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Wednesday, April 25, 2018


In our last alert discussing California driver licenses and the Real ID Act, we mentioned that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) had told Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) ATF that the non-REAL ID licenses issued to lawful California residents would be different than those issued to undocumented individuals.
It has come to our attention that DMV is issuing identification to lawful California residents that are identical to those issued to individuals who are unable to provide proof of their lawful presence in the United States. In other words, DMV provided ATF with bad information.
This means there is no distinction between an AB 60 license and a non-REAL ID, despite what the ATF previously attested to in communications with NRA and CRPA attorneys. As a result, California licensed firearm dealers are currently prohibited from accepting non-REAL IDs for the purposes of firearm transfers due to ATF’s current policy.
NRA and CRPA attorneys have reached out to ATF and DMV for further clarification but have yet to receive a response. Make sure you are subscribed to NRA and CRPA email alerts to be notified of any updates on this issue as it develops.
In addition, NRA and CRPA attorneys have received word from at least one firearms dealer that the California Department of Justice (“CA DOJ”) has taken the position that any license with the words “FEDERAL LIMTS APPLY” is not acceptable for the purposes of purchasing or transferring firearms, regardless of any additional language on the back of the license. This appears to be an unlawful overreach by CA DOJ because the question of lawful presence in the United States as it relates to firearm purchases falls directly under ATF’s control.
Under California law, one only needs to provide “clear evidence of the person’s identity and age” when attempting to acquire a firearm from a California licensed dealer. “Clear evidence” is defined as a valid California Driver’s License or Identification Card. Because both AB 60 licenses and non-REAL IDs are considered valid California identification, regardless if they satisfy federal requirements or not, both satisfy California’s requirement of “clear evidence of the person’s identity and age.”
Following additional clarification from ATF and DMV, NRA and CRPA attorneys will address CA DOJ’s position should they still insist that such licenses are restricted. Until then, we recommend our members hold off on renewing their California identification if possible or apply for and obtain a REAL ID.