Bump stocks have essentially been illegal in California since 1990. Any person who possesses, manufactures, imports into California, offers a bump stock for sale or gives or lends one, is committing a crime in the state. But in September of 2018, the language of the existing law around bump stocks was expanded to specifically include “multiburst trigger activators,” “bump stocks” and “burst triggers” as illegal.
As of March 26, 2019, there will also be a federal regulatory ban on bump stocks and similar devices, making it a federal crime to possess one. Owners of the devices will need to turn the devices into a nearby office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) or otherwise destroy the device. The regulation identifies possible methods of destruction which must make the device incapable of being readily restored to function including melting, shredding, cutting, or crushing the device. The ATF provides instructions and detailed diagrams for destroying a bump stocks and similar devices at the ATF website: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/bump-stocks/how-to-destroy.
California Bump Stock Law Redefined
The newest law signed by Governor Brown in September, Senate Bill 1346, amended the older California ban on attachable devices that allow a firearm to shoot two or more shots in a burst to now include “multiburst trigger activators” such as:
1) A device that uses a spring, piston, or similar mechanism to push back against the recoil of a firearm, thereby moving the firearm in a back-and-forth motion and facilitating the rapid reset and activation of the trigger by a stationary finger. These devices are commonly known as bump stocks, bump fire stocks, or bump fire stock attachments.
(2) A device placed within the trigger guard of a firearm that uses a spring to push back against the recoil of the firearm causing the finger in the trigger guard to move back and forth and rapidly activate the trigger. These devices are commonly known as burst triggers.
(3) A mechanical device that activates the trigger of the firearm in rapid succession by turning a crank. These devices are commonly known as trigger cranks, gat cranks, gat triggers, or trigger actuators.
(4) Any aftermarket trigger or trigger system that, if installed, allows more than one round to be fired with a single depression of the trigger.
Penalties for Bump Stock Possession
In California a bump stock violation is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances and criminal history of the offender.
A misdemeanor possession of a bump stock is punishable by up to one year in county jail. If convicted of a felony bump stock charge it can mean a sentence of 18 months to three years in prison.
Other New California Guns Laws
Five other bills going into effect will impact gun owners:
- Assembly Bill 3129 will prohibit a person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge on or after January 1, 2019 from ever owning, purchasing, receiving possessing a fire arm, or from having the custody or control of a firearm. An offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail, a fine up to $1000 or both.
- Assembly Bill 2103 requires those who apply to purchase a firearm must complete at least 8 hours of training in safety, handling, and shooting. The new law requires a minimum of 8 hours, as opposed to the existing law of “up to 16 hours.” Applicants must demonstrate shooting proficiency and safe handling for each firearm that will be licensed for carry.
- Assembly Bill 1968 bans people who have been arrested, assessed and admitted to a hospital or mental health facility because they are a danger to themselves or others as a result of a mental health disorder; and who was previously taken into custody, assessed and admitted one or more times in a year from owning a firearm for the rest of their life. Previous law provided for a 5-year ban on owning a firearm.
- Senate Bill 1100 raises the age limit for the purchase of long guns from 18 to 21 years of age. Handgun purchase is restricted to persons 21 years or older by existing law.
- Senate Bill 1200 enhances the Gun Violence Restraining Order law by eliminating the fees for requesting a restraining order and adds ammunition and magazines to the list of firearms-related items that can be confiscated. The law requires law enforcement personnel that serve the restraining order to verbally ask the recipient if they have firearms or accessories. A gun violence restraining order issued for a 21-day period a hearing within that time frame must be held to ensure due process.
Jeremy N. Goldman is a distinguished criminal defense attorney and trial lawyer. He has an over 22-year track record of successfully defending violent crime cases, often getting charges dismissed or winning acquittals after jury trial. Call (949) 387-6670 or email us confidentially for a no-cost consultation on any criminal matter.