Air Gun Laws in San Francisco California

For the most part, San Franciscans are a bunch of dance-around-the-peace-tree hippys. That’s ok, I like dancing. And when the zombie revolution comes, it’ll be easy to repel their sorry undead asses with my patchouli scented bullets.

(Don’t stop at the following sentence, read the whole post because it gets weird)

In San Francisco, it is illegal to buy or have in one’s possession a  BB gun / air gun / pellet gun.

It shall be unlawful for any person, except for a peace officer authorized under California Penal Code Section 12600, to buy, sell, offer or expose for sale, barter or exchange, have in his possession or use any sling shot.
It shall also be unlawful for any person to buy, sell, offer or expose for sale, barter or exchange, have in his possession or use any toy by which, whether used singly or in combination of units, missiles may be projected by force or compressed air, carbon dioxide, or any other chemical, gas, or other element, or combined thereof. Nothing in this section is intended to be inconsistent with Government Code Section 53071.5 or any successor statute regulating imitation firearms, BB guns or air rifles.
(Amended by Ord. 4782, Series of 1939, App. 1/6/48; Ord. 260-04, File No. 031932, App. 11/4/2004)

The state calls an air gun a “BB Device”. It is a form of “imitation firearm”.

California Article 1, Section 12001, subsection G:  For purposes of Sections 12551 and 12552, the term “BB device” means any instrument that expels a projectile, such as a BB or a pellet, not exceeding 6 mm caliber, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun.

The state says you can’t just tote an exposed imitation firearm (which includes BB guns) around.

(a) No person may openly display or expose any imitation firearm, as defined in Section 12550, in a public place.
(b) Violation of this section, except as provided in subdivision (c), is an infraction punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) for the first offense, and three hundred dollars ($300) for a second offense.
(c) A third or subsequent violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor.

So you can’t run around with a BB Gun in California unless…

(d) Subdivision (a) shall not apply to the following, when the imitation firearm is:
(1) Packaged or concealed so that it is not subject to public viewing.
(2) Displayed or exposed in the course of commerce, including commercial film or video productions, or for service, repair, or restoration of the imitation firearm.
(3) Used in a theatrical production, a motion picture, video, television, or stage production.
(4) Used in conjunction with a certified or regulated sporting event or competition.
(5) Used in conjunction with lawful hunting, or lawful pest control activities.
(6) Used or possessed at certified or regulated public or private shooting ranges.
(7) Used at fairs, exhibitions, expositions, or other similar activities for which a permit has been obtained from a local or state government.
(8) Used in military, civil defense, or civic activities, including flag ceremonies, color guards, parades, award presentations, historical reenactments, and memorials.
(9) Used for public displays authorized by public or private schools or displays that are part of a museum collection.
(10) Used in parades, ceremonies, or other similar activities for which a permit has been obtained from a local or state government.
(11) Displayed on a wall plaque or in a presentation case.
(12) Used in areas where the discharge of a firearm is lawful.
hellokitty_ar15assault_1(13) A device where the entire exterior surface of the device is white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern, or where the entire device is constructed of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the device’s complete contents. Merely having an orange tip as provided in federal law and regulations does not satisfy this requirement. The entire surface must be colored or transparent or translucent.
(e) For purposes of this section, the term “public place” means an area open to the public and includes streets, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, driveways, front yards, parking lots, automobiles, whether moving or not, and buildings open to the general public, including those that serve food or drink, or provide entertainment, and the doorways and entrances to buildings or dwellings.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude prosecution for a violation of Section 171b, 171.5, or 626.10

bARbie-15… you can’t run around with a BB Gun in California unless you keep it in a box, you’re shooting it somewhere that it’s legal to shoot a gun, or the BB gun is painted some crazy ass color like bright purple! (Yes, the image of the Hello Kitty assault rifle above is real. Sanrio asked the maker of the rifle to remove the kitty and he did a while back. Then there’s the bARbie-15 :-)

So in brief, BB guns are more illegal than real guns in San Francisco. California law is more lenient, saying that as long as you keep it under wraps (or paint it bright purple), it’s not a big deal.


  1. Ken says:

    >(3) Used in a theatrical production, a motion picture, video, television, or stage production.

    Seems like all you need to have is someone aiming a camera at you, and you can shoot your regular old BB gun anywhere!

  2. jonathan says:

    i the uk i own a bbgun site and i can only sell two tone bbguns legally thay have to be at least 60 percent in a color like red or blue so to not look like a real gun

  3. David G says:

    Its because of all those hip hop kids in the 90’s that brought about all these gun laws in california.People in Ca are so scared of confrontation that when you approach them with a problem,they pull a gun out and shoot.This is the absolute truth,their some of the countries biggest wimps.

  4. GEORGE says:


  5. ChrisLA says:

    Looks like LA country is joining you.

    Senate Bill 1315 would allow the County of Los Angeles and any city within that county, to regulate and ban the sale of any BB “device,” toy gun, replica of a firearm, or other device that meets both of the following requirements: the “device” is so substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to perceive that the device is a firearm and expels a projectile that is no more than 16 millimeters in diameter.

  6. lee says:

    Comments were disabled on 6-18-19 because I was getting a lot of comment spam on this post. If you have a comment, I welcome you to write to me.