California Rifle Sales – What Gives in the Golden State?
GUEST POST FROM SAM BOCETTA
Why have California gun dealers submitted fifty-four percent fewer government applications for rifles in 2017 compared to those submitted in 2016? Back in July, firearms dealers submitted a mere 21,721 applications to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This was in stark contrast to last year’s 48,000 applications.
We already know that California is a gun-restrictive state, but it would seem that recent gun control efforts are having a devastating effect on the sale of long guns. And if we take a closer look at the political climate of 2017, it’s clear to see why.
Between Governor Jerry Brown’s SB 880 gun control legislation, a bill that was written as a knee-jerk reaction to the San Bernardino shootings, and the state Department of Justice’s proposed ban on assault weapons, many people are too afraid to purchase firearms at this time.
Governor Brown’s SB 880 mandated that new rifles with bullet buttons and removable mags were strictly verboten. Consequently, those purchasing AR-15s prior to January 1, 2017 either had to register them as California assault weapons, have them customized to have fixed mags or reconfigured to be California compliant.
For many avid gun enthusiasts, this wasn’t a problem. They attacked the issue head-on by building their own featureless AR-15s. But for lots of hesitant parties looking at the current political landscape, it seems like now is not the time to be buying long guns.
What they may not realize is that California extended the registration window, moving the deadline to July of 2018 for those seeking to register their bullet button rifles as California assault weapons.
And for those who don’t want to register, luckily there are a couple of companies out there who are coming out with workaround systems that circumvent the current restrictions. Mean Arms is one such company. Their polymer MA loader/Lock system can convert your AR into a fixed mag rifle that is loaded by way of a ten-round side-charging stripped clip.
The MA loader slips into your gun’s ejector port and you just press the thumb-ring slider to load your weapon.
Other companies have introduced similar stripper clip systems such as side feeders and more, all of which give you functionality while still operating within the parameters of the law.
Additionally, California regulators (Office of Administrative Law – OAL) rejected preliminary proposals on assault weapons which were submitted by Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The prevailing assumption was that the OAL believed Becerra had sharply overstepped his authority in pursuit of the new rules and overtly failed to open the subject up to the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, the OAL ultimately approved the very same rules, with no public comment.
In response to a lawsuit challenging these regulations, US District Judge Roger Benitez blocked a law that sought to forbid gun owners from possessing high-capacity ammo magazines, saying that it would have given responsible citizens an unsound choice: “Become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property.”
Judge Benitez made no bones about the fact that the law in question would’ve been lawless and irresponsible in its execution, adding, “The regulation is neither presumptively legal nor longstanding. The statute hits close to the core of the Second Amendment and is more than a slight burden.
“When the simple test of Heller is applied, a test that persons of common intelligence can understand, the statute is adjudged an unconstitutional abridgement.”
This is a big victory as the ban would have made it mandatory for gun owners to get rid of their mags by sending them out of state for alteration, alterations that would have limited them to a ten-round capacity. And for those who would have refused to make such alterations, the law would’ve called for them to be turned into law enforcement or outright destroyed.
What has made this situation even more confounding is that In November 2016, California voters positively responded to an initiative that virtually mirrored the ban, as it included almost the same language as the anti-gun bills passed by the Legislature earlier that year.
Despite the slouch in rifle sales, it’s obvious that there has been some progress made for gun advocacy. An amendment to of the gun control bill SB 497 was pushed through at the eleventh hour, effectively quashing an intended regulation that would have limited Californians to purchasing only one gun of any kind per month.
Gun laws will always be a hot topic on the Campaign Trail, but what politicians need to understand, and which most of you probably already realize, is that the world is a dangerous place. After the natural disasters of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we were faced once more with the dark side of the human spirit. Lootings and riots have become a part of our daily lives.
The answer is not to strip law-abiding citizens of their right to protect themselves and their loved ones against the onslaught of home invasions, lootings and acts of terrorism but to educate the public on how to own, operate, store and maintain firearms.
Instead of outlawing guns, politicians should be doing their part to impress upon their constituents the importance of owning gun safes, gun cleaning kits, eye protection, and other tools that will enable them to live safely, securely and responsibly.