Turning The Law-Abiding Into Felons, California Style
July 1, 2018 is a date many California firearm owners are dreading. It is the date when all so-called “bullet button assault weapons” must be registered with the State in order to be legally retained. There are options, but none are ideal and each, including registration, brings with it potential negative legal consequences. And the worst part about it is none of this will do anything to prevent crime or make anyone safer since it only impacts the law-abiding firearm owner and not actual criminals.
Of course, the whole “assault weapon” thing is a farce. Believing a firearm with so-called “evil features” is more deadly than the exact same rifle without the “evil features” is moronic at best. It is merely a way to classify a group of firearms that can be easily banned.
Enter California’s “assault weapon” classification. Defining a list of firearms that are too deadly for civilians to buy or sell. But if you already owned one, you could keep it as long as you registered it and agreed to a whole new set of storage and transportation restrictions and the inability to pass the firearm on to your descendants.
The original list — Category 1 assault weapons — from the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 named specific makes and models. But as manufacturers made different models, the state adapted and Category 2 named the entire AK and AR-15 series. When that didn’t stop people from owning firearms, Category 3 then distinguished those dreaded “evil features” like an adjustable stock, flash suppressor or pistol grip, again… all features California contends do nothing but turn an ordinary rifle with a detachable magazine into a killing machine.
In response, ingenious designers came up with the despicable and rightfully mocked bullet button, a way to ensure the firearm met the letter of the law and did not allow a magazine to be detached without the use of a tool, such as the tip of a bullet. But the state AGAIN expanded the definition of “assault weapon” by claiming the bullet button allowed rapid magazine changes, even though it was a legally recognized firearm in the state.
Once again registration is required if you already own one of these newly defined “bullet button assault weapons”, of course with additional restrictions including not being able to take the bullet button off and treat it like a Category 1 or 2 “assault weapon”.
Law abiding firearm owners do have options to avoid this new “assault weapon” registration including going featureless, converting from centerfire to rimfire, using a fixed magazine or adding one of the latest mechanical abominations that will only allow a magazine to be removed when the top of a two part firearm is separated, a.k.a. a break-top device or just separating the top and bottom and/or removing critical parts and never assembling them again. None of these options are ideal and all have issues.
But, what if you just do the right thing and register your “bullet button assault weapon” with the state, you’re good right? I mean after all, you’ve followed the law and registered so you can keep your firearm. Not necessarily.
The latest “assault weapon” law was so poorly and so broadly written, with the Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms (DOJ BOF) adding their own byzantine administrative rules greatly expanding on the actual law that it is nearly impossible for a lay person to understand and comply. So complex and conflicting, even the legal interpretations of the state’s best firearm defense lawyers are conflicting.
So where do you turn for help? You would think the DOJ BOF, the people who actually wrote and implemented this law would be the definitive resource. For people who have miraculously managed to speak to someone at the DOJ BOF, the responses have been conflicting. One will say one thing and the next will say something completely different. The DOJ BOF’s official response may be found on their website in the FAQ section.
“If you are unable to find a law on your own, then we suggest you consult with a private attorney. Our office cannot provide legal advice, analysis or research to parties other than state officers and agencies”.
Allow me to translate that for you. We will only help the people trying to prosecute you for violations of the law, not help you NOT violate the law.
In the past several months there have been a number of individuals who have made good faith efforts to register their newly defined California “assault weapons” but for one reason or another, made a mistake on one of the finer points of the law.
How has the State of California responded? With heavily armed SWAT teams and search warrants. The DOJ BOF’s enforcement teams, charged with removing firearms from people who have been disqualified from owning firearms in the state — a list of over 10,000 and growing by thousands each year — are springing into action. So anxious are they to arrest these people who voluntarily registered their newly defined “assault weapons” but made a minor technical mistake, they are willing to ignore the actual, adjudicated criminals with violent records in favor of creating a whole new class of felons.
As troubling as all this is, one of the reports (admittedly still unverified) about a search is even more disturbing. DOJ BOF agents declaring a firearm with a magazine that could only be removed when the top section is opened — as required by law — as an illegal “assault weapon” because it now had a non-fixed magazine.
So what do you do? There is no easy answer. CRPA (California Rifle and Pistol Association) and numerous clubs and organizations around the state have been putting out the best information they have at the time to help you decide what is best for you. And while I am not an attorney and in no way, shape or form ever offering any kind of legal advise — if you do nothing else until you decide on your best option — disassemble and separate the parts of anything you may suspect is even close to a potentially questionable configuration.
And never forget that registration only leads to confiscation. California gun control zealots have repeatedly called for confiscation of the approximately 50,000 “assault weapons” from the original registration list. The addition of the so-called “bullet button assault weapons” will only add to that number to be confiscated at a later date.
July 1stwill be a truly shameful day for California. Thousands upon thousands of the most conscientious, safe and law-abiding firearm owners are being put in legal jeopardy because the state is using purposely confusing laws and administrative rules to declare them the greatest threat to society instead of arresting, convicting and incarcerating the ACTUAL criminals that make us all unsafe.
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