Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Maintaining Records of Gun Sales in California.’ Gun Sales. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 3 March
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]
Retention of Sales and Background Check Records in California
Record-keeping and reporting by dealers: California law requires most firearm transfers to be processed through a licensed firearms dealer…
Firearms dealers are required to report all Dealer Record of Sale ("DROS") transactions to the California Department of Justice ("DOJ") electronically. Subject to limited exceptions, licensed dealers are required to keep a record of electronic transfer of information to DOJ for each sale of a firearm, containing detailed information on the purchaser and the firearm being sold. Firearms dealers must include in the record of electronic transfer the date a firearm is delivered to the transferee. The dealer must require the purchaser to sign his or her name on the record. Dealers are also required to obtain the right thumbprint of a purchaser or transferee before completing any transaction.
Dealers are also required to maintain a firearms transaction record. This record must be made available to law enforcement during business hours.
Certain firearm transfers are exempt from the requirement that they be processed by a licensed firearms dealer. As a result, transferees receiving a firearm through some of these exceptions are required to report the receipt of the firearm to DOJ directly.
Registry of firearm transactions: Current California law requires the Attorney General to maintain a permanent registry of all information pertaining to the sale or transfer of handguns reported to DOJ. A law California enacted in 2011 extends this requirement to all firearms, effective January 1, 2014. DOJ may furnish information contained in the DOJ registry, generated by the DROS forms to, inter alia, prosecutors, district attorneys, city attorneys prosecuting civil actions, and law enforcement for use in the arrest and prosecution of criminals and in the recovery of lost, stolen, or found property.
Prohibition on long gun registries: A law that will expire on January 1, 2014 prohibits the Attorney General (and by extension DOJ) from maintaining certain registries for long guns. The Attorney General must not retain or compile any information regarding sales or transfers of firearms that are not handguns. For firearms that are not handguns, all copies of forms received by DOJ in electronic form prior to January 1, 2014 must be destroyed within five days of clearance by the Attorney General, unless the purchaser or transferor is ineligible to take possession of the firearm.
Under the law that will expire on January 1, 2014, a peace officer, the Attorney General, a DOJ employee designated by the Attorney General, or any authorized local law enforcement employee must not retain or compile any information from a firearms transaction record for a firearms other than a handgun, unless the retention or compilation is necessary for use in a criminal prosecution or proceeding to revoke a retail firearms dealer license…