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Thread: Trying to purchase a handgun in California. Does it really cost this much?

  1. #1
    johnstac is offline Junior Member
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    Trying to purchase a handgun in California. Does it really cost this much?

    I had recently read that transferring a gun through gunbroker or the like was as simple as using an FFL in my state. I contacted a local gun shop today and inquired about this. I had read that it would cost around $20 for the receiver to accept the gun and handle the transaction. Was this incorrect. He laughed and told me I was looking at $95 and then I would also be responsible for the sales tax of any weapon he receives. I'm just trying to understand that if I bought a gun from a vendor and paid the cost of the gun and sales tax once already, why would I have to pay it again on the other end?

    I am just trying to get educated here before I proceed. I'm looking at purchasing two weapons. A Sig P229 and an AR15.

  2. #2
    DJ Niner's Avatar
    DJ Niner is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    California and its laws are an exception to almost any rule having to do with firearms. Don't take the word of anyone who lives in another state (including me) about how things work in CA; it's a full-time job just to keep up with their bureaucratic idiocy.

    As I understand it currently, because all transactions (even private in-state sales) MUST go through a licensed dealer (FFL, or Federal Firearms Licensee) in CA, they have a state-enforced monopoly, and they take full advantage of it. You MIGHT be able to find a dealer that will do a transfer for less if you shop around, but I'm going to guess it won't be for significantly less money. Part of the CA transfer fee is dedicated to a background check, I believe, so that part is not able to be reduced by any dealer, and because they know you don't have a choice but to pay the fee, they have no real incentive to reduce it, as that would just directly cut into their profits.

    Even in my rural state, transfer fees can vary wildly. In my town, the large sporting-goods stores charge $75 or more for a simple transfer (and here, there is no fee for a background check; all of it goes right into their pocket). Smaller FFLs in the surrounding rural county or nearby small towns, or the pawn shops right here IN town, charge $20-$25. Considering the small amount of actual work required to do a transfer, I can only conclude that transfer prices are deliberately set high to discourage transfers at the big stores. Many shops also state they will only accept inbound transfers from a FFL dealer or distributor; although federal law says they CAN accept transfers directly from out-of-state residents, many shops will not, because they have to be able to positively identify the seller in their transfer book, and it's difficult to do that long-distance (photocopies of Driver's Licenses can easily be faked or "borrowed", and this technique can be used to mask the seller and transfer of a stolen gun). FFL licenses can be verified electronically, but personal IDs like state DLs can't be linked to a face/body unless they are standing right in front of you, in most cases. If the store that ends up with the inbound gun puts a fake name in their books, or accepts a stolen gun for a transfer, they can be "dinged" by the BATFE during a routine inspection, or if the discrepancy turns-up during the investigation of the stolen gun. Too many "dings" and the store can lose its license, or the owner could get fined or go to jail. So to reduce their potential liability, they tell folks they will only accept inbound transfers from other FFL dealers.
    "Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
    (RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)

  3. #3
    Cait43's Avatar
    Cait43 is offline Member
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    Here is a link to a listing of FFL license holders in California... Most, if not all, will handle a weapons transfer for a fee... You might want to contact them to see what their fees are..
    Normally there should be no sales tax involved unless California charges a sales tax on the background checks..... Anyway, talk to some of these FFL holders, they should be able to set you straight.......
    California - FFL dealers & shops - FFL gun dealers directory

  4. #4
    johnstac is offline Junior Member
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    I contacted a second FFL that confirmed to me that sales tax is collected on any gun regardless of whether it is new or used! What a racket! I don't blame the FFL. It's the state that is mandating the collection of taxes. I also learned tonight that in order for me to purchase a handgun in the sunshine state, I will also be required to present an HSC. I have to find a testing site and pay them $25 for the privilege of taking a test in order to obtain my handgun safety certificate. Nevermind the 2nd amendment, I will have to do this every 5 years in California. I was shocked at some of the stuff I learned tonight. Much different then the State of Washington. I can only purchase one gun every 30 days. Perhaps for fear I will start my own militia in a month. I have to submit to the background check which is actually a good thing but I don't remember having to pay for it in my home state. I think the only thing I had to pay for was my conceal carry permit. I asked about that and they literally laughed. I guess a concealed weapons permit does not happen in California. Unless there is "cause". But not "cause" I want to. I guess you have to be interviewed by an official and explain why you need a permit. I was just floored. I won't even get into what they told me about the handguns I already own and what I'm supposed to do with those. .....sigh......

    Well, it appears that it makes more sense to just purchase the gun at the store because by the time I pay the fees, etc I will likely not have saved anything anyway. I saw a bumper sticker yesterday and I think it sums up California. It read, "Welcome to California, now go home!"

  5. #5
    SouthernBoy's Avatar
    SouthernBoy is offline Senior Member
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    So why on earth did you decide to move to California?

  6. #6
    denner's Avatar
    denner is online now Senior Member
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    California's Democratic politicians wish to totally disarm the citizens of the state of California and leave firearms only in the hands of government. They(meaning government) don't trust it's citizens or ones wishing to become citizens. Restrictions, taxes, fee's, approved list, untested technology(micro stamping) laws, surrendering firearms at the borders for registration and more fee's, background checks for citizens who already legally own the firearm and more fee's, 5 year re-certification fee's, HSC fee's, may issue only ccw in most jurisdictions..........and the beat goes on....... Is there any I've missed?

  7. #7
    bigjohn56 is offline Junior Member
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    IMO, Gun stores are not a great place to do a transfer as that is not what they want to do. They would love to SELL you a handgun but not transfer someone else's sale. There is just not enough $$ in it for them, thus they charge more for it. I pay $50 for a transfer, shipping, plus the CA sales tax on any gun bought from gunbroker.comm from a local FFL dealer (not a gun store) here in Orange County. They do not make a lot of $$ on the transfer but they can make it up on volume and the hopes you will purchase a firearm from them.

  8. #8
    hud35500's Avatar
    hud35500 is offline Member
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    Most dealers will charge a fee to do a transfer. Some are reasonable, some are not. Try doing business with a small, independent dealer, they usually charge less. I have a small dealer in my area who doesn't charge me a fee for a transfer. I use him almost exclusively for any purchase. While he may not have tons of firearms in stock or on display, he can get anything I'm looking for, usually at a discount. Generally, the larger the gun shop, the more they will charge for a transfer. I too am in California. Look around, the small guys are still out there.
    BTW, I'm familiar with Murrieta, what shop are you referring to?

  9. #9
    desertman is online now Member
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    Arizona's not too far away. Why not move here?
    denner likes this.

  10. #10
    Kennydale's Avatar
    Kennydale is offline Junior Member
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    Dude! Time to leave COMMIEFORNIA !!!!

  11. #11
    paratrooper is online now Senior Member
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    California is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't wanna live there.

    Well, maybe cept for N. CA.

  12. #12
    desertman is online now Member
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    paratroper:
    California is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't wanna live there.
    I won't even set foot in that place. We went out to Ehrenberg, AZ on I 10 once, and I was tempted to stand next to the California State Line sign on the bridge while openly carrying two handguns while remaining on the Arizona side and have my wife take my picture. I would then add a caption "One more step a felon" or "one side freedom, one side oppression". I never did follow through.
    denner likes this.

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