Airgun (bb and pellet) Laws in California


Airguns are a growing part of the shooting world. You may have reason to wonder what BB gun laws look like in California, and if they are legal in California.

We’ll talk about what those laws look like, but generally you can remember that BB guns are legal in California, but are more regulated than they are in most other states.

California law also refers to “BB devices.” BB devices are defined by California law to be really anything that moves a metallic projectile through the force of compressed air, so you can effectively replace the term “BB device” with airgun while reading the laws, and you will get the same result.

California BB Gun Laws

Much of this information comes courtesy of Giffords Law CenterOpens in a new tab., who have compiled a list of state laws relating to airguns.

Be advised: it is illegal to sell a BB device to a minor, and illegal to provide a minor with one without permission from their parent or legal guardian. These are considered misdemeanors under California law.

Be wary of bringing your airgun to school as well, as that is also illegal, forbidden under the same penal codeOpens in a new tab. keeping you from bringing knives, tasers, and stun guns to school. An exception will be made if you have written permission from the principal.

Wherever there is given reasonable notice that taking your BB device onto public transit or into governmental buildings is forbidden, it is well… forbidden. Keep your eyes peeled for those notices.

You may find it useful to know that brandishing an imiatation firearm (essentially any airgun that looks like a normal firearm) is illegal. Don’t bring it in public, and don’t look like you are threatening someone with it, unless you are trying to defend yourself. That is a bad idea.

Just on a safety level, do know that anything that looks the part of a firearm is bound to escalate any situation.

California also prohibits trade of imitation firearms for commercial purposes, but provides exception for BB devices.

Most of these laws are just intended to keep people safe, avoid accidents, and prevent escalation of encounters between people, so just remember to be safe and obey the law.

What About Cities in California?

These laws are STATE laws, not city laws. That means while these laws will apply across the entire state of California, some locales may be much more strict.

For example, in investigating different state laws you may notice that there are no laws preventing you from discharging BB guns and pellet guns inside of city limits, but you will almost always have city laws in place keeping you from doing so.

The city of Los Angeles also requires that BB gunsOpens in a new tab. be colored primarily bright orange or green, making it illegal to produce, sell, or give any BB gun that is not marked properly, unless you are intending if for trade outside of California.

So while you will need to know these laws while in California, you should also brush up on your city laws to avoid running into the law. If you can’t easily find the laws online, you can ask your local governmental office.

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