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Unless the state’s Supreme Court says otherwise, California is set to
increase the number of firearms banned as “assault weapons” at the end
of the month.
“Series” weapons — or copies — of originally banned “assault
Effective July 29, barring any official action from the courts,
“copycat/clone ‘series’ AK and AR-15 assault weapons cannot be offered
for sale, sold, manufactured or imported into California,” said a state
Department of Justice information bulletin obtained by WorldNetDaily.
“Additionally, such assault weapons possessed prior to July 29, 2000,
must be registered on or before December 31, 2000.”
The July 17 bulletin said state Justice officials were referring to a
state Supreme Court case, Kasler v. Lockyer, “regarding the Roberti-Roos
Assault Weapons Control Act,” or AWCA, which was passed in 1989. The
state’s high court on June 29 “issued the long awaited decision”
reversing an earlier appeals court ruling which had determined that
parts of the 1989 law were unconstitutional.
“In Kasler, the California Supreme Court” reversed the lower court’s
ruling, said the bulletin, and “upheld the constitutionality of the AWCA
in its entirety.”
The law was passed after a Jan. 17, 1989, schoolyard shooting in
Stockton, Ca., during which a 26-year-old drifter named Patrick Purdy
opened fire on 450 students with a Chinese-made semi-automatic AK-47
rifle loaded with 75 rounds. He killed five children and wounded 30
others, plus a teacher.
In the emotionally charged aftermath of the tragedy, and the
resulting frenzy to “do something” legislatively to prevent a repeat of
the incident, the label “assault weapon” — a military term defined as a
firearm capable of firing in both semi-
automatic and fully-automatic mode — was co-opted by those
favoring gun control. They succeeded, with the help of the news media,
in applying, albeit inaccurately, the intimidating term “assault weapon”
to semi-automatic firearms, especially those with large-capacity
magazines, pistol grips and other such options. California’s ban on
so-called “assault weapons” set the stage for the national legislation
According to California state law, the attorney general was given the
under the AWCA to “add-on additional weapons which are similar to those”
already listed as, and defined in, state statutes as “assault weapons.”
California Penal Codes state that “all AK series and AR-15 series
weapons are controlled assault weapons even if they are ‘older models
that are only variations, with minor differences, regardless of
manufacturer,'” the bulletin said.
During the Kasler case, which began in 1992, “Attorney General
Dan Lungren, and later Attorney General Bill Lockyer, did not use the
add-on provision to regulate other weapons, nor did the Department of
Justice identify the ‘series’ weapons listed in the” state Penal Codes.
Consequently, the bulletin said, “series weapons continued to be
manufactured [and] imported” into the state, and were then “sold,
purchased or possessed within California without regard to” the state
Last year, the Department of Justice bulletin said, the state
legislature “expanded the assault weapons definition” by adding
additional penal codes, “which identify assault weapons by
characteristics.” The state’s high court decision, the department said,
“has reaffirmed the attorney general’s authority to identify assault
weapons with both the add-on provisions” of law “and identify the
‘series’ AK and AR-15 assault weapons” currently listed in state penal
“Peace officers owning personal assault weapons are not exempt from
these requirements,” the statement said.
According to the statement, individuals who currently own lawful AK
and AR-15 series weapons must do one of the following:
- Lawfully possess the “series” “assault weapon” on or before
July 28, 2000, and register it on or before Dec. 31, 2000; or
- Lawfully possess the “series” “assault weapon” on or before July
28, 2000, and either sell or transfer the firearm via the “Dealer Record
of Sale process” on or before the same date; or
- Render the weapon permanently inoperable, sell the weapon to a
licensed dealer or remove the weapon from California.
The Department of Justice
published a list of affected
weapons that must be registered by the Dec. 31 deadline. Included are firearms made by Kalishnikov USA, American Arms, Colt’s, Armalite and Bushmaster, among others.
The Justice statement was issued to all state law enforcement agencies, firearms dealers and manufacturers, state Superior Court judges and state district attorneys.
In a meeting with California NRA members July 13, Department of Justice Firearms Division representatives explained the impact and implications of the new provisions to gun owners.
“A list of what is or is not an Assault Weapon under [the California Penal Code] will not be compiled by the Firearms Division,” Randy Rossi, Director of the California Department of Justice Firearms Division, told the Ventura County East NRA Members’ Council.
“Because we can’t see what characteristics you may have on your weapon, and because the law allows you to take on and take off those characteristics, we won’t be able to provide you with a listing of those weapons,” he said, as quoted by the
California NRA Organization. “We can’t tell if you put on a conspicuously-protruding pistol-grip or whether it’s a banana. We just can’t tell that from over the telephone.”
Rossi emphasized that the Firearms Division is available to answer questions regarding implementation of the various laws by the Firearms Division, CalNRA.org said. However, “since they do not make the laws they cannot answer questions regarding the formulation of firearms law, which is the domain of the California Legislature,” the report said.
“The California Department of Justice Firearms Division is following the same constitutional interpretation as the Federal government regarding the Second Amendment,” wrote CalNRA.org columnist Jay J. Hector. “A United States Attorney at the
Emerson appellate court
hearing in Louisiana stated the official position of the United States Government is that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution only applies to militias, and not to the people of the United States as individuals.”
CalNRA.org said Deputy Attorney General Tim Rieger made similar distinctions during the meeting.
“Since 1937, the Second Amendment, as you all know, in the United States Supreme Court case Miller, it’s been interpreted to say, let’s be fair, that the right to keep and bear arms, is not personal, but instead lies with the militias of the states,” Rieger reportedly said. “The bottom line is, Miller says that, and all cases except Emerson in the Texas District Court, have basically followed suit.”