The latest example of California’s general incompetence when it comes to passing and enforcing laws that work is the requirement to register “bullet button assault weapons” before the end of June. Since it’s now July, you’ve probably figured out that the registration window has closed. Since this was a California law, you’ve also probably figured out that implementation has been somewhat less than smooth.
Thousands of gun owners attempted to register their firearms near the deadline, and the Hewlett-Packard 386 which runs the California DOJ gun registry was apparently not up to the task, resulting in failed or incomplete registrations. So many gun owners were unable to register their firearms that a lawsuit has been filed against the CA DOJ by pro-Second Amendment groups in California on behalf of gun owners who tried and failed to register their guns on time. These groups include the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition. When the gun owners in question called CA DOJ to explain the problems they encountered, they were told, in essence, “that’s your problem.”
The CA DOJ had already pushed back the deadline once, but there wasn’t much of an ad campaign to educate gun owners about the new requirements, from what I could see. Of course, this plays right in to the anti-gun legislators’ desires: unregistered “assault weapons” must be turned in, destroyed, or disposed of out of state. If gun owners are unable to register or were unaware of the requirement, so much the better.
One of the most puzzling requirements for the registration process also turned out to be one of the biggest hurdles: owners were required to take photos of their “bullet button assault weapons” from multiple angles and at different distances and upload these photos as part of the registration process. The potential for slow system performance related to uploading so many photos at once should have been an obvious problem, but one can safely say that this is not the first time obvious problems escaped the attention of the California legislative branch and DOJ.
The entire concept of a “bullet button” was created after California passed legislation intended to ban rifles with detachable magazines. Instead, the bullet button was invented to make ARs and other semi-auto rifles legal under California law. Why the government of California thinks it’s been more successful this time around, or that its efforts will not be defeated by industrious folks who like firearms and can read and interpret dumb laws, is a real mystery.
In the meantime, not a few gun owners in California are currently wondering if they’ll become convicted felons when their “failure to register” becomes obvious to the CA DOJ. California has teams of law enforcement officers using gun registration data and lists of prohibited possessors, using extremely stringent requirements such as an out of state DUI as a reason to prevent someone from owning guns, to make home visits and confiscate guns from people. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for California gun owners – who’ve complied with previous gun registration schemes but didn’t make the deadline this time around – to soon hear a knock at their door and find a team of officers demanding the surrender of their heretofore legally owned rifles.
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