California: Armed Security Officers

Legislation and Details for California


California Business and Professions Code
Chapter 11.4 Proprietary Security Services, Sections 7574-7576
Chapter 11.5 Private Security Services, Sections 7580-7596
Barclays Official California Code of Regulations
Title 16. Professional and Vocational Regulations
Division 7. Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

Alerts / Recent Developments

In October 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 229 into law. Among other things, this new law expands the duty of California Private Patrol Operators (PPOs) to report “incidents” that occur by security officers on duty. Not only does it greatly enlarge the obligation and the circumstances of reporting, but citations for failure to report have just increased from $1,000 per violation to $5,000 per violation. This requirement took effect immediately.

The New Rule:

The Private Security Services Act, Business & Professions Code § 7583.2 now requires a written Incident Report to BSIS within 7 business days of the occurrence of any of the following:

  1.  Discharge of a Firearm
  2.  Physical altercation with a member of the public while on duty that results in any of the following:

-Arrest of a security guard.
-Filing of a police report by a member of the public.
-Member of the public requiring any type of first aid or other medical attention.
-The discharge, suspension, or reprimand of a security guard by their employer.
-Any physical use of force or violence on any person while on duty.


The new law also adds a requirement for Use of Force Training.  This piece of the legislation will take effect in 2023.

Authorizing Department

California Department of Consumer Affairs
Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

P.O. Box 989002
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

Phone: (916) 322-4000

Official Website

Licensure and License Fees

A registered Security Guard may obtain a firearms permit from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS)

The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS or Bureau) issues Firearms Permits (also referred to as a “Firearms Qualification Card (FQ)” or “Exposed Firearms Permit”) as specified in Article 4 (commencing with Section 7540) of Chapter 11.3, Article 4 (commencing with Section 7583) of Chapter 11.5 and Article 6 (commencing with Section 7596) of Chapter 11.6 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code (BPC).
See: Firearms Permit Fact Sheet


Effective July 1, 2018, a BSIS security guard registrant seeking an initial BSIS firearms permit must complete an assessment for the purposes of determining whether he/she possesses, at the time of the assessment, appropriate judgment, restraint, and self-control to carry a firearm while on duty (Business and Professions Code Sections 7583.23 and 7583.47).

California permits both paper and online applications for registration purposes.

$100   Fee for firearms permit
Fee for fingerprints:
$118   Fee for DOJ and FBI processing
$38   Fee for DOJ firearm eligibility application, plus Live Scan site fee.
$98   Fee for renewal; permit must be renewed every two years

See: See: Firearms Permit Fact Sheet

A Proprietary Security Officer are not permitted to carry a deadly weapon.
See Prorpietary Security Officer FAQ

Foreign Jurisdiction Licensure

To be eligible for a BSIS Firearms Permit, applicants must complete and submit the Firearms Permit Initial Application to the Bureau.
See: Firearms Permit Fact Sheet

Age Requirements

To be eligible for a BSIS Firearms Permit, applicants must be at least 21 years of age (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.23, and 7596.3).

See: Firearms Permit Fact Sheet


To be eligible for a BSIS Firearms Permit, applicants must be a citizen of the United States or have permanent legal alien status (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.23, and 7596.3)

See: Firearms Permit Fact Sheet




As stated in the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services Firearms Training Manual:

1.   An active duty peace officer may carry an exposed or concealed weapon while on duty as a security guard provided all of the following conditions are satisfied: The peace officer is employed as a security guard and is either on the pay-roll (paid on a W-2) of a private patrol operator (i.e. paid with a W-2), or is employed by a proprietary private security employer (i.e. such as in-house security) and is an employee (not a subcontractor) of the employer (i.e. a VIP being protected). Firearm Training Manual 17 While on duty as an armed security guard, the peace officer must possess a guard registration card and an exposed weapon permit issued by the bureau. An active duty peace officer is not required to complete the Bureau’s firearm course nor satisfy the bureau’s twice-a-year range requalifications. An active duty or level I or II reserve peace officer is exempt from the training and the requalifying requirements as long as they are required to requalify with their law enforcement employer. An active duty peace officer who contracts to provide armed security services must possess a private patrol operator’s license issued by the bureau.

2.   An honorably retired peace officer with an endorsement from a law enforcement agency to carry a concealed weapon may carry a concealed weapon while on duty as a private patrol operator (qualified manager), security guard, private investigator (qualified manager), alarm company qualified manager or alarm agent, provided that he/she has a valid private patrol operator license, security guard registration, private investigator license, alarm company qualified manager license or alarm agent registration, and a valid firearm permit issued by the bureau. Retired peace officers must complete the bureau’s course of fire and the twice-a-year requalification requirements.

3.   Reserve peace officers authorized and qualified by their agency to carry a firearm are exempt from completing the twice-a-year two-hour course review and range requalifications. Reserve peace officers not authorized and qualified to carry a firearm while on duty must complete the twice-a-year course review and the range requalifications (California Code of Regulations, Section 633(e)). Reserve peace officers must submit proof from their agency that they are authorized and qualified to carry a firearm in order to be exempt from the requalification requirements.

Permit Required

A Bureau of Security and Investigative Services Firearms Permit is required.

See: Instructions on how to obtain and comply with firearms laws and regulations

Requirement to carry an ID card

California requires a Photo ID for Security Officer Registrants.
See Bureau of Security and Investigative Services Photo ID Card Instructions

California also requires Security Guards to carry a Guard Card.
See: How to obtain a Guard Card

Moral Character

No baseline requirement


Applicants for a BSIS Firearms Permit must submit their fingerprints electronically through the Live Scan system to the FBI and the DOJ.

See here for the Security Guard Request for Live Scan Form
See here for the Live Scan Locations

Mental Health

A new law went into effect on July 1, 2018 that requires a BSIS security guard registrant seeking to associate a BSIS Firearms Permit to the guard registration to complete an assessment to demonstrate that they are capable, at the time the assessment is completed, of demonstrating appropriate judgment, restraint and self-control for the purposes of carrying and using a firearm when performing security guard duties. (Business and Professions Code Section 7583.23 and 7583.47).

NOTE: Effective January 1, 2022, the assessment must be completed prior to submitting an Application for an Initial Firearms Permit. This is a significant change. Prior practice was to take the assessment AFTER you applied; as of January 1, 2022, you must take it PRIOR to applying for a firearms permit.

Criminal History Background Check

Applicants must undergo a criminal history background check through the FBI and the DOJ.

Applicants for a BSIS Firearms Permit must not be prohibited from owning or possessing any firearm pursuant to State or Federal Law.

In addition to completing the required Live Scan, applicants must also complete and submit the Firearm Eligibility Application to DOJ and pay the $38.00 application fee to the Live Scan operator.
See here for the Security Guard Firearm Request for Live Scan Form
See here for the Live Scan Locations

Personal References

Not required

Training Requirements

Required Training Courses (BPC Sections 7542, 7574.18, 7583.5, 7583.6, 7583.7, 7583.8, 7583.23, and 7596)
Applicants for a BSIS Firearms Permit must complete the following training:

Power to Arrest
(1)   Responsibilities and ethics in citizen arrest.
(2)   Relationship between a security guard and a peace officer in making an arrest.
(3)   Limitations on security guard power to arrest.
(4)   Restrictions on searches and seizures.
(5)   Criminal and civil liabilities.
    (A)   Personal liability.
    (B)   Employer liability.
(6)   Trespass law.
(7)   Ethics and communications.
(8)   Emergency situation response, including response to medical emergencies.
(9)   Security officer safety.
(10)   Any other topic deemed appropriate by the bureau.

See the Power to Arrest Training Manual

  BSIS Firearms Training and Qualifications
•   Moral and Legal Aspects
•   Firearms Nomenclature and Maintenance
•   Weapon Handling and Shooting Fundamentals
•   Range Preparation
•   Range Training
•   Range Qualification

See the Firearms Training Manual for a detailed outline of firearm training.

Exam Requirement

See BSIS Firearms Training Manual dated January 2022

Written Firearms Exam Scoring Instructions: The BSIS Firearms Training Written Examination is worth 52 points. There are 50 written questions worth one-point each plus two handgun diagrams with each diagram worth one-point each. The applicant must correctly label each part of a handgun diagram to receive the one-point credit for that diagram. If one item is incorrectly labeled, the applicant does not get a point for the diagram. To pass the exam, the applicant must obtain a score of 85% or higher. An 85% score equals 44 correct responses. To determine an applicant’s percentage score, divide the total number of correct responses by 52.
See: Firearms Permit Initial Application

Written Firearms Examination Requirement to Renew: A condition for renewal is the applicant passing the written Firearms Examination in the BSIS Firearms Training Manual with a score of 85% or greater. The law does not specify during which qualification the applicant must complete the written exam. The Bureau recommends the applicant take it in the second 12-month period of the current permit term.
See: Firearms Permit Renewal Application

Child Support

According to California § 11350.6:
The state may suspend any occupational or professional license for failure to pay child support

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