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Process to get a hunting license in California

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Posted at 4:09 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 19:28:08-05

(KGTV) — After investigators learned that the accused Poway synagogue shooter did not have a valid hunting license to purchase the firearm, which he used to gun down one woman and injure three others, questions arose as to how he acquired a gun.

California Senator Anthony Portantino told 10News the state Department of Justice and Department of Fish and Wildlife that the suspected shooter's hunting license was invalid at the time of his gun purchase.

A valid hunting license is one exception to the law Portantino authored to set the age limit to buy a firearm in California to 21. To get a hunting license however, there are several requirements applicants must fulfill:

An annual state hunting license is valid from July 1 through June 30 the following year. If the license is acquired after July 1 though, it's valid through the end of the license year.

According to the state, applicants must present one of the following when applying for an annual hunting license:

  • Evidence of a prior annual California hunting license;
  • A two-day nonresident California hunting license issued after the 1999/2000 license year;
  • A California certificate of hunter education completion or equivalency with a unique number imprinted on it (for example: AA00000) or a California hunter education certificate with no unique number imprinted and a California hunter education validation stamp affixed;
  • A certificate of successful completion of a California-approved hunter education course from any state or province; or
  • Evidence of a current hunting license or a hunting license being issued in either of the two previous years from any state, province, European Country or South Africa.

There is no minimum age requirement for purchasing a hunting license as long as the applicant shows proof of hunter education. But generally, hunter education instructors ask that students be at least 10 years old, as students must be able to read, write, and understand the questions given a required written test to complete the course.

The course includes education on firearms safety and handling, sportsmanship and ethics, wildlife management and conservation, archery, black powder, wildlife identification, game care, first aid, and survival.

Applicants also have the option to take the required training course online. But if they choose to do so, they will need to attend a four-hour follow-up class with a certified hunter education instructor.

Once the required education courses are complete, licenses can then be purchased either online or from any Fish and Wildlife sales office or licensed agent.

California prohibits firearms dealers from selling guns to anyone under the age of 21, with certain exceptions. One of those exceptions include customers at least 18 years of age with a valid, unexpired state hunting license.

From there, there are a few rules as to what firearms someone with a hunting license can purchase. Anyone younger than 21 cannot buy a semiautomatic center-fire rifle in California.

After making a purchase through a licensed state dealer, California imposes a 10-day waiting period before a firearm can be released to a purchaser.