Posted: January 6, 2020

Firearms and Weapons in RCFEs

Firearms regulations are coming! CDSS has yet to update the General Licensing Requirements, but the Health and Safety code changes from SB-172 gives us a good idea of what to expect in the coming months. This new law is also known as the “Keep Our Seniors Safe Act.”
According to Senator Portantino, the sponsor of the successful bill, “Living facilities are allowed by the state to accept and retain firearms, along with accepting many residents having mild to severe cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s or other related dementias. Characteristics of the cognitively impaired include paranoia, confusion, and anger.  Having unsecured firearms in proximity to dementia residents is a dangerous risk. With 70% of assisted living residents having some level of dementia, firearms pose significant risk for everyone in the assisted living setting, so this bill proactively prevents a tragedy.”

Firstly, please note the law clearly states facilities are not obligated to accept firearms on the premises.  As a private entity, RCFEs are allowed to have a firearms policy. However, if your facility permits residents to possess firearms, please take note of some important new restrictions.

All residents’ firearms must be kept in a locked gun safe, and the ammunition must be locked and stored separately. It must be a DOJ (Department of Justice) approved gun safe, so just locking it in a filing cabinet will not work. The DOJ provides a definition of a gun safe here: When shopping for a gun safe, look for the phrase “DOJ Approved Firearm Storage” or similar verbiage.

Firearms must be stored unloaded. If the licensee has firearms, these must also be stored unloaded and locked in a gun safe. The licensee storing the residents’ firearms does not constitute a transfer, so it doesn’t not conflict with existing law that prohibits transferring firearms without going through a licensed firearms dealer.

Starting July 1st, 2021, licensees can no longer accept, retain, or store residents’ firearms unless the resident provides official documentation that the firearm is registered to that resident. Proof of registration comes from the Department of Justice. Antique firearms are exempt.

There are also multiple state laws that ban certain kinds of firearms and weapons, and those bans also apply to RCFEs. These bans have been in effect before the passage of SB-172, but they are included again in SB-172 for clarity. For a complete description of the restrictions and exceptions, please see Section 1569.283 in the link at the end of this article.

These California Health and Safety Codes go into effect on January 1, 2020.

For a complete reading of SB-172, click this link:

This article is not intended to provide legal advice.