Owning guns in California is a challenge. Any kind of gun. Owning any effective gun is even more a challenge. Doing anything other than keeping it in a locked box is almost impossible, outside of a very limited set of exception.
The short form of this article is that California already has EVERY single proposed ban on “assault weapons” and they cover far more than you might think, yet we still had the San Bernardino shootings. The laws fail.
Yet the San Bernardino attack happened.
Now, in the nightly news, we have “San Bernardino” being held up as an example of WHY we need more “gun control” (meaning gun banning). As though there were not already such law on the books in California.
Hearing that, again and again, I realized that many folks do not realize the flat our lie it pushes.
The notion that “IF ONLY we had ‘assault weapon’ bans” it would not have happened… Completing missing the point that they are effectively banned in California.
With that in mind, I’m going to list here some of the banned things and some of the California law, just so it is VERY clear what the rest of the country has to look for in their future and so that everyone can see just how useless banning “assault weapons” really is. Also the lie of just what one is. The popular notion is that these are “military guns”, often implicitly to include full auto or burst mode. The reality is that full auto and burst mode are entirely illegal in California (and much of the rest of the nation) without very special licenses that are very hard to get.
So what IS an “assault weapon” as the gun banners choose to define them?
Mostly it is an “ugly gun” in their eyes. Essentially NONE of the features they used to define one has any practical impact on lethality. The only exception is limiting magazines to 10 rounds, but even then it just means carry of 2 x the number of magazines (or 3 x) of smaller size each and about a 1 SECOND magazine swap. So also nearly nothing. That lead to a ban on magazines that can be removed without a ‘tool’. The San Bernardino shooters just made illegal modifications and got around it. By breaking the law.
Do note: It includes pistols with two grips, or a 10+round magazine in any gun. It also includes shotguns.
Not what you thought? That is the point of the “assault weapon” lie in law.
From the wiki:
Here’s the intro, bold mine.
The gun laws of California are some of the most restrictive in the United States. A Firearm Safety Certificate, obtained by passing a written test, is required for gun purchases. Handguns sold by dealers must be “California legal” by being listed on the state’s Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. This roster, which requires handgun manufacturers to pay a fee and submit specific models for safety testing, has become progressively more stringent over time and is currently the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit on the basis that it is a de facto ban on new handgun models. Private sales of firearms must be done through a licensed dealer. All firearm sales are recorded by the state, and have a ten-day waiting period. Unlike most other states, California has no provision in its state constitution that explicitly guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. The California Supreme Court has maintained that most of California’s restrictive gun laws are constitutional, based on the fact that the state’s constitution does not explicitly guarantee private citizens the right to purchase, possess, or carry firearms. However, U.S. Supreme Court decisions of Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010) established that the Second Amendment applies to all states within the Union, and many of California’s gun laws are now being challenged in the federal courts.
California Penal Code §12031 defines what constitutes a loaded weapon.
Semi-automatic firearms that the state has classified as assault weapons; .50 BMG caliber rifles; and high-capacity magazines (magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition) may not be sold in California. Possession of automatic firearms, and of short-barreled shotguns and rifles, is generally prohibited.
California is a “may issue” state for permits to carry concealed guns. The willingness of issuing authorities in California ranges from No Issue in most urban areas to Shall Issue in rural counties. Additionally, the issuing authority can also impose restrictions on the CCW permit-holder, such as limiting concealed carry only to the purposes listed on the approved CCW permit application. However, concealed carry permits are valid statewide, regardless of where they were issued. This creates a situation where residents in presumptively No Issue locations such as Los Angeles and San Francisco cannot lawfully carry a concealed firearm, but residents from other counties with more permissive CCW issuance policies can lawfully carry within these same jurisdictions. California does not recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states, and non-residents are generally forbidden from obtaining a California concealed carry permit.
California has state preemption for many, but not all, firearms laws. Actual enforcement of California’s firearms laws also varies widely across the state. Urban areas, such as the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas strictly enforce firearms laws, and some communities within these areas have passed local ordinances that make legally owning a firearm difficult. Meanwhile, some rural jurisdictions narrowly enforce the same firearms laws by prosecuting only those who demonstrate malicious intent, or not enforcing portions of the state’s firearms laws at all. The California Highway Patrol strictly enforces state firearms law anywhere in California.
So it is the “wet dream” of gun banners, er, “control” advocates…
ANY sale is only through a Federal Firearms License dealer, has a waiting period, and is forever engraved in Your Papers in Your Dossier at Central Authority. No “gun show loophole”. No difference either other than being a royal PITA and wasting a lot of money.
You MUST get a State Approved “certificate” to exercise your right under the constitution to buy a gun. ANY gun.
Anything the State chooses to call an “assault weapon” is illegal to buy. Anything with more than 10 rounds magazine too. Oh, and forget any actual machine guns even if you try to get the license. (Sometimes a movie studio can get an exemption / license). There is an exception made for tubular magazines on .22 LR Rifles as they are part of the gun and essentially all of them come in over 10 rounds.
So, with essentially EVERY POSSIBLE “assault weapon” banned at whim, we’re perfectly safe, right?
Ask the folks in San Bernardino…
Here are the details on what makes an “assault weapon”. I’ll interleave some comments, bold mine:
Since 1989, it is illegal to sell a firearm that the state has defined as an assault weapon and that has been listed in the California Department of Justice (DOJ) roster of prohibited firearms. This includes many military look-alike semi-automatic rifles and .50 caliber BMG rifles.
So this isn’t something new. It has been around for 27 years now. All the “grandfathered” guns are getting worn out and / or moved out of the State. Anything new is under the ban. Oh, but you had to register them to be legal…
DOJ roster firearms may be legally possessed if registered with the state prior to January 2005. Military look-alike firearms that are not listed on the DOJ roster of prohibited firearms, known as “off-list lowers,” are legal* to own and possess as long as state laws concerning configuration are followed. It is illegal to import, sell, give, trade, or lend a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition, except for fixed tubular magazines for lever-action rifles and .22 caliber rifles; however, the possession of such magazines is legal. *Technically these “off-list” lowers are Category 2 assault weapons under current California law. However, in the 2001 case Harrott v. County of Kings (25 P.3d 649 (Cal. 2001), the Category 2 assault weapon law was ruled unenforceable.
Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989
IF you have an old magazine from prior to 1989, you can keep it and be legal. No new ones though. So how’s that 10 round limit working out? Ask the folks in San Bernardino…
Main article: Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989
The Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 (AWCA), its augmentation in 1999, and the .50 Caliber BMG Regulation Act of 2004 have led to many restrictions on semi-automatic firearms. In addition to a list of specific firearms that are banned by name, the following firearms are banned by characteristic (from Penal Code §12276.1):
(1) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
(A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
(B) A thumbhole stock.
(C) A folding or telescoping stock.
(D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
(E) A flash suppressor.
(F) A forward pistol grip.
Now just how a fluted barrel end so you don’t go night blind on a pig hunt, or a pistol grip changes a rifle from “Good” to “Bad” is very opaque. But just be forewarned: IF you want a gun with a folding stock (so it fits in your boat better) or a pistol grip (as they are easier for some folks to hold – like arthritic wrists), or even a thumbhole stock like competition shooters use, well, give it up. Someone doesn’t like that as they think it looks mean. Never mind it has no practical impact on lethality.
But just let that sink in. A Deer Hunting Rifle with with a 4 round detachable box magazine and target grade thumbhole stock is an “assault weapon”. Register yourself at the politically incorrect counter, pay your fees, and be prepared for bans and raids.
(2) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
ANY centerfire rifle over 10 rounds magazine, even if the magazine is fixed in place. This matters since The State effectively banned removable magazines in “ugly guns” by putting all of them on the banned list. The “work around” was something called the Bullet Button (ref below). You can’t eject the magazine by hand, but must use a “tool”. Via court case, a bullet was ruled a “tool”. (Hey, any chunk of metal would do, but the bullet is handy. Had the case been lost, then folks would just hang a hex key on a wrist band).
This matters because it is what the San Bernardino folks used. They did, however, modify the mechanism illegally to enable a finger push to work. (I surmise they figured out that a chunk of metal rod and superglue makes a non-finger button fingerable length…)
And that, in essence, is the problem. Folks willing to commit murder are not really concerned about following all the niceties of making their gun conform to stupidity.
So they had a friend buy a legal “semi-ugly” gun, illegally transfer it to them, then made illegal modifications, then transported it illegally after loading it, to commit illegal murders. I think I see a trend… Laws don’t stop them.
(3) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches [762 mm].
(4) A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
(A) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip.
(B) A second handgrip.
(C) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon without burning his or her hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel.
(D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
(5) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
(6) A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:
(A) A folding or telescoping stock.
(B) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip.
What difference does it make to have the magazine outside the pistol grip? None. What difference does it make to have a second hand grip? None. (Except maybe to the elderly and women with small hands who need a better grip on a gun). Essentially, this is an “ugly gun” spec, devoid of practical effect.
How about you folks with shotguns? Think you are exempt?
(7) A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
(8) Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
Nope. Now a revolving shotgun is not exactly a state of the art “assault weapon”, but they do look scary. Welcome to banning state of the art 1800’s technology. Also note that most semi-auto shotguns let you feed ammo into the loading gate any time you like. A bag on the hip is an unlimited magazine, but that’s OK, it isn’t a detachable box. Forget having two boxes, one with turkey loads and one with deer slugs, and swapping as whichever one presents to you. That would be using an “assault weapon”.
And that is the essential lie at the hear ot “assault weapons” bans. They do NOT ban Military Guns, they ban things like shotguns and pistols with the “wrong” grips.
In addition, (Penal Code §12001.5) bans, by definition, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles. Defined in Penal Code §12020; a short-barreled shotgun is defined as a firearm (designed, redesigned, or altered) to fire a fixed shotgun shell and has a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches. A short-barreled rifle is defined as a semiautomatic, center fire rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches.
Interesting note- While a Rossi Circuit Judge (18″ barrel) is considered a shotgun with a revolving cylinder (violation of #8 above), the CA DOJ claims it is legal because it has a rifled barreled. However, the Taurus Judge handgun is considered a “short-barreled shotgun” and therefore illegal in CA, even though it fires the same shot shell as the Circuit Judge, as well as has a rifled barrel. Conversely, there are many revolvers that fire shot shells made in different calibers (e.g. 22, 9mm, 38, etc.) mostly used to shoot birds or snakes. Even though these handguns, with less that 18″ barrels, fire shot shells, like the The Judge, they are legal in California.
Hopefully that helps make it clear why folks who DO know something about guns are so adamantly against “assault weapons bans”. First off, they are butt stupid. Second off, they just don’t work (see San Bernardino). Third, they are a royal PITA to us normal folks.
A bullet button is a device used to fix a magazine in a semiautomatic rifle that replaces the magazine release with a block which forces the user to remove the magazine by using a tool as opposed to his or her finger; this allows rifles to comply with California’s firearms law. The name came about due to a 1999 California State law which said that a “bullet or ammunition cartridge is considered a tool.”
After certain rifles with detachable magazines and certain other features were classified as assault weapons under California State law, gun owners and manufacturers sought various ways to obtain certain styles of rifles similar to those determined to be assault weapons. One of the most common modifications is the use of a part known as a bullet button, which modifies a rifle so that the magazine is not removable without the use of a tool (a bullet was defined as a tool per state law). The bullet button was invented and named by Darin Prince of California in January 2007. Prince also holds the US Trademark for Bullet Button USPTO trademark registration number 77663672
The bullet button recesses a small release within a block that replaces the magazine release. The recessed button to detach the magazine cannot be pressed by the shooter’s finger. Firearms with this feature no longer have a “detachable magazine” under California’s assault weapons definition, and therefore may be exempt depending on the other requirements.
The 2012 court case Haynie v Pleasanton validated that a bullet button is legal and rifles that have one installed are not considered assault weapons.
Many tools have been devised to make it easier and faster to release a magazine from a rifle, as California law states that the user must use an external tool not attached to the rifle. A popular tool, the “magnet button,” which sticks on the bullet button, has not been determined to be illegal. The use of illegal buttons may cause the rifle to be considered an assault weapon, which is a felony and could result in prosecution.
Gun-rights activist Jeff Knox wrote that banning guns with bullet buttons would be unconstitutional.
California Senator Leland Yee attempted to have the bullet button outlawed in California, as did U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein at the federal level; both attempts failed. On April 20, 2016, California state lawmakers gave initial approval of a bill that prohibited the sale of rifles with the bullet button. This followed a December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, in which the perpetrators, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, used rifles with the bullet button, which they modified to circumvent the device.
So after breaking a few dozen laws, including murder, the “fix” is to make it even harder for all the rest of us to change magazines when we DON’T illegally modify our firearms!?
“The Stupid Is Strong In Them, OB1″…
Odds and Odder Ends
Just Traveling through?
Get your butt out of town fast, don’t stop unless you can’t keep moving, and better have a lot of locked boxes.
Nonresidents transporting assault weapons through California
There are protections under the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act for nonresidents traveling through California with firearms that meet the state’s assault weapon criteria. First, the weapon must be legal for the traveler to own under federal law and under the laws of his or her home state and the state of destination. Additionally, the weapon in question must be unloaded with the firearm and ammunition locked in separate cases and placed in an area of the vehicle that is not easily accessible, such as the trunk of a car or bed of a truck. Finally, the traveler should traverse the state by the shortest route and make the minimum number of stops practicable.
Those of you with hatchback cars, station wagons, vans, and no trunk, well, hope the cop takes pity on you… Also, do note the 2 boxes. No sticking ammo into the gun case and calling it locked and done. Oh, and no stopping for lunch and a movie with family or friends along the way. That stop wasn’t needed and you violated the “minium” “practicable” provision. Welcome to jail…
Oh, and make SURE you have a map of EVERY school of any kind whatsoever.
When being transported, handguns must be unloaded and in a locked fully enclosed container other than the glove box or any console attached to the vehicle. The trunk of a car is considered to be a locked container but a glove box or “utility box” is specifically forbidden. If one believes he or she is within a “gun-free school zone” (area surrounding 1,000 feet from the edge of school grounds which teaches any grade from kindergarten to 12th grade) then the handgun must be locked in a fully enclosed container. Failure to lock up a handgun while in a school zone is a violation of federal (only if one does not possess a concealed weapons permit issued by California) and state law.
Long guns (rifles, shotguns) must be unloaded when transported in a vehicle. There is no requirement for a locked container with the exception of long guns considered to be “assault weapons”. Federal law requires locking containers when inside of a “gun-free school zone.” In U.S. v. Lopez the Supreme Court ruled the federal Gun-Free School Zone Act was an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s power under the commerce clause. However, in 1996 Congress passed an amendment to the law requiring the gun to have traveled in interstate commerce, thereby voiding the effect of the ruling.
Assault weapons, as defined by California law, must always be transported in locked containers and may only be transported under certain circumstances
So note that simply transporting their guns was a separate offense for the San Bernardino shooters.
The school zone of 1000 feet is about 5 blocks in my neighborhood. Mapping out the local schools, it is essentially impossible to leave my neighborhood and not be in one at some point. Lord help the person who doesn’t know the area and doesn’t know a school is 4 blocks off the freeway…
Oh, and don’t let your 17 year old be in the presence of a gun:
Firearms must be kept locked up when children may be present. The 2008 California Dangerous Weapons Control Law modified California Penal Code §12035 defining criminal storage of a firearm as keeping “any loaded firearm within any premises that are under his or her custody or control and he or she knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm.” A person may be charged with a crime, if he or she keeps a loaded firearm, and the child takes the firearm to a public place or causes injury.
Note the “may”. They don’t have to actually BE there. Just “may” be there. Someday…
So the San Bernardino shooters also violated that law as they had a kid at home. (Infants count too).
Also, be sure you do not “transfer” or “loan” a 10+ rd magazine to anyone. That’s a crime. A bit unclear is if letting them shoot your gun at the range is “loan” snd a crime, or not.
Section 32310 of the Penal Code states: “commencing January 1, 2000, any person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, buys, or receives any large-capacity magazine is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment”. Thus, the offenses listed can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor at the discretion of the prosecutor. The section continues further by explaining that: “‘manufacturing’ includes both fabricating a magazine and assembling a magazine from a combination of parts, including, but not limited to, the body, spring, follower, and floor plate or end plate, to be a fully functioning large-capacity magazine”. Until January 1, 2014, it was only a crime to “manufacture, import, keep for sale, offer or expose for sale, or give or lend any large-capacity magazine”. Assembly Bill 48 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 11, 2013 and expanded previous prohibitions by making it illegal to buy or receive a large-capacity magazine or magazine rebuild kit. Peace officers (under Penal Code Section 830) and “person licensed pursuant to [CA Penal Code] Sections 26700 to 26915” are exempt this prohibition on the purchase and sale of large-capacity magazines for personal use. However, federal law enforcement officers are not exempt and must obtain large-capacity magazines through their agency.
Can’t be letting Federal Law Enforcement buy large capacity magazines… they might hurt somebody…
Also note, that despite a State Preemption law, local cities often pass their own tighter bans, so be careful what CITY you drive through.
It is noteworthy that mere possession of a large-capacity magazine is not, in and of itself, a violation of the California Penal Code. That said, the City of Sunnyvale (Chapter 9.44 of the Sunnyvale Municipal Code) and the City and County of San Francisco (Article 9, Section 619 of the San Francisco Police Code) have enacted ordinances that make mere possession of large-capacity magazines a misdemeanor offense within their respective city limits. The Los Angeles City Council has passed a resolution stating they want to draft an ordinance similar to those in Sunnyvale and San Francisco but no actual ordinance has been passed.
So be sure to plot your course carefully avoiding every local nutcase law fanatic…
So I own a perfectly legal pre-ban magazine for one of my guns, but I can’t drive through Sunnyvale to the shooting range with it. Nor can I drive to the North Coast via Hwy 101 as it goes through San Francisco. Routing inland adds a few hours and has no view, but works. Maybe. If there are no schools 1/5 of a mile either side of the freeway…
This is just a SAMPLE of the crazy patchwork of gun laws in California. The intent is simple. Force ALL handguns and ANY gun “they” don’t like to be banned or locked up at all times. That use of “they” is not hyperbole. There is a commission that puts guns on the banned list. There really is a “they” and they really do ban what isn’t to their liking. Then layer on enough edge cases that just about anyone at just about any time can be arrested and then their guns confiscated.
Note that even in the boonies, you better have a hunting license to carry an UNLOADED gun. Say from your car to the shooting range.
Prior to January 1, 2012, it was legal to openly carry an unloaded handgun in public. In October 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that modifies the law on openly carrying an unloaded firearm to match the restrictions for openly carrying a loaded weapon.] Legislation was later signed by Governor Brown to expand these restrictions to long guns and shotguns, except while hunting.
Note that “shooting range” is not “hunting” nor is “taking to the cabin in case of bear attack” if you don’t have a hunting license. Gotta have that locked box…
California, busy protecting people from unloaded guns…
Bill 1014 that has passed the State Senate in September 2014 would allow the police to confiscate guns from high-risk individuals for a period of 21 days without a warrant or court order. On 30 September 2014, Governor Brown signed the law which is phased in through 1 January 2016. This makes California the fourth state (behind Connecticut, Indiana, and New York) to have a weapons seizure law.
It isn’t stated what makes someone “high-risk”. Perhaps not agreeing that “Global Warming” is real? Using “hate speech” like saying marriage ought to be between a man and a woman? Who knows… but at least they don’t need to get any messy due process or warrants or courts involved…
Yet despite the most draconian set of gun bans and laws around, San Bernardino still happened, and Oakland still has shootouts in the drug turfs.
Is there really any doubt that this same set of laws is “coming soon to a State (or Feds) near you”?
Or that they will be just as ineffective at stopping gun deaths?
Do not let the phrase “assault weapon” fool you.
It includes handguns, shotguns, anything with a big magazine, and more.
Just say no.