Sec 12280 of the California Penal Code has instituted a ban on the manufacture, sale, lending and/or possession of assault weapons, Browning machine gun rifles and their like except in very specific circumstances.

The crime is committed when the following elements are present in the case:

• The individual accused has manufactured, distributed, transported, imported, sold/gave/lent and/or possessed an assault weapon or a 0.50 caliber Browning Machine Gun rifle;
• The individual had full knowledge of such weapons and/or materials;
• The individual knew that the weapons have the specific characteristics of an assault weapon or 0.50 BMG rifle;

By definition of the California Attorney General, the assault weapon is considered as “highly offensive weapons which are unambiguously hazardous and are of the same type as what soldiers use when fighting a war.” The California Penal Code, particularly Sec 12276, lists over fifty (50) types of rifles, pistols and shotguns classified as assault weapons. These are as follows:

• All AK series rifles (Anton Kalashnikov Russian made gas powered weapons);
• All UZIs (short barreled Israeli made assault weapons);
• The Striker 12 shotgun;

Sec 12276.1 of the California Penal Code also lists an additional number of semi automatic rifles considered as assault weapons. These are as follows:

• Semiautomatic, centerfire rifles that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than ten (10) rounds;
• Semiautomatic, centerfire rifles with an overall length of less than thirty (30) inches barrel length;
• Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder for bullets.

There are exclusions though to the coverage under the ban imposed by the law. These include:

• Antique firearms or those firearms manufactured before January 1, 1899;
• Eighteen specifically designed pistols used for Olympic target shooting events;

The Browning Machine Gun is not an assault weapon per se but is actually a machinegun. It is a center fire rifle that can fire a .50 caliber cartridge with the following characteristics:

• The overall length of the cartridge is 5.54 inches from base to tip of the bullet;
• The bullet diameter is .510 to .510 inches;
• The center base diameter of the cartridge is .800 to .804 inches.

As defined by the law, there are specific exemptions allowed y the law, which are as follows:

• Transaction involving law enforcement agencies;
• Lawful possession of such a weapon before the ban was imposed by law which is prior to January 1,2005 and specific timeframes prior to May 1, 2006;
• Individuals who hold permits to possess or manufacture assault weapons or .50 BMG rifles;
• Executors or administrators of estates holding such firearms;
• Certain activities involving target shooting and/or law enforcement approved firearm exhibitions;
• Non-California residents traveling to/from an organized competition involving the use of the assault weapon;

The penalties imposable for the illegal manufacture, distribution, transportation, sale or lending of assault weapons or .50 BMG rifles can be punishable of up to eight (8) years in state penitentiary for each illegal weapon involved in the transaction. If the transaction involved a minor, then an additional and consecutive one year is added to the prison sentence for each weapon found.

The crime of possessing assault weapons and/or rifles is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.