DOJ Launches Online Firearm Ownership Reporting System 

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) recently launched the California Reporting Information System (CRIS). CRIS is a web-based application that allows gun owners to report their firearm related transactions to the DOJ. The DOJ touts that this system is a step toward streamlining processes to save gun owners time by reporting firearm transactions online instead of mailing in written forms.

Of course, this new system will save the DOJ time in processing these forms and make it more convenient for gun owners to report firearm transactions. However, using this new system comes at a steep cost to the privacy of gun owners. In order to gain access to CRIS, gun owners are required to provide an awful lot of personal information to the DOJ. For example, gun owners are required to provide residential address, email address, and California driver’s license or California identification number just to register with the system.

But aside from these privacy issues, the DOJ has never had a good track record relating to the processing of forms. If you have had the unfortunate experience of having to fill out a form and send it through the mail to the DOJ, you know that there is a lot of frustration and delays associated with this process. Hopefully, the new system will reduce these delays. But given the DOJ’s prior record with internet services, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Currently, people can submit seven different reports through CRIS:

  1. Firearm Ownership Report;
  2. New Residential Report of Firearm Ownership;
  3. Collector In-State Acquisition of Curio or Relic Long Gun Report;
  4. Curio or Relic Firearm Report;
  5. Report of Operation of Law;
  6. Report of Intra-Familial Firearm Transaction; and
  7. Law Enforcement Gun Release Application.

Each of these reports, and what they are used for, is discussed in further detail below.

I. Firearm Ownership Report

The Firearm Ownership Report allows you to voluntarily report ownership of (i.e., register) a firearm with the DOJ. This form is most often used by firearm owners to register firearms they acquired years ago that are not currently registered to them. While registration is not required, some owners prefer registering their firearms for ease of retrieval in the happenstance that the firearms are lost/stolen or seized by law enforcement, or so that any future firearm-related offenses may be less serious. Significantly, this report is not available to those who are required by law to report their ownership or acquisition of a firearm, or to those who are exempt from the requirement of conducting a transfer through a licensed firearms dealer. See Cal. Penal Code § 28000.
The Firearm Ownership Report should never be used in lieu of, or to circumvent, California’s requirements relating to firearm transactions, especially the requirement that most firearm transactions must be conducted through (and recorded by) a licensed firearm dealer. This form also cannot be used to register an unregistered “assault weapons” or “.50 BMG” rifles.

II. New Resident Report of Firearm Ownership

A New Resident Report of Firearm Ownership must be submitted when someone moves into California with a firearm acquired from out of state. By law, this report must be submitted within sixty (60) days of bringing the firearm into California. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 17000, 27560.

III.Collector In-State Acquisition of Curio or Relic Long Gun Report

The Collector In-State Acquisition of Curio or Relic Long Gun Report allows a resident of California who has been issued a Collector of Curios or Relics Federal Firearms License (often referred to as a 03 FFL) and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE), to report their acquisition of curio or relic long guns from non-licensees without completing the firearm transfer through a licensed firearms dealer. This form must be submitted within thirty (30) days of taking possession of the long gun. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 27545, 27966.

IV. Curio or Relic Firearm Report  

By using the Curio or Relic Firearm Report a California resident who possesses a Collector of Curios and Relics Federal Firearms License (03 FFL) and valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) may acquire a curio or relic firearm while outside of California and can transport the firearm back into California. This form must be submitted within five (5) days of transporting the firearm into California. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 27585, 27565.

V. Report of Transfer by Operation of Law

The Report of Transfer by Operation of Law is available to people who want to take title or possession of a firearm by “operation of law” without going through a licensed firearms dealer. There are a number of ways a person may acquire a firearm by “operation of law.” These are discussed in California Penal Code section 16990, and include levying officers, receivers performing the functions of a receiver, trustees, assignees for the benefit of creditors, etc.

The most common use of this form is for spouses. Under California law spouses may give each other firearms, by a process called “transmutation.” Presumably, by using this form spouses can jointly register firearms in the names of both spouses. This form must be submitted within thirty (30) days of taking possession of the firearm. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 27545, 27920.

VI. Report of Intra-Familial Firearm Transaction

The Report of Intra-Familial Firearm Transaction is used by family members if, both reside in California, who would like to claim title or possession of a firearm by gift, bequest, and intestate succession or by any other means from an immediate family member. An “immediate family member” is defined in California Penal Code section 16720 for purposes of this exemption as a parent, grandparent, child or grandchild. This form must be submitted within thirty (30) days of the transfer. The receiving family member must have a valid Firearm Safety Certificate, or, in the case of a handgun, a valid unexpired Handgun Safety Certificate. See Cal. Penal Code § 27875.

VII. Law Enforcement Gun Release Application

This is the application you have to submit in order to recover any firearm that is in the custody of a court or law enforcement agency. Once you submit your application, the DOJ will make a determination as to whether you are eligible to possess the firearm. See Cal. Penal Code § 33850.

Want to Know More? 

For further information and explanations of these processes and forms see C.D. Michel’s book, California Gun Laws: A Guide to State and Federal Firearm Regulations (3rd Ed. 2015), available here.

15 responses to “DOJ Launches Online Firearm Ownership Reporting System 

  1. The back door to gun registration which will facilitate confiscation at a later date. How handy for oppressive government.

  2. Just wanted to say I experienced pretty much the same issue with Sacramento Police Dept. telling me I could get my guns back right away! If right away means jumping through hoops, as you noted already plus having to register your guns with the DOJ before they will return them – after they decide if you are worthy. Then they screwed up the numbers on the forms and it went back and forth for an extra week and a half.

  3. I am one breath away from leaving this damn state and moving to Arizona….I am really sick of these fools in Sacramento….

  4. Pete: Yes, they think most folks are that stupid. Lets face it most people in CA are sheep and will do whatever the wolves tell them. I read that when they did the confiscations in Australia they only got about 19 million out of an estimated 30 million guns in the hands of the people. I think it would be a much higher % here and a back lash they won’t believe.

  5. The personal information they’re asking for is nothing new. I have a CC&R License and purchased a handgun in Nevada in 2015. I submitted the required form to DMJ within 5 days of returning to CA and that form required the same personal information required to use this new system. I might also note that I received a letter from the DOJ 6 months later stating they had processed my form.

  6. I agree with Butch — a heartbeat away from leaving California for Arizona or another state that actually can read the Bill of Rights and isn’t filled with a bunch of stupid bleeding heart liberals who are more socialists than true Americans.

  7. The inheirent individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
    As Nancy Regan put it, “Just say NO”.

  8. Isn’t the fundamental reason for gun control is to keep criminals from committing gun related crimes? The thought of restricting guns rights of law abiding citizens to prevent criminals from committing gun violence crimes is like changing the tires on your car when you have a dead battery. Simply asinine. Our law makers are idiot morons!!

  9. Our socialist state government can’t punish criminals so why not punish the folks who obey the laws of this state? TRY PUNISHING CRIMINALS!!!!

  10. Only in Kalifornia do they legalize pot, demonize and restrict firearm and ammunition availability to their citizens, and the elderly and poor are left in the cold. Would have been an easier read to simply say “no gun or ammo sales to poor people, you do not have enough money to be relevant”, so no need to preserve your safety. The cherry on the cake is the early parole of thousands of “non-violent” state convicts into the community. Remember, there’s a difference between what someone is charged with and what they plead to. This was a very dangerous move. It shows to naivety and simple mindedness that criminals love in their victims.

  11. I can only hope that the Supreme Court with at least one (or tw0) Trumo appointees will overturn most of the clearly unconstitutional CA gun laws!

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