Coping With California’s Six New Gun and Magazine Ban Laws

This year’s Independence Day celebrations have been muted by news of the enactment of six tyrannical new gun, ammunition, and magazine laws in California.

California’s leftist legislature in now crowing about how they “did something” in response to the Islamic terror attack in San Bernadino last year. Six of 10 new “Gunmeggddon” laws that they passed were just signed into law by Democrat Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown.

Courtesy of the NRA-ILA, here is a summary of Governor Brown’s actions:

SIGNED BOTHAssembly Bill 1135 and Senate Bill 880 will make changes of monumental scale to California’s firearm laws by reclassifying hundreds of thousands of legally owned semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons”. This legislation effectively outlaws magazine locking devices, more commonly known as “bullet buttons”. These are constitutionally protected firearms that have no association with crime. These changes would happen quickly with great individual costs to many gun owners and without public notice. Governor Brown vetoed similar legislation in 2013.

SIGNED Assembly Bill 1511 effectively ends the long-standing practice of temporarily loaning a firearm for lawful purposes. Under this legislation, the ability to loan a firearm to anyone other than a family member would now be prohibited unless conducted through a dealer, absent very narrow and limited exceptions. A simple loan to a trusted friend for a few days would take almost a month to complete from loan to return, requiring two background checks, two 10-day waiting periods, two fees, and multiple trips to a gun dealer. The result of the misguided legislation will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals simply for borrowing or storing a firearm with a friend.

VETOEDAssembly Bill 1673 would have expanded the definition of “firearm” to include unfinished frames and/or receivers that are “clearly identifiable as being used exclusively as part of a functional weapon”. Depending on how this vague terminology is interpreted, AB 1673 would have treated pieces of metal as firearms, subjecting them to California’s exhaustive regulations and restrictions currently applicable to firearms.

VETOEDAssembly Bill 1674 would have expanded the existing one handgun a month law to include ALL guns, including those acquired through a private party transfer. AB 1674 will have no impact on criminal access to firearms and instead significantly hamper law abiding individuals, causing increased costs, time and paperwork to purchase multiple firearms. Criminals will continue to ignore this law purchasing firearms illegally, ignoring this burdensome and ineffective restriction.

SIGNEDAssembly Bill 1695 will create a 10-year firearm prohibition for someone convicted of falsely reporting a lost or stolen firearm. The NRA does not oppose making it a misdemeanor to knowingly file a false lost or stolen report to law enforcement. Our reason for opposition is related to the restriction of a constitutional right for the conviction of a misdemeanor offense.

VETOEDAssembly Bill 2607 would have expanded the class of individuals who could seek a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO).” The NRA opposes the current GVRO procedures because they provide a mechanism for an individual to lose the right to keep and bear arms with no due process of law. AB 2607 would compound these problems by significantly expanding the classes of individuals who could seek a GVRO. This expansion would now include employers, coworkers, mental health workers, and employees of secondary and post-secondary schools.

VETOEDSenate Bill 894 would have required a victim of a crime to report to local Law Enforcement the theft of a firearm within an arbitrary time requirement of five days and the recovery of the firearm within 48 hours. Governor Brown has twice vetoed similar legislation stating, “I was not convinced that criminalizing the failure to report a lost or stolen firearm would improve identification of gun traffickers or help law enforcement disarm people prohibited from possessing guns. I continue to believe that responsible people report the loss or theft of a firearm and irresponsible people do not.

SIGNEDSenate Bill 1235 will place unjustified and burdensome restrictions on the purchase of ammunition and would require the attorney general to keep records of purchases. This legislation would further require any online ammunition sales to be conducted through a licensed vendor. First and foremost, the reporting of ammunition sales has already been tried – and failed – at the federal level. Throughout the 1980s, Congress considered repeal of a federal ammunition regulation package that required, among other things, reporting of ammunition sales. In 1986, the director of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms supported eliminating the reporting requirement, stating: “The Bureau and the [Treasury] Department have recognized that current record keeping requirements for ammunition have no substantial law enforcement value.” As a result, the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 repealed the ammunition restrictions, with little opposition to the removal of that requirement. SB 1235 will similarly fail to reduce violent crime, as a law requiring the registration of ammunition purchases by honest citizens will not deter criminals. Governor Brown has twice vetoed similar legislation.

SIGNEDSenate Bill 1446 bans the simple possession of ammunition feeding devices/magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 cartridges. The federal “large-ammunition feeding device” ban of 1994-2004 was allowed to sunset due in part to its ineffectiveness. Yet, California anti-gun legislators still are persisting with this ban knowing that the congressionally-mandated study concluded that “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders” before the ban and the bans 10-round limit on new magazines was not a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes.

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Hundreds of thousands of guns that were previously legal will become contraband. Magazines numbering at least in the hundreds of thousands and probably in the millions will become contraband, with hefty fines for possession. (See: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/15-16/bill/sen/sb_1401-1450/sb_1446_bill_20160701_chaptered.htm) Also, ammunition sales will be sharply curtailed, with background check requirements and registration of purchases! This is clearly collective insanity, but it is becoming the law of the land in the People’s Republic of California.

The Ammo Sales/Purchase Bans

California’s new ammunition purchase restrictions (Senate Bill 1235) are complicated, and part of the new law hinges on the outcome of a November ballot initiative. See: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB1235. If it goes fully into effect, then:

Variously starting either on January 1, 2018, or January 1, 2019, (under penalty of a $1,000 fine):

  • Mail order or Internet purchases from out of state will be banned unless it is delivered by an in-state dealer, with a background check.
  • Transport of ammunition bought out of state will be banned, with an exception of just 50 rounds under some circumstances.
  • Only a licensed ammunition vendor will be be able to sell ammunition.
  • Background checks and a permanent registry record will be required for in-state ammunition purchases.

The absurdity of creating a registry for an expendable commodity was apparently lost on California’s idiotic legislators.

Note: There will be huge loopholes in the law for law enforcement, for the privileged few who hold concealed carry permits in California, and for anyone who is moving into the state. But the net effect is that the cost of buying ammunition in California will probably skyrocket (since the competitive pricing of nationwide sales choices will be gone), and sales will become tracked to the buyer.

Since the database of ammo purchases is cumulative, shooters who expend large quantities of ammunition (such as competitive target shooters) will likely become increasingly suspect, making it appear that they are stockpiling ammo that they are actually expending on the range.

The new law is silent on any restrictions on components for handloaders, but presumably anyone who “manufactures” (assembles) ammunition would fall under some sections of the law.

The Dreaded Magazine Ban: Senate Bill No. 1446

California’s new magazine ban (Senate Bill 1446) goes into effect on July 1, 2017. The law quite bluntly demands:

(c) A person who, prior to July 1, 2017, legally possesses a large-capacity magazine shall dispose of that magazine by any of the following means:

(1) Remove the large-capacity magazine from the state.

(2) Prior to July 1, 2017, sell the large-capacity magazine to a licensed firearms dealer.

(3) Destroy the large-capacity magazine.

(4) Surrender the large-capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction.

Note: There are some exceptions for law enforcement agencies, currently-serving officers, retired officers, museums, movie prop companies, and the executors of wills or trustees settling estates. But otherwise, this is a “blanket” ban with no grandfather clause. As such, this ban will likely be challenged in the courts as a “taking” without compensation.

One oddity is that the new law is silent about belted or linked ammunition for belt-fed guns, but based on existing magazine restrictions in California, it is safe to assume that belts holding 11+ rounds could no longer be possessed. (This might have to be clarified by the courts.)

The fines start at $100 for the first offense, $250 for the 2nd offense, and $500 for the 3rd or subsequent offense. So a forgotten box of magazines in the back of a closet could potentially become a very expensive thing! Thankfully, violations of this law are considered infractions.

Your Response to the New Laws: Voting With Your Feet!

If you live in California, then I recommend that you immediately make plans to relocate your family to a more firearms-friendly state, and do so before 2017. Vote with your feet, folks! Relocating will serve two purposes: 1) It will maintain your firearms freedom, and 2) It will remove you from the California tax rolls, depriving the state of your revenue. (Starve the beast!)

If for some reason you cannot leave California before the new laws go into effect, then at least make arrangements with an out-state friend, a FFL, or a storage company to get your banned guns and magazines out of the State before the various effective dates of the new laws. But regardless, do not make the mistake of turning in your magazines in to the police “for destruction”. (Odds are, since the police are exempt from the law, some officers will simply take many of the surrendered magazines home for their own use or re-sell them out of state for a profit.)

The wording of SB 880 an AB 1135 are incredibly convoluted and require careful study. But most of their terms go into effect on January 1, 2017. That is the key date to remember and plan for.

A Limited Boycott

California’s misguided legislators need to get the message: Anti-gun owner tyranny is not unacceptable! I recommend that we institute a limited boycott of California. Those of us living in other states should NOT schedule or attend any conferences or conventions in California. Also, limit your vacation travel to California as much as possible. But please don’t boycott produce from California, since California’s rural and largely conservative fruit, vegetable, and nut growers don’t deserve to be punished for something that was not their doing! Please also continue to do business with California’s gun-related companies, but encourage them to relocate to a free state.

A Helping Hand

Sadly, California is now a legislative lost cause. The voices of its rural gun-owning minority have been drowned out by the statist/leftist urban majority. The chances of Californians salvaging their liberty is slim. Writing letters to your assemblymen in Sacramento or to the editor of your local newspaper just won’t work. You will be ignored. Firearms freedom is now just about dead in California, and the six newly-enacted gun laws were simply the last nails in the coffin lid. Face it, folks: The time has come to flee the tyranny.

Those of us living in free states should now do our best to help Californians escape the anti-gun tyrants. Please first help California’s gun law refugees store their banned guns and magazines, and then help the refugees get re-settled, to find jobs, make a fresh start, and feel welcome. That is the least we can do for them. – JWR

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