In 2019, California enacted broad legislation that will expand existing ghost gun regulations by requiring the sale of unfinished frames and receivers (defined as “firearm precursor parts”) used to assemble ghost guns, to be conducted through licensed dealers, ammunition vendors, or firearm precursor part vendors, pursuant to a background check and sale record, among other requirements. However, without further legislative action, many of these new requirements will not become fully effective until July 2025.1
In 2016, California also enacted another relevant law, placing several requirements on anyone who manufactures or assembles a firearm or otherwise possesses an unserialized firearm. This law, which became effective in 2018, requires that:
- A self-assembled firearm must be stamped with a unique serial number provided by the California Department of Justice (DOJ).2 If the firearm is made from plastic, the serial number must be engraved or affixed on a piece of metal large enough to be detected by metal detectors and embedded within the plastic.3
- The individual must provide information about the newly serialized firearm, including the identity of the owner of the firearm, to DOJ.4 Firearms manufactured or assembled pursuant to these provisions are for personal use only and generally cannot be sold or transferred.5
- Anyone in possession of an unserialized firearm must apply to the DOJ for a serial number and must serialize the firearm, or must otherwise relinquish the unserialized firearm to law enforcement.6
- The law also expressly prohibits individuals or companies from knowingly allowing, facilitating, aiding, or abetting the manufacture or assembly of a firearm by individuals prohibited from possessing a firearm under state law.7
- In addition, self-assembled firearms must be compliant with the requirements of California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, which requires that handguns incorporate certain consumer and public safety features. See our Design Safety Standards in California policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of the Unsafe Handguns Act.
For more information about undetectable and untraceable firearms, see our Ghost Guns policy page.