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California Assault Rifle Registration

We’re past July 1, 2018 and the California assault weapon registration program is over.  If you have your assault weapon here in California and didn’t register it, you are now in in violation of a felony per 30900(b) PC.  Note that this is a California law and doesn’t apply to other states.

First, let’s define what rifles we’re talking about.  Please note that this articles only talks about modern bullet-button assault rifles like the AR-15, AR-10, AK-47 etc., not those sold prior to January 1, 2001.  Also, we’re not talking about assault pistols or shotguns, that’s a future topic not covered here.  These “bullet button” rifles are defined under 30515(a) PC as follows:

"A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one of the following:
1)  A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
2)  A thumbhole stock.
3)  A folding or telescoping stock.
4)  A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
5)  A flash suppressor.
6)  A forward pistol grip.

A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.”
(Taken from https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/bullet-button-assault-weapon).

The next question that always comes up is, “But I already registered that rifle during the 10-day wait when I bought it.”  That’s true, but it was registered as a “rifle”, not as an “assault weapon.”  On January 1, 2017, your AR was redefined as an “assault weapon” and you could no longer buy one here in California.  By law, you had until June 30, 2018 to register your AR as an “assault weapon.”

So if you missed the registration deadline, what do you do now?  Some options are as follows:

1)  Surrender your assault weapon to local or state law enforcement for destruction.  Be aware this is an assault weapon and you cannot loan it out, give it to another family member, sell it here in California, etc.  Naturally you should disassemble the gun before turning it in.
2)  Modify the weapon so it operates with a “fixed magazine” that can accept no more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  There are several devices that do this, just go to any gun show.  Note that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has not sanctioned any of these devices as legal.
3)  Modify the weapon so it has none of the features listed above that define it as an assault weapon.  Items such as a pistol grip, thumbhole stock, flash suppressor, etc.  See definition above.   One solution I’ve used is the Thordsen Custom stock & muzzle brake, but note again that the California DOJ has not sanctioned this stock as legal.
4)  If you’re a resident of another state and your assault weapon is legal there, you can take it there.  Be sure to disassemble the gun before you transport it out of California.
5)  You could sell off all of the parts on your gun that don’t have a serial number and then turn in the stripped receiver to law enforcement for destruction.
6)  You could sell the gun out-of-state, but be certain that the gun is shipped by a California FFL to a FFL holder in that state and that it’s legal there.  The California FFL should have an assault weapon permit to ship it legally.

Are you confused yet? 

The one thing I’m certain of is that doing nothing is not an option.  I hear some people say they’ll just hide it in their safe or the back of their closet.  What if there’s a domestic violence incident in your house and the police have to remove all guns from your house.  That could be a problem.  I hear others say they’ll hide the gun in their car trunk when going to the range.  What if you’re in a traffic collision and while you’re being transported to the hospital, the police have to do an inventory of your car’s contents before towing it to the yard.  Possession of an assault weapon is a felony.  Why take the chance.

I’m hoping that California will offer an amnesty program in the near future so that people can register them legally.  This article is a simplified interpretation of the new laws and there are several issues I have not covered for the sake of clarity.  It’s a complicated topic and I may not agree with it, but it’s the law and I for one need to be on the legal side of it.  There’s a lot more information available through the NRA and California DOJ web sites.

Disclaimer: This information has been prepared for general information purposes only.  I am not an attorney and I cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy, or currency of this information.  The information contained herein is not legal advice, should not to be acted on as such, is subject to change without notice and may not be current.  Users of this information do so at their own risk. I tried to cover all basis, but this is a complicated topic and your individual facts and circumstances may alter the conclusion(s) drawn. For legal advice consult an attorney.  Good luck.