Q: Are assault weapons legal in California?
- J.N., Lomita
Answer: California has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States, but many of the laws are being challenged. Assault weapons (as listed in Penal Code Sections 12276(a), (b) and (c), 12276(e) and (f), and 12276.1) are illegal to purchase in California. Deadlines to legally register such weapons passed quite a few years ago. Penal Code Section 12280 bans the manufacturing, selling, lending and/or possession of assault weapons here. Research suggests, however, that there are legal assault-type weapons available, and that it is permissible to buy a receiver not on the list of prohibited devices, and put it together yourself in a manner that does not violate the law.
Note: I am not an expert in these regards, and naturally you should exercise great caution in evaluating your options. The California Department of Justice has helpful details and information about firearms in general, including assault weapons; search the Internet for "California Department of Justice, firearms." In addition, the Bureau of Firearms, a division of the CDOJ, has helpful brochures and guidance as well at www.ag.ca.gov/firearms.
Q: My dad has a registered assault weapon, and wants to leave it to me upon his passing. I would keep it, but want to know if doing so is lawful.
- H.B., Tarzana
A: Inheriting an assault weapon in California in the manner you describe will not pass muster.
Q: Can assault weapons still be registered? If mine is already registered, are there restrictions on its use?
- P.K., Rancho Palos Verdes
A: The CDOJ is no longer accepting assault weapon registration forms; the registration period has passed. If you have registered such a weapon, there are restrictions on your possession, which can be found in California Penal Code Section 12285. (Each of the Penal Code sections set forth in this column can readily be found online.)
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 30 years of experience. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com or write to him at Ask The Lawyer, Daily Breeze, 21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 170, Torrance, CA 90503. This column is a summary of the law and not a substitute for legal consultation on any particular case.