By Bob Walsh
BUYING A GUN
(This article was originally written in 2008 for an audience largely made up of Correctional Officers in California. I have tried to update it as much as I can but changes in the law and differences in the law in different states may make some or even much of it invalid where you live.)
Buying a gun isn’t as easy as it used to be. In California there is no longer any such thing as a legal, unrecorded firearms transfer. Even if someone outright gives you a gun the transfer has to be handled thru a licensed firearms dealer and the transfer recorded. You will have to pay whatever fee the DOJ charges, plus a fee to the firearms dealer for his trouble, plus go thru the mandatory 10 day waiting period.
As a peace officer with the proper I.D. you do not have to go thru the handgun safety test in order to get the HSC (handgun safety certificate) you would otherwise need to buy a handgun. Active duty military, retired military and valid CCW holders are also exempt from needing this certificate.
In California new hand guns have to be approved as being “safe” (technically they have to be approved as being not unsafe) to be offered for sale to the general public. Police agencies and individual police officers can still purchase guns not on the list. The manufacturer or importer has to provide three examples of the weapon for destructive testing, which also cost a couple of bucks. In addition each minor variation of the gun must be tested independently. If you offer the same weapon with both fixed sights and adjustable sights, both must be tested. If you offer the same weapon in a 2” and 4” barrel, both must be tested. If you offer the same weapon in both round butt and square butt, both must be tested. For this reason a lot of firearms are dropping off of the list (ratings are good for five years) and the manufacturers are not going to the trouble of getting them renewed.
In addition in the People’s Republic of California new center-fire semi-automatic pistols must now have micro-engraving which makes fired shell cases traceable to the individual pistol in question. Due to this fact many newer semi-autos are not available in California.
If you buy a gun from a place that has a range they will often let you shoot it during the ten day waiting period It is a good way for them to sell you targets and ammunition and a good way for you to break in your new gat.
Speaking of ammunition it is a good idea to shop around. Prices can vary tremendously. Loading your own is a bit of work but saves significant money and that way you get exactly what you want. I do, however, NOT recommend you actually carry handloads in your weapon. There are some serious potential legal pitfalls there.
In addition, starting this year (2018) in the People’s Republic of California ammunition can only be bought in a face-to-face transaction with a licensed ammunition dealer. Internet sales are prohibited as is purchasing ammunition out of state in person and bringing it back in with you.
Next Chapter; Choosing a holster.
Editors Note: All I can say is Wow. Just Wow. I've never had to wait 10 minutes to purchase and leave with a handgun in Texas. The background checks are instant. Academy is having a huge sale on ammo this week and they will deliver. I just put in my order for the new Mossberg MC1sc 9mm Centennial pistol. I'm trying to buy 2 of 1000 manufactured with sequential serial numbers. I hope those regulations never creep into Texas.