Nevada vs. California Gun Laws

This is a guest post by Katey Hart


While California and Nevada may be neighbors their gun laws are strikingly different.  You should exercise more caution if you are from Nevada going to California with your firearms because gun laws in California are generally stricter.  But, if you are from either state and heading to the other with your firearms you should do your due diligence and make sure you are complying with laws in the state you are traveling to.  There are several differences in purchasing firearms in both states. One being that unlike Nevada, California requires all transfers by a licensed dealer (including private sales processed through a licensed dealer) to include a firearm safety device or secure weapon storage device approved by the California Department of Justice.

Find more information of gun safety device requirements and approved secure storage and locking mechanisms here.


Both Nevada and California require background checks on all gun sales that are enforced by requiring all deals to be ultimately processed through a licensed dealer, which initiates the background check.  Nevada is a point of contact state where background checks are run through the Nevada Department of Public Safety. California just recently passed Proposition 63 in 2016, which made all background checks go through the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

While California has no explicit law requiring gun owner to obtain a license prior to purchasing a firearm it does require that licensed dealers must see a Firearm Safety Certificate or concealed weapons permit and, demonstrate safe handling of the firearm in front of a DOJ certified instructor before finalizing any firearm sale.  The Firearm Safety Certificate is obtained by passing a written test administered by the DOJ.  The certificate is then valid for 5 years.

In California there is:

  • A 10-day imposed waiting period to physically take ownership of the weapon.
  • A limit of 1 handgun purchase per month.
  • Permanent retention of firearm sales records.

Nevada has no such restrictions.

Concealed Carry

Both Nevada and California require concealed carry permits if individuals want to carry a handgun hidden on their person.  California is a may-issue state and as such local law enforcement has the discretion to deny anyone a concealed carry permit for any number of reasons.  California has an interesting provision however that allows a person to carry a concealed, loaded firearm on them without a concealed carry permit if that person has reasonable and logical belief that they are in grave danger due to circumstances involving restraining orders.  For more information of these unique circumstances see Cal. Penal Code 25505-25655.

Nevada is a shall-issue state which means it will be a lot easier to get a concealed permit here than in California.  Nevada concealed carry permit requirements are similar to California’s in that both require demonstration of safe handling skills in the form of safety training certificate.  Another difference to California is that Nevada’s concealed carry is valid for 5 years whereas California’s is only valid for 2 years.


The only restriction Nevada has in regards to weapons and ammunition is the sale or possession of metal-penetrating bullets that can be used in a handgun (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 202.273.1).   On the other hand California prohibits the sale and possession of most “assault weapons”, .50 caliber rifles and large capacity magazines.  For the list of current firearms deemed assault weapons see the website of California’s Attorney General.

Author Bio

Katey Hart is a Canadian writer who recently moved to the US. She is new to the gun debate, which is basically a non-starter in her home country, and is fascinated by all the vastly different gun laws in each state. While she does not have a lot of experience in the area, due to her recent move she hopes to clear up some misinformation and myths other newcomers may also have by comparing gun laws in from different states.

This article is part of a series comparing basic gun laws in different States.  Like all laws these are subject to change.  There may also be county and city laws not covered in this article that change your ability to carry, transport and otherwise possess your firearm.

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