Growth Trends for Related Jobs

How to Become a Gun Dealer in California

careertrend article image
a gun image by timur1970 from

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides all citizens with the right to bear arms. However, guns are dangerous weapons, and people looking to buy or sell guns must follow state and federal laws that govern the sale of firearms. If you are considering becoming a gun dealer in the state of California, you must meet all state requirements for operating such a business.

Verify that you are eligible to work around firearms. For example, if you have a past history of mental illness, are currently taking prescription drugs for a mental condition, have been convicted of a felony or are not over the age of 21, you are ineligible to become a gun dealer in the state of California.

Obtain an FFL (Federal Firearms License). Various types of these license categories exist. Depending on your business aspirations (i.e., whether you want to sell just guns and ammo, or other items, such as explosives or armor-piercing rounds), you will need to apply for either a Type 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 FFL. Some FFLs allow an individual to sell "curio" or antique guns while other types of FFLs permit the sale of guns through a pawnbroker business model. Fees for an FFL begin at $150 as of 2017. For more information, visit the website of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Contact the California State Board of Equalization to secure a valid Seller's Permit, which is required by California state law.

Procure a certificate of eligibility (COE) issued by the California Department of Justice. You can apply for a COE by downloading an application form from the Department of Justice website.

Call or email your local/municipal government. Your town or city will need to issue you a local business license before you can begin selling. The license must be good for one year, signed by the issuer and contain the words "Valid for Retail Sales of Firearms." If your local government does not require this type of license, they must issue you a letter to that effect.

Review all of the paperwork you have obtained for accuracy. If everything appears to be in order, you can submit an Application for Centralized List to the Department of Justice. Your business must be registered on the Centralized List so that the federal and state governments can track you. Once you are on the list, you will be given an identification number and be open for business.


Confused about the process? Contact the state's Firearms Licensing and Permits Unit.

  • Confused about the process? Contact the state's Firearms Licensing and Permits Unit at 916-227-3694.

Tucker Cummings is a freelance writer based in New England. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of New Hampshire and is a member of the Association of Professional Business Writers. Cummings is also a food writer and curates the blog, Brave New Breakfast.