Handgun safety is important to all Californians. No one wants handgun accidents to happen yet they do everyday. Handgun accidents involving children are especially disturbing. Studies show that easy access to loaded handguns in homes is a major cause of accidental shootings of children. While there may be no way to guarantee safety, handgun owners can take steps to help prevent many accidental shootings. This study guide will give you valuable information to help you become a safe and responsible handgun owner.The intent of the California Legislature in enacting the Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC) law is to ensure that persons who obtain handguns have a basic familiarity with those firearms, including but not limited to, the safe handling and storage of those firearms. It is not the intent of the Legislature to require an HSC for the mere possession of a firearm. [Pen Code (PC) section 12800].
Handgun safety is the law in California. Every handgun owner should understand and follow handgun safety practices, have a basic familiarity with the operation and handling of a handgun, and be fully aware of the responsibility of handgun ownership. Pursuant to Penal Code section 26840, subdivision (b), any person who acquires a handgun must have a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC), unless they are exempt from the HSC requirement. In order to obtain an HSC, a person must pass a Department of Justice (DOJ) written test on handgun safety. The test is administered by DOJ Certified Instructors.
To obtain an HSC, you must take the DOJ written test and receive a passing score of at least 75%.
An HSC is valid for five years from the date of issuance. If your HSC is lost, stolen or destroyed, a replacement may be obtained from the DOJ Certified Instructor who issued your original HSC.
- Pursuant to Penal Code section 12807, there are exemptions from the HSC requirement based on specific categories of persons. Some of the exempt categories are:
- Federal Firearms License Collectors with a Certificate of
Eligibility (for Curio and Relic transactions only)
- Active, active reserve, or honorably retired military
- Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit holders
- Persons who have completed Peace Officers Standards and
Training (POST) [Pen. Code, (PC) 832] firearms training.
Prior to taking delivery of a handgun, you must successfully perform a safe handling demonstration with the handgun being purchased or acquired. The safe handling demonstration must be performed in the presence of a DOJ Certified Instructor on or after the date the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) is submitted to the DOJ and before the handgun is delivered.
Becoming a safe handgun owner is similar to becoming a safe driver—you combine a good working knowledge of the equipment, the basic skills of operation, and a mind set dedicated to safe and responsible usage and storage.
- This means you must have the following:
- Respect for the danger of handguns.
- An awareness and concern about the possible safety hazards related to handguns.
- A desire to learn and practice safe conduct with handguns.
Developing a mind set for safe and responsible handgun usage and storage is the first step in actually becoming a responsible handgun owner. The next step is building your knowledge of handguns and gun safety, which you will learn by taking a Handgun Safety Certification class. The final steps are becoming skillful in handling handguns and using the safety knowledge that you have acquired.