn more.

Another slight complication. While Federal law would allow transfer of inherited guns from WY to CA without bothering with an FFL, California law allows that only for immediate family members - see link (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=124237). The problem is that 'great uncle' doesn't meet the legal definition of 'immediate family'.

Two separate and distinct issues -
1. How the get the collection legally into CA and in your possession.
2. How to determine if any of the firearms are prohibited by CA law.

I would get an accurate and complete list of exactly what you have in WY. Using that and at least a knowledgable CA FFL, (you may have to do some looking to find one) you can see what is involved and how much they will charge to do it.

If I understand the fed. law correctly, the executor can transfer the guns to a CA FFL, and then they will have to DROS them to you be comply with the CA law. An issue may be how much they will charge to receive them. Another issue will be if it is an FFL transfer to you, handguns not on the CA Safe Handgun Roster may not be allowed.

Mssr. Eleganté
11-12-2008, 12:58 AM
Another slight complication. While Federal law would allow transfer of inherited guns from WY to CA without bothering with an FFL, California law allows that only for immediate family members - see link (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=124237). The problem is that 'great uncle' doesn't meet the legal definition of 'immediate family'.

I am now of the opinion that you don't need to worry about California's "immediate family" restriction on inheritence if you physically go out of state to pick up the guns that are bequested to you. Bequests from the estate of a "family" member can be shipped into California or picked up in person. But bequests from the estate of anybody else would need to be picked up in person to avoid the California restriction.

Here is my reasoning on this...

We are all used to the restrictions on buying guns while out of state. Federal law requires that purchases from FFL's while out of state comply with the purchase rules for both States. We are only subject to California's gun purchase laws while out of state because Federal law mandates FFL's to follow both sets of laws and not because California's laws restrict our out of state behavior all on their own. We don't have to follow any other California laws while out of state. We only have to follow the California laws that Federal law says we have to follow while out of state.

And Federal laws on out of state inheritence are more lax than they are on out of state purchases. To purchase a gun at an out of state FFL, "the sale, delivery, and receipt" must "fully comply with the legal conditions of sale in both such States." That's why unlicensed Californians can't buy modern guns at out of state FFL's. There is no way for the FFL to fully comply with California's DROS requirements.

But to acquire a gun via inheritence, Federal law only requires that it be "lawful for such person to purchase or possess such firearm" and "acquire or possess a firearm" in their home State. There is no Federal requirement to follow all of the legal conditions of sale in your home State like there is with out of state FFL transfers. To acquire a gun via inheritence while out of state you only need to be able to purchase or possess or acquire that firearm in California.

This theory might also work for inherited firearms shipped into California but it depends on the definition of "Operation of Law" in California. Inheritence from a non-family member isn't listed as one of the things considered an "operation of law" in the Penal Code, but the definition also says that an operation of law "is not limited to" the examples listed in the Penal Code.

If inheritence from a non-family member can be considered an "operation of law", then firearms inherited from out of state friends or uncles could be shipped right to your door. Any handguns would have to be registered via the Op-law form.

If inheritence from a non-family member can not be considered an "operation of law", then you could still go out of state to pick up firearms inherited from friends or uncles. It also looks like any handguns acquired this way would legally not need to be registered after bringing them back to California.

Librarian
11-12-2008, 1:19 AM
I am now of the opinion that you don't need to worry about California's "immediate family" restriction on inheritence if you physically go out of state to pick up the guns that are bequested to you.

That makes perfect sense, which is probably why California is not following that.

As a practical matter, there's no Federal crime, for sure, taking possession of your inheritance in WY if you live in CA.

And if one were to do that, it's unlikely that anyone would ever know or care (except that it's being openly discussed here!); even CA isn't all that worried about non-aw long guns, and there are no inspection stations at the borders, and long guns are not registered.

California ought to just adopt the Federal behavior and unscramble this.

Mssr. Eleganté
11-12-2008, 1:25 AM
That makes perfect sense, which is probably why California is not following that.

As a practical matter, there's no Federal crime, for sure, taking possession of your inheritance in WY if you live in CA.

But I don't think there is a California crime either since the acquisition takes place outside of California. We don't follow California traffic rules in other States. We buy stan-cap magazines in other States. California gun laws don't follow us in other States unless the Feds say they do. And California has no restrictions on bringing lawfully owned California-legal firearms back to California with us. I'm not saying we can "get away with" this because California won't know what we are doing. I'm saying it is perfectly legal to do and we don't need to hide it from California.

JDay
11-12-2008, 2:18 AM
It also looks like any handguns acquired this way would legally not need to be registered after bringing them back to California.

From the Attorney Generals website:

How do I know if my firearms need to be registered?
There is no firearm registration requirement in California except for assault weapon owners and personal handgun importers. However, you may submit a Firearm Ownership Record to the DOJ for any firearm you own. Having a Firearm Ownership Record on file with the DOJ may help in the return of your firearm if it is lost or stolen. With very few and specific exceptions, all firearm transactions must be conducted through a firearms dealer.

So he would need to register the handguns.

Mssr. Eleganté
11-12-2008, 10:18 AM
From the Attorney Generals website:

How do I know if my firearms need to be registered?
There is no firearm registration requirement in California except for assault weapon owners and personal handgun importers. However, you may submit a Firearm Ownership Record to the DOJ for any firearm you own. Having a Firearm Ownership Record on file with the DOJ may help in the return of your firearm if it is lost or stolen. With very few and specific exceptions, all firearm transactions must be conducted through a firearms dealer.



So he would need to register the handguns.

He could only be considered a "personal handgun importer" if he moved to California on or after January 1, 1998. That does include a lot of people now, since it has been 10 years, so I should have included that exeption. Thanks.

Librarian
11-12-2008, 11:53 AM
We don't have to follow any other California laws while out of state. We only have to follow the California laws that Federal law says we have to follow while out of state.

I don't think this is quite true, (ETA or rather, things we do out of state can trigger CA law once we return to CA) and California's laws on guns are weirder than other parts because for things like CA 'aws' and large-capacity magazines the prohibited behavior is bringing things into the state.

For example, Vehicle Code requires that a CA resident registers his car in CA, even if it is purchased out of state; Revenue and Taxation Code requires that CA residents pay 'use tax', the equivalent of sales tax, on many things purchased out of state (not that they get it often).

So, while I can't demonstrate that the argument is wrong, I'm not so sure it's right, either. Too murky for me to be certain one way or the other.

Further ETA: for the vast majority of folks who do not spend hours reading the Penal Code, Amendment II and I are engaging in a little bit of a 'how many angels can stand on the head of a pin' discussion. He might be right; he certainly should be! I don't have the legal training to frame a convincing argument either way, and so far as I can tell there are no obvious court cases on the point to clear away the fog. I suppose that's why lawyers stay in business. :)

4VVonder
11-12-2008, 1:01 PM
thanks everyone. I am going to start off reading the book I was referred to. Cover to cover. Some of the guns contain sentimental value, so I would be hesitant to convert them.

Right now, the guns are going to be staying in WY. Until I can save up some $$ to buy a vacation home in around the Lake Tahoe area in NV. Can I legally store them there?