Minimum age for sales and transfers: California prohibits any person, corporation or firm from selling a handgun to anyone under age 21, and from selling, loaning, or transferring any firearm to a “minor.” This prohibition does not apply in certain scenarios, including the sale of a handgun that is an “antique firearm” to a person at least 18 years of age, and the transfer or loan of a long gun to a minor by the minor’s parent or legal guardian.1 The California Family Code defines the term “minor” to mean an individual who is under 18 years of age. 2

Minimum age for possession: California law prohibits minors from possessing a handgun.3 Exceptions to this prohibition include situations where a parent or legal guardian is present or has consented to the possession.4 In addition, minors may, with the consent of a parent or guardian, possess handguns when engaged in certain recreational sports, including, but not limited to, competitive shooting; agricultural, ranching, or hunting activities; and any motion picture, television, or video production, or entertainment or theatrical events, the nature of which involves the use of a firearm.5

There is no minimum age to possess rifles and shotguns in California.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

For age restrictions governing ammunition, see the Ammunition Regulation in California section.

For other provisions related to children and firearms, see the Child Access Prevention in California section.

  1. Cal. Penal Code § 27505. All other exceptions are laid out in this section. ⤴︎
  2. See Cal. Fam. Code § 6500 See also, Cal. Penal Code § 30300(a)(1), which states that ammunition may not be sold to any purchaser under age 18, and Cal. Penal Code § 31625(b), which states that a person must be at least age 18 to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate. ⤴︎
  3. Cal. Penal Code § 29610. ⤴︎
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 29615. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎