DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WITHDRAWS PROPOSED REGULATIONS

On Friday, February 10, the “Bullet Button Assault Weapons” regulations which were submitted by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) were withdrawn.

As GOC reported last month, the new regulations (required to implement the bills signed by Governor Brown last summer) DOJ tried to expand an Assault Weapon definition by stating if an individual registered a “Bullet Button” gun as a California Assault Weapon, they would not be allowed to replace the bullet button with a standard magazine release button.  This action – which was made in the waning hours of 2016 – fell far outside the Department’s legal authority in GOC’s opinion. (to read more on this, click here).

These regulations, however, were “withdrawn”  last week. What does this mean?

Although we wish it meant that the ill-conceived bills (Assembly Bill 1135 and Senate Bill 880) have been repealed, this is not the case.  It simply means that the underlying regulations (the details of how the statute will actually be implemented) on the ban/sale or transfer of “Bullet Button Assault Weapons” have been pulled back, and that new regulations will likely be forthcoming.  At this point, however, there are no specifics available regarding the timing or content. That said, the requirement for all legally possessed “Bullet Button Assault Weapons” to be registered before January 1, 2018 stands – regardless of how uncertain the process will be.  We are confident there will be no changes made in the deadline established by the legislation.

Given the utter contempt that the DOJ has for the law-abiding gun owners in the state, it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if they decided to go down the “emergency” path, rather than follow the “regular” process for issuance of new rules.  Any regulations by a state agency must be submitted to and approved by the Office of Administrative Law.

According to the OAL, the “regular” process requires very specific public hearing and notice requirements to be met, but the “emergency” process is different, in that it provides for a much shorter period of public notice and comment. This process is only to be used when a situation comes up that calls for “immediate action to avoid serious harm to the public peace, health, safety, or general welfare.” (Government Code section 11342.545.) For an emergency regulation to be approved, an emergency must be shown to exist.

Of course, the Department of Justice’s definition of an “emergency” is far different than ours.

The DOJ is no stranger to issuing “emergency regulations” because they were hard at it in December.  It was the Friday night before Christmas when they laid down brand new “emergency” rules on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.  They very effectively muzzled public comment because on December 23, most of us were enjoying friends, family and some eggnog. Maybe the Department thought a holiday directive would somehow assist with “public peace” but all it did was swiftly ignite a fire under pro-gun Californians and on December 30, the regulations were withdrawn.

Now, given Friday night’s withdrawal of “bullet button assault weapon” regulations, we could very well face the following scenarios in the coming weeks and months:

  1. The Department will issue “emergency” regulations.
  2. The Department will issue full regulations under the routine “regular” process.
  3. Attorney General Xavier Becerra will forgo development of regulations and sponsor legislation to legally ban semi-automatic weapons (reintroduction of AB 1664 – 2016/Levine).
  4. The Department will delay regulations to evaluate and undermine (AKA prohibit) new technologies currently under development in order to comply with the law.

The only scenario that is appropriate is #2, but we must be prepared for any of the above – stay armed and informed with Gun Owners of California.

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