What Do the New California Gun Laws Mean For You?

California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed 5 new gun control laws on Friday, July 1st.  Two of those laws (SB 880 and AB 1135) re-define “assault weapons” and their registration requirements.  In the short time since these laws have been put into place, many gun owners have been asking, “What do these laws mean? And more specifically, what do these laws mean for me as a gun owner?”  This article will answer that question.

“Assault Rifles” in California

The state of California has fought to criminalize and even eliminate the possession of AK and AR rifles for almost two decades now.  The (California) Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 defined an assault weapon as any semiautomatic rifle with a removable magazine.  The following features would also classify your weapon as an “assault rifle:”
  • Pistol grip/Forward pistol grip
  • Flash suppressor
  • Adjustable Suppressor

What do SB 880 and AB 1135 mean?

California AK and AR gun owners have been able to use a bullet button and avoid having their rifles classified as assault weapons since 2007.  Because the bullet button used a tool to drop the magazine, it would not be classified as a removable magazine, but a fixed magazine instead.  However, SB 880 and AB 1135 redefine a fixed magazine as something that can’t be removed without disassembly; because bullet buttons do not require a disassembly action, rifles with a bullet button are now classified as assault weapons.  To put it simply, all AR and AK gun owners have been using the bullet button loophole to keep our rifles legal, and the government just slammed the door on that loophole.

When do these laws go into effect?

With these laws, you will no longer be able to purchase an AR with any of the features mentioned above after January 1st, 2017.  You are required to register any gun containing those features with the California DOJ and pay the fee by January 1st, 2018.  If you do not register the gun by this date or remove the features then you are guilty of a felony.  

 Owning an “Assault Weapon”

If your gun is registered as an assault weapon, there are major restrictions on ownership and how you can transport the weapon.  You may never sell, gift or trade it to another person.  On top of that, you can never hand down an assault weapon to your children, grandchildren, spouse or other relative.  And the big kicker- if you move out of the state of California and later decide to move back, you must surrender your weapon. When you die, someone (usually a spouse or child) will have 90 days to send the gun out of state, destroy them, or turn them over to law enforcement.  If they violate this 90 day period, they have committed a felony punishable up to 1 year in county jail in addition to large fines.  So basically, when you die, your assault weapon dies with you.

How to Avoid Registering your Gun as an “Assault Weapon”

You can do one of two things to avoid registering your rifle as an assault weapon.  The first would be to install a device that would require you to disassemble the action in order to remove the magazine and reload.  Your second option would be to remove all of the above listed features from the gun.  You would have to remove the pistol grip and use a shark fin grip, which prevents you from wrapping your thumb around it.  You will also need to remove your flash suppressor and replace it with a compensator with no flash hider on the end.  If you have an adjustable carbine stock, it must be removed or pinned in place permanently.  

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