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Assault Weapons Reclassifications Effective As Of January 1, 2017

Posted by Dan Kann | Jan 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

The state of California enacted its first assault weapons act in 1989 known as the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act[1].  According to the terms of the Act, any firearm listed in California Penal Code §12276[2] constituted an assault weapon.  Further, §12276.1 of the Penal Code provides that assault weapon may also mean:   

  • semiautomatic
  • centerfire rifle with removable magazine
  • pistol grip
  • forward pistol grip
  • adjustable stock
  • flash suppressor

Commencing in 2007, California gun owners used a loophole known as a bullet button to keep their weapons from being classified as assault weapons. The work around was successful because the bullet button required a tool to drop the magazine thereby allowing the magazine to be classified as fixed rather than removable.

2017 Changes in California Law

On July 1, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown redefined assault weapons and registration requirements by signing Senate Bill 880[3] and Assembly Bill 1135. The new law, which is effective as of January 1, 2017, broadens the definition of prohibited assault weapons making California's gun laws some of the toughest in the United States. 

Senate Bill 880/Assembly Bill 1135 redefines “fixed magazine” as:

an ammunition feeding device contained in, or permanently attached to, a firearm in such a manner that the device cannot be removed without disassembly of the firearm action.”

Because a bullet button does not require disassembly, the new law closes the loophole that gun owners have used since 2007.  The newly reclassified assault weapons cannot be sold, gifted, loaned or traded even between family members. Any weapon owned before January 1, 2017, must be registered with the California Department of Justice prior to January 1, 2018, along with the payment of a small fee. Anyone convicted under the new law is guilty of a felony and can face up to one year in the county jail as well as significant fines. Many gun owners are confused about the new law and how it affects their current weapons. If you are one such owner, it is important to speak to a Ventura County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you are in full compliance with the law. 

Avoiding Classification of an Assault Weapon

If you are a California gun owner wishing to avoid the classification of an assault weapon, there are several steps that you can take:

  • Disassembly: You can install a device that requires disassembly to remove the magazine. 
  • Removal: You can remove the features that cause your weapon to be classified as an assault weapon.
  • Pistol grip: A pistol grip must be changed to a shark fin grip which prevents the thumb from wrapping around.
  • Flash hider: A flash hider must be changed to a compensator. A compensator with a flash hider should be changed to one without a flash hider.
  • Adjustable carbine stock: An adjustable carbine stock should be changed to a non-adjustable rifle stock.

These modifications must also be made if you wish for a family member or close friend to inherit your weapon upon your death. Under the terms of the new law, a California resident who inherits an assault weapon has 90 days to make the weapon inoperable, turn it over to local law enforcement or send it out of state. Any failure to do so can result in a felony charge after the ninety-day period has passed. 

Contact an Experienced Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Attorney

The new assault weapons law is confusing and could cause you or someone you know to be charged with a felony. Contact the experienced Los Angeles and Ventura criminal defense attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group today for a free consultation. Call our toll-free number 888-744-7730 today or contact us through our online contact form.


[1] Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989

[2] California Penal Code §12276

[3] Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135

About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


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