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The Department of Justice (hereafter the [email protected]) has received
numerous contacts from the public and firearms industry personnel
regarding the legality of various AR-15/AK 47 "series" style firearms
that have not yet been identified as [email protected] assault weapons by the
Department. The Department is also aware of the recent high volume of
sales of these firearms.
The Department has the statutory authority to identify [email protected]
assault weapons. In 2000, the California Supreme Court upheld that
authority in Kasler v. Lockyer (2000) 23 Cal. 4th 472. The Department
updated the list of "series" weapons in 2000 (as ACategory [email protected] assault
weapons), shortly after the Kasler decision. The registration period
for Category 2 weapons ended on December 31, 2000.
The California Supreme Court reiterated in 2003 that Athe Attorney
General has the authority to determine that certain semiautomatic
firearms are assault weapons by simply identifying them as such in
the list published by the Attorney General in the California Code of
RegulationsYtwo types of firearms defined in section 12276 by the use
of the term series, namely the AK-47 series and the Colt AR-15
[email protected] Harrott v. County of Kings (2003) 25 Cal. 4th 1138, 1155.
Accordingly, the Department is currently in the process of
identifying those firearms in the state which are variations, with
minor differences, of AR-15/AK 47 "series" weapons. Once this process
is complete, the Department will promulgate a list and file it with
the Secretary of State=s office. Concurrently, the Department will
begin updating the Assault Weapon Identification Guide which is
currently available via the Department=s web-site at
firearms/forms/index.html. Once the list of newly identified [email protected]
weapons is filed with the Secretary of State, citizens who possess
those weapons will have 90 days to register them with the Department
of Justice.

Newly identified [email protected] weapons cannot legally have the features
listed in Penal Code 12276.1 when they are registered. Those features
cannot legally be added after the firearms are registered as assault
weapons. The Penal Code 12276.1 features have been banned since
January 1, 2000, when SB 23 went into effect. The public was notified
of the prohibition on the specified features many years ago.
Page Two

The registration period for assault weapons with those
characteristics (Category 3 assault weapons) ended on December 31,
2000. Because non-"series" assault weapons with 12276.1 features may
not be offered for sale, manufactured, imported, or possessed in
California, it follows that newly registered "series" weapons may not
have the features listed in Penal Code 12276.1, either.
The prohibition on the features listed in Penal Code section 12276.1
is consistent with current DOJ policy that named [email protected] weapons are
illegal, unless registered, regardless of whether they have the
12276.1 features. It is also consistent with the intent of the
California state legislature to ban assault weapons, expressed in
1991 when Penal Code 12276(f) was enacted.
This section is declaratory of existing law, as amended, and a
clarification of the law and the Legislature=s intent which bans the
weapons enumerated in this section, the weapons included in Section
12276.5, and any other models which are only minor variations of
those weapons with minor differences, regardless of the manufacturer
[emphasis added].
It should be noted that individuals who timely registered ACategory
[email protected] and ACategory [email protected] assault weapons were allowed to keep or add the
12276.1 features on their firearms. Those generic features were not
illegal during the registration period for Category 1 assault
weapons. In August of 2000, when the Department identified the
Category 2 [email protected] weapons, it was legal to register weapons with
those characteristics as Category 3 assault weapons. Firearms with
those features could no longer be registered as of January 1, 2001.
Therefore, newly identified [email protected] (Category 4) weapons likewise
cannot have those features.

Registrants of newly identified series weapons cannot legally add
Penal Code section 12276.1 features to those firearms. The Department
intends to enforce this restriction through the assault weapon
registration process. Registration acknowledgment letters will
include an admonition to registrants that adding prohibited features
to newly registered assault weapons will invalidate registration. The
basis for valid registration will rest solely on the fact that the
Department identifies the receivers for these firearms as variations,
with minor differences, of already controlled AR-15/AK 47 [email protected]
weapons. All additional features of the newly identified "series"
weapons must conform with current California law.

Firearm manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers who misinform the
public about the ability to legally add prohibited features to these
newly listed firearms risk criminal prosecution. They could also face
civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation under the state=s
Unfair Practices Act (California Business & Professions Code section
17000 et seq.).

This information will be distributed to criminal justice agencies
throughout the state, as well as to firearm dealers listed on the
Department's Centralized List, via the formal Information Bulletin
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