Citizens Buying Long Arms in California to Beat Registration
With a looming deadline to have new rifles and shotguns registered with the state, residents of that great 'Best Coast' state are scrambling at the last minute. The rush? To buy a long arm before 2013 ends and avoid the legal mire of having to register it starting next year.
In 2010, Californians purchased 260,573 long guns, significantly more than the 233,346 handguns acquired in the same time period by the state's 38-million legal residents. While handgun ownership is highly regulated, certain politicians felt that a quarter million new rifles and shotguns hitting the streets every year was a problem not sufficiently covered by the 2nd Amendment. Therefore, in 2011 they submitted Assembly Bill 809. This bill was aimed to register all guns, not just handguns, stating, "Long gun record retention would not adversely impact law-abiding citizens, but would provide important benefits to law enforcement."
Of course, law enforcement could always track back recovered long guns through the Federal government's BATFE Form 4473 kept on file at local gun shops, but why not add another layer of control over these guns? It's seen by many as a way to beef up the number of illegal gun owners on the state's new Armed Prohibited Persons System. This already infamous system is used to confiscate the firearms of California residents who are deemed no longer eligible to own them. Gun Owners of California has found that the system is already wildly incorrect --so adding millions of more long guns to it could further destabilize it.
Nonetheless, AB809 was introduced into the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on March 24, 2011, was approved and signed by Governor Jerry Brown to take effect January 1, 2014.
(The Good old 4473 just wasn't good enough for the State Assembly)
Now, the rush
In Sacramento, the local CBS station conducted a poll of area gun shops and what they found should not be surprising. With the new law looming large, Californians are stocking up. In one shop, sales of shotguns and rifles are up more than 50%.
One gun shop owner was quoted for the record as stating, "These are law-abiding citizens. They're not trying to beat the system or anything like that. They just don't want to be tracked."
Studies have shown that this type of registration is rarely effective or even helpful to law enforcement. In Canada, after wasting millions of dollars, the government recently scrapped their long gun registry. Having massive cost overruns with minimal returns to show for it, the program just wasn't worth it.
Current California laws
AB809 requires that all Californians register all new firearms of any type after Jan 1, 2014. This is in addition to the $15-19 Dealer's Record of Sale (DROS) fee is collected by the State of California as an integral part of every firearm transaction simply to pay for record keeping. Up until now, every time you bought a firearm in the state, you paid the fee and, in addition to the US BATFE Form 4473 that was filled out, a DROS form was completed. Within five days of the sale, the state destroyed the long gun DROS forms, only keeping those for handguns on file. Now, they will just keep them all.
The National Rifle Association claimed the bill violates the Second Amendment and will waste an estimated $400,000 in state taxpayer money.
Such is progress.