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California DOJ Withdraws “Assault Weapon” Regulations

Monday, February 13, 2017

California DOJ Withdraws “Assault Weapon” Regulations

As previously reported, after the California Department of Justice submitted regulations regarding newly classified “assault weapons” to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) for publication in the California Code of Regulations (CCR), NRA and California Rifle & Pistol Association submitted a joint-letter to the DOJ explaining the flaws in the regulations and demanding that the regulations be withdrawn or we would be forced to pursue legal action. 

Late on Friday, February 10, the DOJ withdrew the problematic regulations from the OAL’s consideration. It is unclear exactly why the DOJ took this action, however it can be surmised that the NRA-CRPA legal letter likely prompted the move. NRA/CRPA’s letter explains the flaws in both the content and process in which DOJ sought to adopt the submitted regulations. While the regulations have been withdrawn, the underlying statutes remain in effect and new/revised regulations will likely be submitted to OAL in the near future. 

DOJ submitted the now withdrawn “assault weapon” regulations to OAL just before New Year’s Eve as “File and Print” only, meaning DOJ took the position that the regulations were exempt from public comment and should simply be published -- as is.  The regular rulemaking process in California (i.e., the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)), requires State agencies to provide at least 45 days for public comment on any regulation.  DOJ claimed an exemption to the APA as a result of specific language in the recently enacted “assault weapon” statute specifically pertaining to the actual registration process. Contrary to the limits of the exemption contained in the statute itself, the regulations submitted by DOJ to OAL went far beyond what is necessary for the registration process and read more like a wish list from the gun ban lobby. 

Fortunately, NRA and CRPA called DOJ on this ploy and DOJ appears to be reconsidering.   

Recently the DOJ backed down from their “emergency regulations” on so called “large capacity magazines” when faced with opposition from NRA/CRPA attorneys.  Just before New Year’s Eve, the DOJ withdrew the “emergency regulations” after receiving a letter from NRA/CRPA attorneys explaining the regulations failed to meet the legal standard for emergency status. 

What happens next with either set of regulations is unclear. DOJ will inevitably craft some regulations to effectuate the new “assault weapon” law because California law requires newly defined “assault weapons” to be registered before January 1, 2018 under whatever regulations are ultimately adopted.  Now, two months into the New Year, individuals are still lacking clear criteria and guidance on how to comply with the law and register their newly defined “assault weapons.” 

Regardless of how this regulatory mess plays out, NRA and CRPA are committed to staying on top of  DOJ regulations and actively preparing lawsuits against the laws pertaining to “assault weapons,” “large capacity magazines” and many other issues impacting your Second Amendment rights in California. To help support legal efforts in California please click here.     

To learn more about the new 2017 gun laws, click here to view archived NRA/CRPA webinars. 

Check your email and www.NRAILA.org to stay up to date on DOJ’s regulations and other important firearm related issues happening in California.


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.