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Frequently Asked Questions

Firearms Dealers

General FAQs

  1. What are California's licensing requirements for firearms dealers?
  2. How much is the annual Centralized List fee and when must it be paid?
  3. What is a California Firearms Dealer (CFD) number?
  4. Do I need to send copies of my dealer's Federal Firearms License and local firearms license(s) to DOJ?
  5. How is DROS information submitted?
  6. How do I get copies of the blank DROS worksheet?
  7. How can I correct or cancel a DROS submission?
  8. What identification is required to purchase a firearm?
  9. What happens if there is a problem with the purchaser's driver's license?
  10. What is the waiting period for a firearm purchase?
  11. Who is exempt from the waiting period?
  12. What are the firearm warning label and firearm safety device requirements?
  13. What documentation is acceptable proof of residency for handgun purchasers?
  14. What proof of residency are peace officers required to provide?
  15. What is the Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) requirement?
  16. What are the handgun safety testing requirements?
  17. Are there a maximum number of handguns that a person may purchase?
  18. What are the signature requirements for the DROS printouts?
  19. What fees do I charge a firearm purchaser?
  20. What fees can I charge for handling a Private Party Transfer (PPT)?
  21. What records of purchases must I maintain and for how long?
  22. Am I required to give a copy of the DROS information to the purchaser?
  23. How will I be notified regarding DROS denials and delays?
  24. Does a DROS background check expire?
  25. If a purchase transaction is delayed by DOJ, how does it affect the delivery within 30-days restriction?
  26. Am I required to provide customers with anything upon DOJ denial of a firearm transaction?
  27. How do I handle the paperwork when a purchaser returns a defective firearm?
  28. Can I require a prospective employee to obtain a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC) as a condition of employment?
  29. What is an employee Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?
  30. Is an employee Certificate of Eligibility (COE) required for every employee?
  31. If I require my employee to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), who is responsible for paying the $78 fee?
  32. What is required if I permanently close my firearms dealership?
  33. What does a Large-Capacity Magazine Permit allow me to do?

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  1. What are California's licensing requirements for firearms dealers?

    California firearms dealers must obtain and maintain the following:

    • A valid Seller's Permit issued by the State Board of Equalization,
    • A valid Certificate of Eligibility issued by DOJ,
    • Any regulatory business license, or licenses, required by local government,
    • A valid Federal Firearms License,
    • A local license granted by the duly constituted licensing authority, valid for one year from the date of issuance, and in one of the following forms:
      1. In the form prescribed by the Attorney General; or
      2. A regulatory or business license that states on its face, "Valid for Retail Sales of Firearms" and endorsed by the signature of the issuing authority; or
      3. A letter from the licensing authority stating the jurisdiction does not require any form of regulatory or business license or does not otherwise restrict or regulate the sale of firearms.
    • A listing on the DOJ Centralized List of Firearms Dealers.

    To apply to be put on the Centralized List of Firearms Dealers, complete and submit an Application for Centralized List of Firearms Dealers (BOF 4080) to DOJ. For more information on dealer licensing, please call (916) 227-2665.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 26700 and 26715)

  2. How much is the annual Centralized List fee and when must it be paid?

    The Centralized List annual renewal application and fee must be submitted to DOJ by January 31st of each year regardless of the date of initial placement on the Centralized List. The Centralized List portion of the annual fee is $20.00 per licensee at each dealership. There is also an annual inspection fee of $95.00 per dealership location. Dealerships located in jurisdictions that have a local firearms dealer inspection program are exempt from the $95.00 inspection fee. Upon request, a list of such jurisdictions is available from DOJ.

    (Pen. Code, § 26720)

  3. What is a California Firearms Dealer (CFD) number?

    The CFD number is a unique number assigned by DOJ to each fully licensed firearms dealer location in California pursuant to Penal Code section 26700. The CFD number serves as the dealer's identifier for submitting DROS information and for other business dealings with DOJ.

  4. Do I need to send copies of my dealer's Federal Firearms License and local firearms license(s) to DOJ?

    Yes. It is your ongoing responsibility to provide DOJ with current copies of all required licenses and copies of renewals within thirty days of a license expiration date. Any dealer who fails to provide copies of renewals will become inactive in the Centralized List and the DES.

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  6. How is DROS information submitted?

    Once listed on the Centralized List of Firearms Dealers, DOJ will forward you documentation on how to enroll and access the DROS Entry System (DES) using a computer, magnetic card swipe reader and printer. The dealer collects the DROS information and documentation from the purchaser and submits it to DOJ electronically via the DES. When the DROS is accepted, a unique DROS number is assigned to the transaction and the required 10-day waiting period begins.

    (Pen. Code, § 28205)

  7. How do I get copies of the blank DROS worksheet?

    Copies of the current DROS worksheet may be downloaded and printed from the DROS Entry System.

  8. How can I correct or cancel a DROS submission?

    Within 60 days of submission, a DROS may be corrected or cancelled via the DROS Entry System (DES). To correct or cancel a DROS after 60 days, a DROS Cancellation/Correction for Firearms form (BOF 958) must be submitted to DOJ as instructed on the form. The BOF 958 can be downloaded via DES from the "forms" link.

    Please note: Only one data field (e.g., make, serial #, and caliber) may be corrected. If more than one field requires a correction, the DROS must be canceled and a new DROS submitted. A DROS must also be cancelled if the firearm is not delivered within 30 days. All correspondence and documentation must be retained for three years for inspection purposes.

    (Pen. Code, § 28220, subd. (e))

  9. What identification is required to purchase a firearm?

    Clear evidence of identity and age is defined as a valid California driver license or a valid California identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Military identification is also acceptable if accompanied by permanent duty station orders indicating a posting in California, but the dealer must retain copies of both documents.

    Temporary driver licenses and temporary identification cards are not accepted forms of proof of identity and age.

    (Pen. Code, § 16400)

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  11. What happens if there is a problem with the purchaser's driver license?

    If DROS information conflicts with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver license files or if the license is suspended or invalid, DOJ will cancel the transaction and notify the firearms dealer. The purchaser should contact DMV to correct or update information in DMV's files. Once the DMV issue has been cleared, a new DROS may be initiated.

    (Pen. Code, § 26815, subd. (c))

  12. What is the waiting period for a firearm purchase?

    The waiting period for the purchase of a firearm is ten (10) 24-hour periods from the date and time the DROS is accepted by DOJ, and a unique DROS number is issued.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 26815, 27540)

  13. Who is exempt from the waiting period?

    As with any exemption, the dealer must maintain the documentation with the DROS paperwork. The most common exemptions to the 10-day waiting period include:

    • California law enforcement officers who have a letter signed by the head of the agency stating they are full time paid peace officers authorized to carry a firearm in the performance of their duties and authorizing the purchase. The dealer must retain the original letter and attach it to the DROS record.
    • Persons who have special weapons permits issued by DOJ. The dealer must retain a copy of the permit and attach it to the DROS record.
    • Persons who have a Curio & Relic Collector's license issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and who have a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) only when purchasing curio and relic firearms. The dealer must retain a copy of the Federal Firearms License, Collector's license and the COE.
    • Dealers transferring firearms (hand gun and/or long gun) to their personal inventory are required to complete the DROS process. The BATFE's acquisition/disposition log requirements still apply.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 26950, 26955, 26960, 26965, 26970, 27650, 27655, 27660, 27665, 27670)

  14. What are the firearm warning label and firearm safety device requirements?

    Each firearm sold by a firearms dealer must be accompanied by a child safety warning label. The DOJ has certified independent laboratories to test safety devices for compliance with the adopted standards. Any manufacturer of firearm safety devices who wants to have a particular device certified for sale in California must submit the device to a DOJ-certified testing laboratory. The DOJ-certified laboratory will test the device and forward the test results to DOJ. Subject to DOJ application and fee requirements, qualifying devices may be approved by DOJ for inclusion on the Roster of Firearm Safety Devices.

    For more information, please see the frequently asked questions for Firearm Safety Devices.

    (Pen. Code, § 23620, et seq.)

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  16. What documentation is acceptable proof of residency for handgun purchasers?
    1. Utility bill from within the past three months that bears on its face the individual's name and either of the following:
      1. The individual's current residential address as declared on the DROS form; or
      2. The individual's residential address as it appears on his or her California Driver License or California Identification Card, or change of address attachment thereto.

      "Utility bill" means a statement of charges for providing service to the individual's residence by either a physical connection (i.e., hard wired Internet, telephone connection or cable connection, or a water or gas pipeline connection) or a telemetric connection (i.e., satellite television or radio broadcast service) to a non-mobile, fixed antenna reception device.

    2. Residential lease that bears the individual's name and either of the following:
      1. The individual's current residential address as declared on the DROS form; or
      2. The individual's address as it appears on his or her California Driver License or California Identification Card, or change of address attachment thereto.
          "Residential lease" means either of the following:
        1. A signed and dated contract by which the individual (tenant) agrees to pay a specified monetary sum or provide other consideration for the right to occupy an abode for a specified period of time; or
        2. A signed and dated rental agreement by which the individual (tenant) agrees to pay a specified monetary sum or provide other consideration at fixed intervals for the right to occupy an abode.
    3. Property deed that bears the individual's name and either of the following:
      1. The individual's current residential address as declared on the DROS form; or
      2. The individual's address as it appears on his or her California Driver License or California Identification Card, or change of address attachment thereto.
          "Property deed" means either or the following:
        1. A valid deed of trust for the individual's property of current residence that identifies the individual as a grantee of the trust; or
        2. A valid Certificate of Title issued by a licensed title insurance company that identifies the individual as a title holder to his or her property of current residence.
    4. Current, government-issued license, permit, or registration, other than a California Driver License or California Identification Card, that has a specified expiration date or period of validity. The license, permit, or registration must bear the individual's name and either of the following:
      1. The individual's current residential address as declared on the DROS form; or
      2. The individual's address as it appears on his or her California Driver License, California Identification Card, or change of address attachment thereto.

      Examples of acceptable proof of residency:

      • Current DMV registrations.
      • Electricity, gas, cable bill with purchaser's name on it from within the last 3 months.
      • Signed, dated and notarized rental agreement/contract.

      Examples of documents that are NOT acceptable proof of residency:

      • Hunting or fishing license (these documents are not issued by the government).
      • Cellular phone bill.

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  18. What proof of residency are peace officers required to provide?

    Peace officers, including reserve and retired peace officers, may present valid credentials issued by a California law enforcement agency in lieu of the other required residency documentation. This consideration is given to peace officers who do not want to provide documentation of their residential address for security reasons and who otherwise do not object to having their credentials copied by the firearms dealer for inclusion with the DROS record. Peace officers may have the dealer associate remove his/her residential address from the DROS transaction and include his/her agency address.

  19. What is the Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) requirement?

    Prior to purchasing or acquiring a firearm, unless exempted, you must have a valid Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC). You must present your FSC to the firearms dealer at the time you begin a transaction to purchase or acquire a firearm and at delivery. The dealer must maintain the documentation with the DROS paperwork for the FSC or the exemption. For more information, please see the frequently asked questions for the FSC program.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 26840, 31615)

  20. What are the handgun safety testing requirements?

    No handgun may be sold, manufactured, etc., in California unless it has been safety tested by a DOJ-certified laboratory, found to have passed safety/reliability standards, and approved for sale by DOJ. Firearm manufacturers and importers, who wish to certify a handgun model for sale or manufacture within California must submit three copies of the handgun model directly to a DOJ-certified laboratory for testing.

    Upon approval of the test report and payment of listing fees, the handgun is listed on the DOJ Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. The roster lists qualifying handguns according to: make/model/caliber/barrel length. A change in any one of the roster categories is considered a new model and requires a new certification.

    Only handgun models listed on the roster may be manufactured, imported for sale, or sold in California. Private party and law enforcement transactions are exempt.

    A listing of certified handgun models is currently available on this website at http://certguns.doj.ca.gov/.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 32000 through 32015)

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  22. Are there a maximum number of handguns that a person may purchase?

    Yes. A person is generally limited to making no more than one application to purchase a handgun within any 30-day period. Handgun transactions related to law enforcement, private party transfers, returns to owners, and other specified circumstances are exempt from the one-handgun-per-30-day restriction.

    (Pen. Code, § 27535)

  23. What are the signature requirements for the DROS printouts?

    The purchaser must sign the DROS printout. For private party transactions, the seller must also sign the printout. The salesperson is required to sign as a witness to the purchaser's signature and identification.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 28160, 28165)

  24. What fees do I charge a firearm purchaser?

    In addition to the state's $19.00 DROS fee, you must also charge a $1.00 Firearms Safety fee and a $5.00 Safety and Enforcement fee. If the transaction being processed is a dealer sale, consignment return, or return from pawn, you may impose other charges as long as this amount is clearly shown as a "dealer fee" and not misrepresented as a state fee.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 23690, 28300)

  25. What fees can I charge for handling a Private Party Transfer (PPT)?

    If the transaction is a PPT, in addition to the state fees, you may charge up to $10.00 or less per firearm for conducting the PPT. For example:

    • For a PPT involving one or more firearms, the total allowable fees are $35.00 for the first firearm ($25 DROS fee and $10 PPT fee), and $10.00 for each subsequent firearm.

    (Pen. Code, § 28055)

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  27. What records of purchases must I maintain and for how long?

    The DROS printout signed by the purchaser and dealer must be retained for three years. Please contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) for information regarding federal documentation requirements.

    (Pen. Code, § 28215, subd. (c))

  28. Am I required to give a copy of the DROS information to the purchaser?

    Upon request, the dealer must provide the purchaser a copy of the signed DROS printout. In private party transactions, the seller is also entitled to a copy of the DROS record upon request.

    (Pen. Code, § 28215, subd. (e))

  29. How will I be notified regarding DROS denials and delays?

    If DOJ determines that a purchaser is ineligible to possess a firearm, the dealer will be notified not to deliver the firearm electronically via the DROS Entry System, via telephone, and a letter via U.S. Mail.

    The same process is used to notify dealers when a DROS has been placed on delay.

    (Pen. Code, § 28220)

  30. Does a DROS background check expire?

    Yes. If a purchaser does not take physical possession of the firearm within 30 days of submission of the DROS information, the dealer must cancel the DROS via the DROS Entry System. If the purchaser still wants the firearm, the dealer must submit a new DROS including fees.

    (Pen. Code, § 26835)

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  32. If a purchase transaction is delayed by DOJ, how does it affect the delivery within 30-days restriction?

    The 30-day delivery restriction begins upon notification from DOJ that the delay has been lifted and that the dealer is authorized to deliver the firearm within 30-days of the notification date. The firearms dealer must retain all notifications and correspondence.

  33. Am I required to provide customers with anything upon DOJ denial of a firearm transaction?

    Yes. If DOJ denies a firearm transaction, the firearms dealer is required to provide the prohibited individual with a General Notice of Firearm Prohibition and Power of Attorney for Firearms Relinquishment, Sale, or Transfer for Storage (BOF 110). The BOF 110 form allows a person who is prohibited to designate another person to relinquish, sell or dispose of the firearm(s) on his or her behalf.

    (Pen. Code, § 26815)

  34. How do I handle the paperwork when a purchaser returns a defective firearm?

    If a firearm is brought to you for service or repair, you may return it to the person who submitted it for repair without undergoing the DROS process. If the firearm (or a serialized part) must be replaced, a new DROS is required.

    (Pen. Code, § 28100, subd. (b)(10))

  35. Can I require a prospective employee to obtain a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC) as a condition of employment?

    No. Pursuant to Penal Code section 30105, subdivision (h), no person or agency may require or request another person to obtain a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC.) However, licensed California firearms dealers are authorized to require their employees to have a Certificate of Eligibility as evidence that the employee is not prohibited from possessing firearms.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 26915, 30105)

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  37. What is an employee Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?

    An employee COE is issued to employees of a licensed California firearms dealer found to be eligible to possess firearms. A person who has a current COE may be associated with a licensed firearms dealer by submitting an Employee Certificate of Eligibility Report of Employment form (BOF 117). To notify DOJ if an employee COE holder is no longer employed by a firearms dealer, please submit the Employee Certificate of Eligibility Termination of Employment form (BOF 118).

    (Pen. Code, § 26915)

  38. Is an employee Certificate of Eligibility (COE) required for every employee?

    No. Each firearms dealer determines which employees, if any, must have a COE. However, there may also be local laws or regulations that require employee COEs.

    (Pen. Code, § 26915)

  39. If I require my employee to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), who is responsible for paying the $78 fee?

    California law does not address the issue of who is responsible for COE fees.

  40. What is required if I permanently close my firearms dealership?

    You must submit written notification of your CFD # and the effective date of the closure to:

    Department of Justice
    Bureau of Firearms, Firearms Dealer Licensing
    P.O. Box 160467
    Sacramento, CA 94816-0467

    You must retain completed DROS forms for three years from the date of sale, after which they may be destroyed. Contact Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) regarding federal requirements for closing a firearms business and documentation requirements per federal law.

  41. What does a Large-Capacity Magazine Permit allow me to do?

    A Large-Capacity Magazine Permit allows licensed California firearms dealers to import and export large capacity magazines (ammunition feeding device that have the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds) from/to an out-of-state source.

    Permits are issued, upon request, to licensed firearms dealerships that have a marketplace for the sale, import, or export of large capacity ammunition feeding devices. To apply for a DOJ Large-Capacity Magazine permit, complete and submit a Large-Capacity Magazine Permit Application (BOF 050) to DOJ.

    (Pen. Code, §§ 16740, 32315 and 32430)

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DROS Entry System (DES) Internet Process

  1. What equipment/software do I need in order to use the DES web-based application?
  2. Do I need to subscribe to an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?
  3. Will DES work with a browser other than Internet Explorer?
  4. How can I obtain a magnetic stripe card reader to use with the computer I have in my dealership?
  5. Where can I obtain a copy of the DES Firearms Dealership User Guide?
  6. As a California firearms dealer, what information will I need to enroll and set up my account in DES?
  7. As an employee of the dealership, what information will I need to enroll and set up my account in DES?
  8. How do I obtain a DROS number?
  9. Can I initiate a DROS at a gun show without a computer?
  10. Why do I have to swipe the CA Driver's License/Identification card prior to delivery of a firearm sold at a gun show instead of making a photocopy of the purchaser's CA Driver's License/Identification card?
  11. How can I comply with the requirement to capture the purchaser's CA Driver's License/Identification card information if the magnetic stripe card reader malfunctions or the stripe on the back of the card is defective?

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  1. What equipment/software do I need in order to use the DES web-based application?

    The DES is a web-based application that can be used with most common web browsers. You will need the following equipment:

    • Computer, laptop, or tablet
    • Printer
    • Magnetic card swipe reader

    You will need the following software:

    • Adobe Acrobat Reader

    The reports generated by the DES will be in the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), which will require that you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer in order to view, save, or print a report. The latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader can be obtained from Adobe's website.

  2. Do I need to subscribe to an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

    Yes, you will need internet service to access a web browser that will then enable you to use DES.

  3. Will DES work with a browser other than Internet Explorer?

    Yes, DES will work with other browsers. However, some web browsers are not fully compatible with specific web applications. The DOJ is aware of potential compatibility issues with DES and Internet Explorer 8. Therefore, the DOJ recommends the following up-to-date browsers:

    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Google Chrome
    • Safari (not supported on Windows)
    • Internet Explorer

    Please note: System requirements vary for each Internet web browser, please refer to the web browser system requirements to determine compatibility with your computer. Other browsers might work with DES; however, we can not guarantee that features will work as expected. Also, if your web browser blocks pop-up windows, then DES must be added to the list of sites from which pop-ups are allowed; also known as "Exceptions."

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  5. How can I obtain a magnetic stripe card reader to use with the computer I have in my dealership?

    You may obtain a magnetic stripe card reader from retail outlets or through online websites. The DES is designed to work with most magnetic stripe card readers that meet California Department of Motor Vehicle specifications (based on AAMVA standards – card design 2009) which read 3-tracks, magnetic stripe data, and 2D barcode data. Please note: the DOJ is not liable for any issues related to the purchase and/or operation of magnetic stripe card readers.

  6. Where can I obtain a copy of the DES Firearms Dealership User Guide?

    You can download a copy of the DES Firearms Dealership User Guide from the Bureau of Firearms page. You may also access the Firearms Dealership User Guide from within any page of the DES, once you are logged in.

  7. As a California firearms dealer, what information will I need to enroll and set up my account in DES?

    You will need the following information:

    1. Certificate of Eligibility (COE) number
    2. California Firearms Dealer (CFD) number
    3. Federal Firearms License (FFL) number
    4. Unique personal ID number (must be same ID number used on COE application)
    5. Complete Name
    6. Three identity verification questions/answers
    7. User selected password
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  9. As an employee of the dealership, what information will I need to enroll and set up my account in DES?

    You will need the following information:

    1. Certificate of Eligibility (COE) number of dealer/employer
    2. California Firearms Dealer (CFD) number of dealer/employer
    3. Federal Firearms License (FFL) number of dealer/employer
    4. Unique personal ID number (i.e. CDL number or CID number)
    5. Complete Name
    6. Three identity verification questions/answers
    7. User selected password
  10. How do I obtain a DROS number?

    You must submit a DROS transaction through DES. Once the DROS has been submitted successfully, the system will automatically generate a DROS number and a completed copy of the DROS (with the DROS number) will display on your computer screen.

  11. Can I initiate a DROS at a gun show without a computer?

    Yes, you may initiate a DROS at a gun show using a paper DROS worksheet. The worksheet can be found on the DES main page under "Forms." Upon return to your business location, you must enter the DROS information in DES.

    Note: The 10-day waiting period (10, 24-hour periods) does not begin until you submit the DROS to DOJ via DES and receive a DROS number.

    Additionally, prior to the delivery of the firearm, you must swipe the purchaser's DMV issued driver's license/identification card through your magnetic stripe card reader. Then, print out and attach the information to the copy of the DROS that is retained in your dealership records. Following this process complies with the requirement as long as the information on the purchaser's DMV printout matches the same information recorded on the DROS.

    Detailed instructions for this process are as follows:

    If your computer has the Windows operating system, click on the Windows "Start" menu (or "Window" icon) located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. From this menu, choose "Programs" then select "Accessories" then select "WordPad" (or "Notepad"). Next, swipe the purchaser's CA Driver’s License/Identification card through the reader and the information will automatically transfer to the WordPad screen on your computer. Finally, to print the information, choose "File" from within the WordPad program application and select "Print" and then click "OK" (or "Print").

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  13. Why do I have to swipe the CA Driver's License/Identification card prior to delivery of a firearm sold at a gun show instead of making a photocopy of the purchaser's CA Driver's License/Identification card?

    Penal Code section 28180, subdivision (b)(2) specifically authorizes dealers to obtain a photocopy of the purchaser's CA Driver's License/Identification card in the event the card cannot be swiped through the reader due to technical limitations. However, there are no statutory/legal exemptions from this requirement for transactions that occur at gun shows.

  14. How can I comply with the requirement to capture the purchaser's CA Driver's License/Identification card information if the magnetic stripe card reader malfunctions or the stripe on the back of the card is defective?

    If your magnetic card swipe reader malfunctions, or if the CA Driver’s License/Identification card's magnetic stripe is defective, you may manually enter the information using your keyboard. However, you must retain a photocopy of the purchaser's CA Driver’s License/Identification card along with the original DROS.

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