California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Lawmakers have been particularly concerned with curtailing the use of assault weapons. A little over a year ago, Senate Bill (SB) 118 expanded the definition of assault weapons.
Although the bill was passed and signed into law and technically took effect on Sept. 1, 2020, lawsuits have delayed its implementation. Now, after a California appeals court ruling blocked a federal judge’s decision in the case, it is taking effect.
What about people who legally obtained a weapon that wasn’t considered an assault weapon prior to the new law but now fits that description? What do they need to do to avoid breaking the law?
California Attorney General Rob Bonta has announced that people who legally owned those weapons before September of last year must register them with the California Department of Justice (DOJ) before Jan. 1, 2022. The weapons can be registered through the DOJ’s website.
How are assault weapons now defined?
Under the new law, assault weapons include “a semiautomatic centerfire firearm that is not a rifle, pistol, or shotgun” and:
- Has no fixed magazine but any other attribute of an assault weapon
- Has a fixed magazine that can hold over 10 rounds
- Is less than 30 inches long
California has had strict limits on the manufacture, transport, sale, possession and use of assault weapons for decades. California lawmakers continue to push for even stricter limits, while manufacturers and gun rights advocates will undoubtedly continue to fight them in court.
It can be easy for those who own and use weapons lawfully to unintentionally run afoul of changing laws. If you’re facing weapons-related charges, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to protect your rights.