The new “Assault Weapon” classification in Cali
Since the Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989, California has defined an “assault weapon” as any semiautomatic center fire rifle with a removable magazine PLUS any of the following “evil features:”
- Pistol grip
- Forward pistol grip
- Adjustable stock
- Flash suppressor/ flash hider
When does this go into effect?
You may not purchase an AR with any of the evil features or a stripped lower that will contain evil features after January 1, 2017. You must register any gun with evil features with the Cal DOJ and pay the fee before January 1, 2018. If you do not register the gun or remove the features, you are guilty of a felony.
Since 2007, California AR and AK owners have been able to use a bullet button to avoid the classification of an “assault weapon.” Since the bullet button required a tool to drop the mag, it did not qualify as a “removable magazine.” Instead it was considered to be a “fixed magazine.” Since the rifle had a “fixed magazine,” it was not an assault weapon. SB 880/ AB 1135 redefine a “fixed magazine” to be something that “cannot be removed without disassembly of the firearm action.” Since bullet buttons don’t require the disassembly of the firearm action, even a rifle with a bullet button installed is now an “assault weapon.” Rifles with a bullet button are now considered to have a “removable magazine,” not a “fixed magazine.” Basically, the government just closed a loophole of a “bullet button.” However, you can install a New Bullet Button Device, see below, that would prevent your rifle to be classified as an “assault weapon.”
Can I avoid registering my gun as an “assault weapon”?
Yes! You can do either of two things to your gun to avoid the classification of “assault weapon.” You do not need to do both, just one.
First, You can install a device that requires you to disassemble the action in order to remove the mag/ reload. Not very fun to shoot, but it will work. Darin Prince up at North County Firearms in San Marcos has invented just such a device. The Bullet Button Reloaded breaks the gun open at the pivot pin to drop the mag. By breaking open the action, it counts as "disassembly of the firearm action" as the weapon cannot fire with this configuration.
This is another link that a client sent to us that will make your rifle as NOT an "assault weapon" - and it still looks "sweet." Click here to review ARMagLock
Second, You can remove all evil features from your gun. You’ll have to use a “shark fin” grip instead of a pistol grip. This is a grip that prevents your thumb from wrapping around the grip. If you have a flash hider, you will need to replace it with a compensator. Or you can use a target crown barrel that does not require any suppressors. Your adjustable carbine stock must be replaced with a non-adjustable rifle stock or permanently pinned in place. You cannot have a forward grip. If you remove all of the evil features from your gun, then you can have a standard mag release. No more bullet buttons if you go this route.
What does “Featureless” mean?
Featureless means no evil features. See the paragraph above. If you have a featureless rifle then you do not need to register it as an “assault weapon.” However, after January 1, 2018 a featureless rifle can never again be turned back into a rife that contains any of the evil features. Once featureless, the rifle is forever featureless. The benefit of going Featureless route is that you get to use your standard magazine release once more.
What About AR Pistols?
As of now, you can make an AR pistol compliant with the new law only by using a crack action bullet button as described above to avoid registration. However, with that, you can use ALL AR style features available.
What about 80% Lowers?
Your AR rifle or AR pistol built on an 80% is an “assault weapon” if it contains any of the evil features described above. You can continue making AR rifles and pistols under the current laws until Jan 1, 2017. AFTER that date, you can only make featureless AR rifles or AR Rifles and Pistols with new magazine locks. (Under new law there is no way to make an AR Pistol Featureless as they fall under different regulations). If you wish to keep those evil features on your gun, then you are required to serialize it and register it with the Cal DOJ before January 1, 2018. If you make it featureless, then you are fine. Since your AR Pistol is an 80%, you can also rebuild it into a featureless AR Rifle. Please keep in mind you need at least a 16" barrel to avoid becoming an SBR.
Can I still purchase stripped lowers after January 1, 2017?
Yes. You can still purchase stripped lowers after January 1, 2017, however, they must NEVER have an evil feature attached to them. All lowers and rifles purchased after January 1, 2017 MUST be built as featureless rifles.