Inherited firearms in CA?


Guy B. Meredith
March 10, 2010, 03:53 AM
I've posted this on another forum, but the best answer I got was a link to the law which I have. Still not clear.

A friend's mother passed away recently and he is the executor. While going through her property (in Berkeley, CA no less) he found at least three handguns and a rifle.

What are the California laws regarding receiving INHERITED firearms?

Also, I carry my guns in the trunk of my car and locked in a box. The ammo is in another container. Is it necessary to have the gun in a locked container as long as it is in the trunk?

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March 10, 2010, 08:09 AM
Depends on who is inheriting the guns. Is he? And are they on record as part of the estate? (As her son, they could have been gifts at any time, if you get my drift, with no records, fees, or other nuisances required -- be aware that handguns not found in the CA registration database can result in enhanced criminal penalties for unpermitted carry, etc.) He can register the handguns if he wants. See DOJ link below. Also, before opening his mouth, he should determine how old the guns are and when she acquired them. Guns that are legal in California, but paperless, have intrinsic value IMO. Furthermore, transfers cost money, and I wouldn't give Sacramento one red cent that I didn't absolutely have to -- the same goes for gun dealers who make money from the anti-gun transfer laws that a majority of them support, since they are a cash cow.

Go to with any additional questions. They know their stuff.

You can throw an unloaded handgun in a pile of ammo in the trunk, and it's perfectly legal. Or, you can keep it in a locked gun rug on the passenger seat, with the ammo inside the same gun rug. There's never a legal reason to keep ammo in a separate container.

What you can't legally do is lock the handgun in the center console or glovebox, or have a gun loaded in a vehicle. A full magazine separate from, but next to, the gun is not "loaded" if the gun has no ammo in the chamber or anywhere else inside it.

A long gun can be carried, unloaded, in a vehicle without being locked up in any way. Some locales seem to have "brandishing" laws, so casing a rifle or shotgun if it's on the seat is probably a good idea.

Scroll down to see what CHP says about carrying a gun in a vehicle:

See the Summary Booklet and/or laws here:

Seriously, you need to get to know the details of these laws in California if you own guns and shoot there. Innocence is no excuse, in California...

March 10, 2010, 10:28 AM
As was discussed on the other forum, your friend simply fills out a registration form for the guns and sends it, with $19 for each gun, to the California DOJ and it's done. If you're not going to believe us anyway, stop wasting your time and ask a lawyer.

You were given the exact information you needed:

Page 37:
Sales, Loans, or Transfers of Firearms

It is unlawful for a person who is not a licensed firearms dealer pursuant to Penal Code section
12071, to sell, loan, or otherwise transfer a firearm to a non-licensed person unless the sale, loan,
or transfer is completed through a licensed firearms dealer. (Penal Code 12071, 12072, 12082.)


1) The dealer licensing and reporting requirements do not apply to the sale, lease, or
transfer of any firearm in the following instances (Penal Code 12078(u)):
• Firearms obtained by individuals through operation of law, such as:
- the executor or administrator of an estate;
- a trustee in a bankruptcy proceeding;
- an assignee for creditors;
- a receiver for an estate in receivership;
- a surviving spouse;
- a transfer of property between spouses.

NOTE: Concealable firearms obtained by any of the preceding means must be reported to the
Department of Justice on forms provided by the Department of Justice. (Penal Code 12078(i)(1).)

- a levying officer as defined in sections 481.140, 511.060, or 680.260 of the
Code of Civil Procedure;
- firearms received by the family of a police officer or deputy sheriff from a local agency pursuant
to section 50081 of the Government Code;
- the transfer of a firearm by a law enforcement agency to the person who found the firearm
where the delivery is to the finder pursuant to Article 1
(commencing with section 2080) of Chapter 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code;

• Firearms obtained through intestate succession or by bequest, sales or transfers
between “immediate family” members. Immediate family means parent and child,
and grandparent and grandchild. (NOTE: Individuals who receive a concealable
firearm in this manner must obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate. The acquisition of a handgun
in this manner must be reported within 30 days to the Department of Justice on forms
provided by the Department of Justice.)
(Penal Code 12078(i)(1)(B), 12078(c)(2)(A).)

March 10, 2010, 10:32 AM
If the rifle is chambered in .50 BMG, then no.

Guy B. Meredith
March 10, 2010, 11:28 AM

Not a matter of not believing, just a matter of wending my way through the verbiage and having some understanding of what I am reading. I completely missed the line about estates.

Thank you.

My friend is sole heir, the firearms belonged to his long deceased uncle. They include a High Standard .22, Browning .380 and Winchester .22 rifle (model 56??). J

Just did a quick check on the Winchester. Might be a good find.

March 10, 2010, 11:53 PM
Guy, why are you not asking first at Calguns? We kind of specialize in CA law there ....

You have most of it in prior posts; for inheritance and intrafamilial transfer, its the form ( and $19 for all the handguns transferred at that time. The 19/each applies to new resident registration.

March 11, 2010, 12:17 AM
Yep. My bad. It's actually this form:

and it is $19 for the lot of guns.

And I just repeated what Librarian so proficiently posted! My bad again!

Guy B. Meredith
March 11, 2010, 12:59 AM
Why am I not asking at Calguns first? Lack of sleep--barely functional when I made the queries.

Xerox shipped me back to Leesburg, VA for training. I detest TSA so could not get any sleep for imagining scenarios with TSA agents that would get me fired, red eye special to VA, day of class with night lab, second day of class and another red eye back home.

March 11, 2010, 10:10 AM
You have one of those things... what are they called now.... a job? :D

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