California Penal Code 23900 PC illegalizes changing or removing a gun’s identifying information without written preapproval from the Department of Justice. Violating PC 23900 is charged as a felony, which carries a county jail sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years.
The law’s text reads:
23900. Any person who changes, alters, removes, or obliterates the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification, including any distinguishing number or mark assigned by the Department of Justice, on any pistol, revolver, or any other firearm, without first having secured written permission from the department to make that change, alteration, or removal shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
California Penal Code 23900 PC makes it a criminal offense to remove or alter a gun’s:
- name of the maker,
- manufacturer’s number, or
- other identifying mark (including a DOJ-assigned distinguishing number or mark).
Example: David is cleaning the long gun he uses for hunting. When scraping off debris, David causes the gun’s serial number to become illegible. If caught, David could face PC 23900 charges for altering the gun’s identifying information without permission.
PC 23900 applies to all firearms, including:
- rifles, and
Unlawfully altering or removing a gun’s identifying information is a felony in California, punishable by a county jail sentence of:
- 16 months,
- 2 years, or
- 3 years.
In addition, the judge can fine the defendant $10,000.
Note that a full defense to PC 23900 charges is that the defendant got written permission ahead of time from the Department of Justice to make the changes.1
Learn more about California gun laws.
- California Penal Code 23900 PC – Unauthorized change; Punishment.