Penal Code 30600 PC largely bans assault weapons in California. (Although a federal judge overturned this ban on June 4, 2021, it remains in effect while the state appeals the ruling.)
A question often arises under this statute on the meaning of assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles.
7.1. Penal Code 30600
Penal Code 30600 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to manufacture, distribute, transport, import, sell or give away assault weapons and BMG rifles.
This law does not apply to the possession of these weapons. Possession of these types of guns, however, is a crime under Penal Code 30605 PC.
As to possession, note that antique firearms and similar curios are exempt from this statute.
A defendant is only guilty under PC 30600 if he:
- performed an illegal act knowingly, and
- knew or reasonably should have known that the weapon involved had the characteristics of an assault weapon or .50 BMG rifle.
Note that Senate Bill 61 was signed into law in 2019. It adds two new laws with regard to assault weapons in California. The bill does the following:
- limits the purchase of these guns to one per month, and
- prohibits the sale of semi-automatic rifles to anyone under 21.
Note too that California law does allow certain qualified personnel to receive:
- a permit to manufacture these weapons, and
- then sell them to law enforcement agencies or military agencies.
This means a defendant would not be guilty under PC 30600 if he legally had one of these permits. This is provided a weapon was made, or sold to, a police officer or military department.
A violation of PC 30600 is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by:
- custody in county jail for up to eight years, or
- felony (or formal) probation.
Note that a guilty defendant will receive an additional one-year jail term if he:
- sold, or
an assault weapon or BMG rifle to a minor.
As to the possession of an assault weapon, a violation of Penal Code 30605 is a wobbler offense in California. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
- a fine of up to $1,000.
If charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to three years.
Definition of assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles
An assault weapon is a weapon that is identified as such in a California statute.
For example, Penal Code 30510 PC lists over 70 types of firearms that are all classified as assault weapons. Some of these include:
- all AK series rifles,
- Uzi submachine guns, and
- the Striker 12 shotguns.
Penal Code 30515 PC also lists some semiautomatic centerfire rifles that are considered assault weapons. Some of these are:
- Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles,
- the TAVOR Bullpup rifle, and
- the Micro-UZI submachine gun.
A .50 BMG rifle is not an assault weapon or a machine gun.
It is a centerfire rifle that can fire a .50 BMG cartridge.
A .50 BMG rifle has all of the following characteristics:
- the overall length is 5.54 inches from the base of the cartridge to the tip of the bullet,
- the bullet diameter for the cartridge is from .510 to and including .511 inch, and
- the case base diameter for the cartridge is from .800 inches to, and including, .804 inches.
M., D. (2022, March 27). California gun laws 2022 – your top 12 questions answered. Shouse Law Group. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/defense/gun-laws/