How to register a gun

June 5, 2021 update: On June 4, 2021, a federal judge overturned California’s ban on assault weapons on the grounds that it violates the constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. But assault weapons remain illegal in California while the state appeals the ruling.

You can register an unregistered gun in California by completing and submitting a Firearm Ownership Report (FOR) Application. This voluntarily declares that you are the owner of the firearm. However, this form cannot be used to register an assault weapon.

A FOR Application is not required for most firearms. They will have been registered by the dealer during the sale. However, there are reasons to register a firearm on your own. A registered gun that is lost or stolen may be returned to the person listed on the form. If the gun is unregistered, it will not be returned.

Submitting a FOR Application could also lead to legal trouble. You could be accused of possession of an assault weapon. The person who sold or gave you the weapon could also be charged with illegally transferring a firearm. The form can be used as evidence.

How to register a gun

What is the Firearm Ownership Report Application?

The Firearm Ownership Report (FOR) Application is a legal form. It goes to the California Department of Justice (DOJ). The form is also known as the BOF 4542A. By filling out and submitting the form, you voluntarily register a firearm. You are declared its legal owner.

To fill out the form, you need to provide information about yourself, including:

  • your personal and contact information,
  • where you were born,
  • citizenship status and identification information, including a copy of your driver’s license or ID card,
  • Handgun Safety Certificate number, and
  • any aliases you are known by.

You will also have to provide information about the firearm you are declaring:

  • whether it is a handgun or a long gun, and what type it is,
  • serial number,
  • make and model,
  • caliber,
  • origin,
  • barrel length,
  • color, and
  • when and how you acquired it.

There is space for declaring ownership of 3 firearms on each application form. If you want to declare ownership of more than 3, you can attach additional copies of the form.

You will have to pay a $19 processing fee for each FOR Application.

The form can be mailed to:

Department of Justice
Bureau of Firearms – FOR
P.O. Box 820200
Sacramento, CA 94203

This form cannot be used to register an assault weapon. Assault weapons generally cannot be registered in California anymore.

Do I have to file this application?

No, there is no legal requirement that a firearm has to be registered unless:

  • the firearm is an assault weapon, or
  • you are moving into California and own a firearm.

Handguns that were legally bought in California are already registered. They were registered by the dealer. You are the registered owner of these firearms. Your information was collected during the background check.

Long guns that were legally bought in 2014 or later in California are also registered. Those bought legally before then may not be.

Firearm owners moving to California have to register their firearms within 60 days. They use a different form – the New Resident Firearm Ownership Form.

What are the benefits?

Submitting a FOR Application makes you the official owner of the firearm.

If the firearm is lost or stolen, and then found, it will be returned to you. If the gun is not registered, there will be no official owner. It will not be returned to you if it is not registered.

How can I check to see if my firearms are registered?

You can request a list of firearms registered in your name. You can get it by submitting an Automated Firearms System Records Request Form.

The form has to be:

  • signed,
  • notarized, and
  • accompanied by a copy of your driver’s license or photo ID.

You can mail the form to:

Department of Justice
Bureau of Firearms
AFS Private Citizen Request
P.O. Box 820200
Sacramento, CA 94203

What about assault weapons?

Assault weapons cannot be registered in California, anymore.

State law set ownership and registration periods for assault weapons. This included Browning Machine Guns (BMG). All of those registration windows have passed. 1

Can I get in legal trouble for filing the form?

If you claim ownership of an assault weapon, or any illegal weapon for that matter, you could face charges of illegal possession of a firearm. Assault weapons are illegal to possess in California. Only those that were registered during the registration windows are exempt. If you fill out a FOR Application listing an assault weapon and send it to the DOJ, it can be used as evidence against you.

Illegal possession of an assault weapon is a wobbler in California. It can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor.

If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, a conviction carries up to:

  • 1 year in jail, and/or
  • $1,000 in fines. 2

If pursued as a felony, the potential jail time is 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years. 3

A FOR Application can also be used as evidence of the illegal sale of a firearm. California law requires that all gun sales be completed through a licensed dealer. 4 The FOR Application asks how you obtained the weapon. The answer may be used as evidence that you got the gun illegally. The person who sold or transferred the gun could be charged with a crime.

Illegally selling a firearm is a misdemeanor. The penalties can include up to:

How to register a gun

Everyone who owns a weapon should have it registered with the government, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A registered firearm confirms that the weapon is legally yours and has been obtained lawfully. But only in Canada, not the U.S., can you register a firearm online. Registration is the U.S. must be in written form, and in some states you must be physically present at a law enforcement agency to register a firearm.

If you’re a resident of Canada obtain a firearms possession and acquisition license (PAL). Otherwise, fill out a non-resident firearms declaration sheet. These forms and instructions are available at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website.

Verify your firearm with an approved verifier. The verification process lists the classification of the firearm. To get a firearm verified call this toll-free number: 1-800-731-4000.

Write down your firearms license number, weapon serial number, verifier’s name and identification number, the firearms RFT (Reference Table Number) given by the verifier, and the date the firearm was verified. You’ll need all of this information to register your weapon online.

Ensure that your browser meets the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) system requirements. The registration site is protected by 128-bit “strong” encryption and is best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.x or above, or Netscape NavigatorT version 4.77 or above but doesn’t support version 6.x.

Go to the secure registration website via the Royal Canadian Mounted Police site and fill out all required information and follow the instructions.

Warnings

Read the instructions carefully on the registration form. Your application may be denied or the process may be lengthened if information is filled out incorrectly.

How to register a gun

Everyone who owns a weapon should have it registered with the government, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A registered firearm confirms that the weapon is legally yours and has been obtained lawfully. But only in Canada, not the U.S., can you register a firearm online. Registration is the U.S. must be in written form, and in some states you must be physically present at a law enforcement agency to register a firearm.

If you’re a resident of Canada obtain a firearms possession and acquisition license (PAL). Otherwise, fill out a non-resident firearms declaration sheet. These forms and instructions are available at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website.

Verify your firearm with an approved verifier. The verification process lists the classification of the firearm. To get a firearm verified call this toll-free number: 1-800-731-4000.

Write down your firearms license number, weapon serial number, verifier’s name and identification number, the firearms RFT (Reference Table Number) given by the verifier, and the date the firearm was verified. You’ll need all of this information to register your weapon online.

Ensure that your browser meets the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) system requirements. The registration site is protected by 128-bit “strong” encryption and is best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.x or above, or Netscape NavigatorT version 4.77 or above but doesn’t support version 6.x.

Go to the secure registration website via the Royal Canadian Mounted Police site and fill out all required information and follow the instructions.

Warnings

Read the instructions carefully on the registration form. Your application may be denied or the process may be lengthened if information is filled out incorrectly.

Owning a gun is a right for many people, but that right often comes with rules and regulations. For instance, in some situations and locations, you must register the firearm after making a purchase so the federal, state, and local authorities have access to the information. Below, the firearms safety and training experts from Gun Safety Training Pros, your premier choice if you’re looking to take a high-quality gun safety class online , offer details on gun registration requirements and other pertinent regulations.

Registration for Handguns

In many states, such as Texas, there’s no firearm registry. When it pertains to the federal government, there’s also no firearm registry. Therefore, there’s no place to register your gun, whether you’re making a transfer or a purchase. However, when it comes to making a gun purchase in other states, this isn’t always the case. You may need to register the firearm. If you’re making a purchase or transfer between different states, it’s necessary to know the local laws and procedures before proceeding. Knowing the law is your responsibility, and you may incur legal consequences for breaking the rules.

Other Firearms

Traditional pistols and handguns don’t need to be registered, but these rules don’t always apply to other firearms, such as machine guns, shotguns, and short-barreled rifles. The federal government has an agency that monitors these purchases and registrations. This also includes silencers and other accessories. Although you can legally purchase many of these weapons, you must register them with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), as required by the National Firearms Act (NFA). If you have any questions, it would be best to speak with your state’s attorney general’s office for clarification.

Gun License

This isn’t the same as registration, so don’t ignore the rules. In some states, a gun permit is required to legally own a handgun. Some state legislatures are working on changing those requirements or have already passed new laws. In the meantime, it’s necessary to be of legal age and an actual resident of the state you want to obtain the permit in, and you must meet other standard stipulations, such as being mentally stable and having no convictions or current criminal issues. In these states, if you decide to purchase a gun without obtaining a license, it could lead to significant legal challenges. Therefore, it would be best to follow all the local jurisdiction’s requirements for purchasing and owning a gun, including registering the firearm and obtaining a permit.

Legal Issues

\Many states don’t allow convicted felons to own guns even after serving their entire sentences. Keep in mind that states cannot override federal restrictions. For example, Texas allows convicted felons to purchase and register firearms five years after being released from prison, probation, or parole. However, under federal law you may still be restricted. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, speak with an attorney who specializes in firearm law to find out if you can legally possess a firearm. These individuals can tell you about certain states, including what locations have exceptions for possessing a weapon after a felony conviction. Ignoring state regulations by purchasing a gun and failing to register it may be illegal. It could put you in more trouble and lead to significant consequences, such as additional jail time, job loss, expulsion from school, or fines.

How to register a gun

Do I Have to Register My Gun in PA?

If you believed everything you saw on TV and in the movies, you’d probably think every gun in the country is registered on a database that the feds or your state officials keep up to date. But, in reality, very few guns have to actually be “registered” in our country. That doesn’t mean the transfer of firearms and the required paperwork isn’t confusing though. In fact, it’s a topic most gun owners should brush up on.

What is Firearm Registration?

In order to comprehensively address the topic of firearms registration, I will make two distinctions. The ­ first distinction is between the categories of firearms: those that are subject to the National Firearms Act (“NFA Firearms” – the focus of this post) and those that are not (“non-NFA Firearms” – covered in a future article). (I am avoiding other often-used terms, like “Title I Firearms,” “Title II Firearms” or “Class III Firearms,” as they are inaccurate and misleading.) The second distinction I will make is between registering a ­firearm, on the one hand, and undergoing an ownership transfer background check, on the other.

What is considered a non-NFA Firearm?

“Non-NFA Firearms” are the most commonly owned guns, and this category includes handguns (revolvers and semi-automatic pistols) and long guns (rifles and shotguns). Only a handful of states require registration of these types of guns. In fact, most states either do not require any registration of non-NFA Firearms or, like here in Pennsylvania, have laws that affirmatively prohibit registration of firearms. Check with a local attorney if you are unsure as to whether your state requires gun registration.

The premise of such non-registration laws is that registration is a step down a slippery slope, leading to eventual confiscation. Conversely, the motivation behind background checks is to ensure that those who are “Prohibited Persons” (such as felons) are not allowed to own guns.

Background Checks for Firearms

However, even if you live in a non-registration jurisdiction, your state will most likely (though not always) still require the transferee (the recipient) of certain non-NFA Firearms to undergo a background check (as mentioned above, for the purpose of making sure a transferee is not a “Prohibited Person”). This is done at a Federal Firearms Licensee (“FFL,” i.e. a dealer) who runs a background check on the transferee through the NICS (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) database, though different states call the check by different names. This is always accompanied by the completion of an ATF Form 4473 (and some states require additional forms), which is the form that lists the various factors prohibiting gun ownership.

By way of illustration, all Pennsylvania handgun transfers must be subjected to a NICS check, with the completion of a Form 4473 by the transferee of the handgun. However, NICS checks (and therefore 4473s) are not required for long gun transfers in Pennsylvania. That means that a handgun that is owned in Pennsylvania but that was not properly transferred at an FFL (with a NICS check and Form 4473) is an illegal handgun, and its possession will subject the owner to criminal penalties. A long gun, however, as indicated above, can be transferred in Pennsylvania without an FFL-completed NICS check and Form 4473, and therefore you can transfer ownership of a long gun in Pennsylvania with just a handshake. (It is, however, strongly recommended that a Bill of Sale always be completed for such transfers).

How to Register a Firearm in Certain States

As distinguished from a NICS background check with the completion of ATF Form 4473, the registration of a non-NFA Firearm in a state that requires it will likely involve bringing the unloaded firearm to the appropriate police station for the purpose of alerting the municipality of its presence. This is typically done almost immediately after the ownership transfer and NICS background check. Check with a local attorney on the speci­fic procedure in your state.

Background Checks as a Back-Door Registration System?

It has been claimed, and rightly so, that many states’ background check procedures in fact constitute “back-door” registrations, since the final result is the same: The government knows who has what guns. Pennsylvania is a good example of this. Even though we have a statute on the books that specifically outlaws any ­firearms registration, a dealer-facilitated background check must accompany all handgun transfers, and the form that the transferee ­fills out is then kept by the Pennsylvania State Police.

However, the storage of ­firearms purchaser information, while currently an unfortunate feature of many states’ ­firearms transfer procedure, is not a necessary feature of a background check per se. In other words (and here I describe not what the law is but what it could be if citizens were willing to act to change the laws), it would be entirely reasonable for a dealer to conduct a background check on a transferee by simply calling the state police and getting a thumbs up or thumbs down on the transferee without generating unnecessary paperwork for storage purposes. The state police could limit its record keeping to the fact that a background check was done on a specific ­firearm from a speci­fic dealer, without any reference to the identity of the transferee. Only the dealer would maintain a photocopy of the transferee’s driver’s license, which he would only be mandated to provide to law enforcement if a warrant was issued for its provision in the case that a crime had been committed with the ­firearm in question.

Such a process would prevent a background check from becoming a backdoor registration but would also address legitimate law enforcement needs. Since this is not the case at present, the only ­firearms owners who are currently not subject to any kind of back-door registration are those who have purchased their ­firearms from private, non-licensed individuals in one of the states permitting such transfers to occur without a dealer or background check.

[A version of this article was originally published by Josh Bodene in Concealed Carry Magazine, October 2015 (pages 84-88). Image credit: Concealed Carry Magazine.]

A: Most guns that are used for hunting are not assault weapons and are not affected by this law. Typical shotguns and hunting rifles are exempt as the law specifies military style assault weapons by design characteristics. For example, any pump, lever, or bolt action rifle or shotgun cannot be an assault weapon.

Q: Is a handgun an assault weapon?

A: Most handguns are not assault weapons and are not affected by this law. A traditionally designed handgun is not an assault weapon. For example a single shot pistol or a revolver cannot be an assault weapon.

Q: How do I find out if the gun I own is an assault weapon?

A: Most guns are not assault weapons and are not affected by this law. There are different military characteristics of guns that determine whether they qualify as assault weapons.

To help you know whether or not your gun is affected by this law, please see gun types below:

  • PISTOLS
Q: If I own an assault weapon, do I have to give it up?

A: No. If you have an assault weapon, you can register it with the State Police. Under state and federal law, some people are not allowed to possess a weapon, such as convicted felons, individuals who have been involuntarily committed, or individuals currently under an order of protection. These people will not be able to register. There is no fee for registering.

Q: How does registering my assault weapon compare to getting a handgun license?

A: It is much simpler. To register, all you need to do is fill out the basic form. If you elect to register online, you do not need to appear in person or provide references or other information that is typically provided during the handgun licensing process.

Q: If I modify my gun by removing all design characteristics that makes it an assault weapon, do I still have to register it?

A: No. If you modify your gun so that it is not an assault weapon, you do NOT have to register it. The modification must be permanent however. This includes, for example, removing the bayonet lug by cutting or grinding, grinding off the threads on the barrel, removing the foregrip so that it cannot be readily reattached, or any change that cannot be reversed through reasonable means.

Q: If I don’t currently own an assault weapon, how does the new ban on assault weapons affect me?

A: The ban on selling assault weapons mainly affects dealers and manufacturers. Newly banned assault weapons may not be sold in New York and dealers and manufacturers will know what weapons can and cannot be sold.

How to register a gun

I'm a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment and I have been a gun rights advocate for a long time. When I was notified of my move to Guam, I was scared and confused by misinformation I found online about gun rights in Guam.

The process to register a gun is complicated and hard to find without talking to multiple people. I created this article to compile all the information I found in one place. Here are the steps to register a firearm bought on Guam, bought off island and transferred between two parties.

Important Notes

  • For all kinds of registration, once your firearm is inspected by the Guam Police Department Armory, DONOT bring your firearm into the Records & ID section. That is a government building and you will be arrested! Just bring the inspection sheet. Leave your firearm at home for the registration process.
  • If you are leaving Guam with a firearm, you must have a valid firearm ID and a registered weapon, otherwise you could be arrested for the same reason above.
  • Here are the restrictions on firearms that can be brought into Guam:

GUAM CODE: § 60102. Ownership, etc., of Certain Firearms Prohibited. The manufacture, possession, sale, barter, trade, gift, transfer or acquisition of any machine guns, sub-machine guns, automatic rifles or any other firearm not a rifle having a barrel length of sixteen (16) inches or greater or not a shotgun having a barrel length of eighteen (18) inches or greater or a revolver or pistol having a barrel length of more than twelve (12) inches is prohibited. Mufflers, silencers or devices for deadening the sound of discharged firearms are also prohibited. Any person violating this Section shall be guilty of a felony which shall be punishable for a term of imprisonment of not less than three (3) years and a fine of not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000). Imposition of sentence shall not be suspended and the offender shall not be eligible for parole nor work release until the term of imprisonment prescribed herein has been completed nor may probation be imposed in lieu of this portion of the offender's sentence. Provided, however, that in the case of an offender not previously convicted of a felony, the court may sentence the offender to not more than two (2) years imprisonment and the provisions of this Section prohibiting probation, suspension, parole or work release shall not be applicable to such offender.

This website is not meant to be legal counsel. We are not lawyers.

Q: How long is the waiting period to buy a Handgun / Shotgun / Rifle in Texas?
A: There is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm in the state of Texas.

Q: I just moved to Texas, do I have to register my firearms?
A: No, there is no state registration of firearms.

Q: I just inherited / bought a gun from someone in Texas, do I need to transfer the gun to my name?
A: No, there is no state registration of firearms, thus there is no requirement transfer the firearm in your name.

Q: What is required to purchase a firearm in the state of Texas?
A: You will need a valid state-issued ID. Many FFLs will not sell to out-of-state residents. This is due to the FFL’s requirement to uphold your resident state’s gun laws, and the inherent complexity associated with many states.

Q: Can I carry a firearm on my person?
A: Yes, with proper licensing (Concealed Handgun License) you may carry a pistol or revolver on your person. Long guns (rifles / shotguns) do not have to be concealed, but must be carried in a manner not calculated to cause alarm, and do not require a license.

Q: Can I strap a gun on my hip in Texas?
A: Yes you can, as of January 1 – 2016, folks can carry a handgun openly or concealed. However, you do have to be licensed. By Texas law, the gun must be carried using a “shoulder or belt holster.” Long arms still do not require a license.

Q: Can I carry a firearm in my vehicle?
A: Yes. With the passage of the Motorist Protection Act you may now readibly carry handguns, loaded and within reach, so long as you conceal the firearm. Long guns (rifles / shotguns) do not have to be concealed and may be loaded and within reach.

Q: Are machine guns / suppressors / short-barreled firearms, etc. legal in the state of Texas?
A: Yes. All NFA rules apply. See this FAQ for more info regarding Class III / Title II items.

Q: Are “assault weapons” banned in Texas?
A: No. Texas abides by Federal law which at this time has no restrictions on so-called “assault weapons” such as semi-auto AR15, FAL, G3 / HK91 rifles.

Q: Is there a limit on the number of rounds a magazine may hold?
A: No. The only limit on magazines in Texas is the number of rounds you are physically able to cram into the thing and/or carry and/or afford.