April 1, 2024

Iniquity in the Golden State: Annual Registration of Firearms Proposed in California Senate

Article Contact: Barry Snell,

Why It Matters:  Legislation seeking to restrict the Second Amendment is often eventually used as a vector of attack for issues more directly pertaining to sportsmen and women, just as restrictions on hunting are often used as a vector of attack against Second Amendment rights. Our issues are fundamentally intertwined given that firearms of every kind are routinely used in hunting, and many sportsmen are also avid recreational shooters. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these issues as they arise so you can have a full understanding of what may likely happen in the future and how it impacts our sporting community, even if Second Amendment issues are not your primary interest.


  • Multiple anti-Second Amendment and anti-sportsmen bills have been filed in California this year.
  • One of the most pernicious was recently submitted by Senator Anthony Portantino, SB1160 – Annual Firearms Registration.
  • SB1160 would require California’s gun owners to register all of their firearms.
  • This registration would occur annually, and gun owners would have to pay a fee for each firearm.

Earlier this month, California Senator Anthony Portantino filed Senate Bill 1160 – Annual Firearms Registration. SB1160 would require exactly what its title says: registration of every firearm owned by Californians. This misguided and unnecessary legislation would impose additional burdensome requirements and costs on legal gun owners, while doing nothing to enhance public safety.

California’s hunters, recreational shooters, and other legal gun owners already face myriad strict firearms regulations that are rarely found in other states. Notable examples include background checks on ammunition purchases, limitations on how many guns someone may purchase each month, prohibitions on firearm and ammunition sales on state property, and arbitrary bans on common firearm models that are labeled unsafe or as so-called “assault weapons.” In addition, California’s gun owners incur significant firearm-related fees and costs, including the new 11% excise tax on the sale of all firearms and ammunition, beginning in California on July 1.

SB1160 would not only require California’s gun owners to register all their firearms every year, but they would also be required to pay an annual fee for each and every one.  Most hunters and gun owners own more than one firearm.  Many own dozens, acquired over the years through the tradition of family inheritance, by winning prizes at conservation fundraisers, or simply by purchasing them. Different types of hunting often require different types of firearms or calibers/gauges of firearms. The annual price tag could be onerous for people with even modest collections.

Worse still, the exact fee is not specified in the law, leaving it up to the California Department of Justice who will administer this program.  Given that it will require a great deal of resources to try to make this law work, it is reasonable to conclude that the fee will no doubt be significant. Plus, without the fee specified by law, nothing is stopping the department from continually increasing the fee at a whim, without oversight or public input.

SB1160 will also further disincentivize Californians from participating in hunting and recreational shooting sports.  The legislation will create new barriers to participation in the outdoors, and thereby reduce funding for wildlife conservation.  The majority of the funding for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife comes from the sales of hunting licenses, stamps, tags, and from federal Pittman-Robertson revenue, which is an 11% excise tax collected from the manufacturers of firearms and ammunition.  Therefore, the inevitable reduction in firearms ownership, sales, and demand from manufacturers caused by SB1160 will likely result in a negative impact on conservation efforts.

SB1160 is set for its first hearing in the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 2, 2024. CSF will be monitoring this closely and engaging in opposition whenever possible as it moves through the legislature, but if you live in California, please contact the senator that represents your district immediately, as well as the chair and senators on the Public Safety Committee, and urge them not to support SB1160 – Annual Registration of Firearms.

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