2020 Brings New California Gun Laws-What You Need To Know.
NEW GUN LAWS FOR 2020
I. CHANGES TO CALIFORNIA’S “GUN VIOLENCE RESTRAINING ORDER” (“GVRO”) LAWS
1. Up to Five Year Duration – Assembly Bill No. 12 (Effective Sept. 1, 2020)
Courts can generally issue a GVRO for up to one year following a formal hearing. This bill increases the potential duration of a GVRO to up to five years, while allowing those subjected to a GVRO to petition the court for early termination of that GVRO once per year.
2. Who Can Petition for A GVRO – Assembly Bill No. 61 (Effective Sept. 1, 2020)
Current law only allows law enforcement and “immediate family” to petition a court for a GVRO against an individual. This bill also allows employers, coworkers, and employees or teachers of a secondary or postsecondary school to be able to seek a GVRO against an individual, subject to the following conditions:
• For a coworker to be able to seek a GVRO, they must have had substantial and regular interactions with the subject for at least one year and have obtained the approval of the employer to seek the GVRO.
• For an employee or a teacher of a secondary of postsecondary school to seek a GVRO, the subject must have attended the school in the last six months, and the employee or teacher must first obtain approval of a school administrator or staff member with a supervisorial role to seek a GVRO against the individual.
3. Out-of-State Restraining Orders – Assembly Bill No. 164 (Effective Jan. 1, 2020)
This bill expands the application of California’s restrictions against firearm possession for persons subject to a restraining order to also include “any other valid order issued by an out-of-state jurisdiction that is similar or equivalent to a temporary restraining order, injunction, or protective order that includes a prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm.”
4. Written Law Enforcement Policies – Assembly Bill No. 339 (Effective Jan. 1, 2020)
This bill requires law enforcement agencies to develop written GVRO policies and procedures and make them available to the public upon request.
5. Voluntary Surrender of Rights – Assembly Bill No. 1493 (Effective Sept. 1, 2020)
Allows those facing a GVRO to file a form with the court to relinquish their firearm rights for the duration specified on the petition, or if not stated, for one year from the date of the proposed hearing.
II. SALES OF “FIREARM PRECURSOR PARTS” – ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 879
Imposes licensed sale and background check requirements for “firearm precursor parts,” defined by the bill as either:
• An unfinished receiver, including both a single part receiver and multiple part receiver, such as a receiver in an AR-10 or AR-15 style firearm; or,
• An unfinished handgun frame.
For purposes of the above, “unfinished receiver” includes “a receiver tube, a molder or shaped polymer frame or receiver, a metallic casting, a metallic forging, and a receiver flat, such as a Kalashnikov-style weapons system, Kalashnikov-style receiver channel, or a Browning-style receiver side plate.”
Effective July 1, 2024, sales of any “firearm precursor part” must be processed by a licensed vendor and occur in face-to-face transactions. California residents will also be prohibited from transporting into California any firearm precursor part purchased or otherwise obtained outside California unless first delivered to a licensed vendor to process the transfer.
Effective July 1, 2025, the sale of any “firearm precursor part” will require DOJ-electronic approval and must be recorded with DOJ.
III. OPERATION OF LAW TRANSFERS – ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1292 (EFFECTIVE JAN. 1, 2020)
This bill clarifies “operation of law” firearm transfers to expressly contemplate trusts, power of attorney, conservatorships, guardian ad litem, special administrators, and court appointed guardians. Gun owners should be aware, however, that the Dealer Record of Sale (“DROS”) Entry System (“DES”) used by DOJ for purposes of firearm transfers does not provide a means for entities (such as trusts) to generate a firearm transaction record.
IV. CCW LICENSE LOCAL APPLICATION FEES – ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1297 (EFFECTIVE JAN. 1, 2020)
When applying for a CCW, individuals must pay their issuing authority a local processing fee that cannot exceed $100. This bill removes the statutory cap on this fee, and instead requires local licensing authorities to charge a fee “equal to the reasonable costs for processing the application for a new license, issuing the license, and enforcing the license.”
V. FIREARM TRANSFER FEES – ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1669 (EFFECTIVE JAN. 1, 2020)
When purchasing a firearm from a dealer, current law requires individuals to pay a $19 Dealer Record of Sale (“DROS”) fee. This bill reduces the DROS fee to $1, but simultaneously imposes a new $31.19 fee to cover the costs of DOJ’s activities “related to the sale, purchase, manufacturing, lawful or unlawful possession, loan, or transfer of firearms.”
VI. SEMIAUTOMATIC CENTERFIRE RIFLE SALES – SENATE BILL NO. 61
1. Minimum Age Restriction and Exceptions (Effective Jan. 1, 2020)
Current law prohibits California licensed dealers from selling, supplying, delivering, or giving possession or control of any firearm (including long guns) to anyone under the age of 21 absent certain exceptions (such as those over 18 with a valid, unexpired hunting license seeking to purchase a firearm that is not a handgun). This bill further limits these exceptions as applied to sales of long guns to persons over 18 but under 21 as illustrated below.
For firearms that are not handguns or semiautomatic centerfire rifles, the person must either:
• Possess a valid unexpired hunting license; or,
• Provide proper identification of being an honorably discharged member of the United States Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Air National Guard, of the active reserve components of the United States.
For firearms that are not handguns (any type of long gun), the person must either:
• Be an active peace officer authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of their employment;
• Be an active federal officer or federal law enforcement agent authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of their employment;
• Be a reserve peace officer authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of their employment; or,
• Provide proper identification of active membership in the United States Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Air National Guard, or active reserve components of the United States.
2. One Per Month Restriction Applied to Semiautomatic Centerfire Rifles (Effective July 1, 2021)
Current law prohibits individuals from purchasing more than one handgun in any 30-day period from a California licensed firearms dealer. This bill will also expand that restriction to apply to any semiautomatic centerfire rifle
VII. FIREARM STORAGE – SENATE BILL NO. 172 (EFFECTIVE JAN. 1, 2020)
California’s negligent storage provisions currently prohibit individuals from storing firearms in a manner that allows a child or prohibited person to gain access. Violations are dependent on the type of firearm, whether it is loaded, and how it is ultimately used. This bill makes violations no longer dependent on the type of firearm or whether it is loaded. The bill also imposes a 10-year firearm prohibition for misdemeanor violations of these restrictions.
This bill also imposes specific firearm storage requirements for residential care facilities for the elderly, residential care facilities for persons with chronic life-threatening illness, and community care facilities for adults licensed by the State Department of Social Services. DOJ is required to adopt regulations implementing these requirements, and until doing so may implement and administer the new laws through the issuance of “written directives.” DOJ has yet to do either.
VIII. “INFREQUENT” FIREARM SALES – SENATE BILL NO. 376 (EFFECTIVE JAN. 1, 2020)
Current law defines the term “infrequent” in the context of firearm sales as less than six handgun transactions per calendar year, and as applied to long guns, “occasional and without regularity.” Sales in excess of this require a California firearms dealers license.
This bill redefines the term “infrequent” to now mean less than six transactions per calendar year (regardless of the type of firearm), and in any event no more than 50 total firearms per calendar year.
IX. OTHER RECENT CHANGES TO CALIFORNIA GUN LAWS THAT TOOK EFFECT IN 2019
1. Ammunition Background Checks (July 1, 2019)
As of July 1, 2019, all ammunition sales in California conducted by or processed through a licensed ammunition vendor (which includes a California licensed firearms dealer) must first obtain DOJ-approval using one of the following methods:
• Standard Ammunition Eligibility Check (AFS Match) ($1) – A purchaser or transferee is authorized to purchase ammunition if their information matches an entry in the Automated Firearm System (“AFS”) and does not match an entry in the Prohibited Armed Persons File.
• Basic Ammunition Eligibility Check (Single Transaction or Purchase) ($19) – A purchaser or transferee is authorized to purchase ammunition if they are not prohibited from purchasing or possessing ammunition following a determination made by DOJ.
• Firearms Eligibility Check – An individual who is purchasing or transferring a firearm and ammunition in the same transaction who successfully completes the firearms eligibility check.
• COE Verification Process ($1) – A purchaser or transferee is authorized to purchase ammunition if they hold a current Certificate of Eligibility as verified by DOJ.
2. Federally Compliant ID for All Firearm and Ammunition Eligibility Checks (July 1, 2019)
As of July 1, 2019, any person undergoing a firearms or ammunition eligibility check using an ID with the notation “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” must also provide “proof of lawful presence in the United States” using one of the following documents:
• A valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card;
• A certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate;
• A Certification of Birth Abroad (FS-545);
• A Certification of Report of Birth (DS-1350);
• A Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (FS-240);
• A valid, unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. immigrant visa and approved Record of Arrival/Departure (I-94) form;
• A certified copy of a birth certificate from a U.S. Territory;
• A Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship; or,
• A valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card.
If, however, the person’s name as reflected on their ID differs from the document provided, the person must also provide one of the following certified documents:
• An adoption document that contains their legal name as a result of the adoption;
• A name change document that contains their legal name both before and, as a result of, the name change;
• A marriage certificate;
• A dissolution of marriage document that contains their legal name as a result of the court action;
• A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership; or,
• A dissolution of domestic partnership document that contains their legal name as a result of the court action.
3. Required Use of Non-Lead Ammunition for Hunting (July 1, 2019)
As of July 1, 2019, non-lead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. For more information regarding this requirement and its exceptions, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.
X. PENDING LITIGATION
NYSRPA v. New York, New York (SCOTUS) – Challenges New York City’s firearm transportation restrictions as a violation of the Second Amendment. While not directly related to California, any decision will have a significant impact on current and future firearm-related litigation in California. Oral arguments were held before the Supreme Court on December 2, 2019.
Rhode v. Becerra (USDC S.D. CA) – Challenges California’s ammunition sales restrictions as a violation of the Second Amendment and Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs have filed a motion for an injunction against these requirements while the lawsuit is pending. A decision on the request for an injunction is expected shortly.
Duncan v. Becerra (Ninth Circuit) – Challenges California’s restrictions against standard capacity magazines. In March 2019, the Plaintiffs were successful in obtaining a permanent injunction against California’s restrictions, including the restriction against the acquisition of standard capacity magazines. As a result, tens of thousands of California gun owners lawfully purchased more than a million standard capacity magazines during a period now known as “Freedom Week.” California’s Attorney General has appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit.
Rupp v. Becerra (Ninth Circuit) – Challenges California’s “assault weapon” restrictions as a violation of the Second Amendment, Due Process Clause, and Takings Clause of the United States Constitution. In July 2019, the lower court upheld California’s restrictions. Plaintiffs have since appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit.
Flanagan v. Becerra (Ninth Circuit) – Challenges California’s carry restrictions (both open and concealed) as a violation of the Second Amendment. In July 2019, the Ninth Circuit stayed the case pending a decision from the Supreme Court in NYSRPA v. New York, New York.
Villanueva v. Becerra (California Fifth Appellate District) – Challenges DOJ’s “bullet button assault weapon” registration regulations as a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. In May 2018, the California Superior Court issued an order upholding DOJ’s regulations as valid. Plaintiffs have since appealed. The case is now fully briefed and awaiting oral arguments before California’s Fifth Appellate District.
NRA v. City of Los Angeles (USDC C.D. CA) – Challenges Los Angeles’ ordinance requiring city contractors to disclose certain affiliations with the National Rifle Association as a violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs were successful in obtaining an injunction against the City’s ordinance.
NRA v. City of San Francisco (USDC N.D. CA) – Challenges San Francisco’s resolution declaring the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization” as a violation of the First Amendment. The lawsuit was filed in September of 2019. San Francisco is expected to file a response by October 17, 2019.
B&L Productions v. 22nd Agricultural Association (USDC S.D. CA) – Challenges the Del Mar Fair Board of Directors’ decision to prohibit gun shows as a violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs were successful in obtaining an injunction allowing gun shows to continue while the case is litigated. Briefing on the merits is expected to begin in May 2020.
Kirk v. City of Morgan Hill (Santa Clara County Superior Court) – Challenges Morgan Hill’s mandatory theft/loss reporting ordinance as preempted by California law. Specifically, State law provides that victims of a theft or loss of a firearm must report the theft or loss within five days, whereas Morgan Hill’s ordinance only provides two days. The case is now in the discovery phase of litigation.