More of those unintended consequences

Readers of these pages don’t need to be told that California recently passed new “assault weapon” regulations into law. (Why the quotes? Because, as the new laws themselves demonstrate, the term “assault weapon” has no fixed meaning. It’s a legal chimera.) Those laws are the subject of legal action, but, pending lawsuits do not relieve the Department of Justice from from its obligation to issue the regulations that will actually guide enforcement of the laws. Care to take a guess at what Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been doing? If you guessed “dragging his feet“, then you got it in one.

Gun owners have four options for dealing with the new law:

  1. Surrender or otherwise dispose of their very expensive property
  2. Register their firearms with the State
  3. Remove the features that cause the guns to be called “assault weapons”
  4. Or just ignore the law entirely

(Yes, that last one is an option.)

Option 1 was the intended result. The anti-gun Left thought that passing a law would make all of the naughty, evil, wicked, naughty guns just go away. But as mentioned above, these guns cost money. Some are less expensive than others, but they’re not free either. Expecting people to just give up their property isn’t realistic. Option 2, even if most gun owners view it with suspicion, isn’t possible. Thanks to the glacial pace at which AG Becerra is working, there is no mechanism to register these guns as “assault weapons”. So option 2 is also a non-starter. Option 3 is where things start to get interesting.

The law defines an “assault weapon” mostly by a series of cosmetic features. These do not affect the way the gun functions. The one functional feature is the presence of a detachable magazine in combination with those cosmetic features. Removing the detachable magazine means that it can no longer be called an “assault weapon”. The intended result was that one would have to at least partially disassemble the gun to reload. But thanks to the new market that these laws created, products like this now exist…

This is just one of many reloading systems that now exist that allow a fixed magazine to be reloaded quickly.

The flip side to removing the detachable magazine is removing the cosmetic features. These are generally called “featureless builds”. Why would someone do this? Because a “featureless” gun can have a detachable magazine! If the entire point of the law was to get rid of detachable magazine guns, then it’s failed miserably. These guns and those with fixed magazines need not be registered.

Now back to option 4: do nothing and ignore the law. As long as there’s no way to register an “assault weapon” under the new law, one is by default ignoring the law. But once Becerra finally gets off his lazy backside and establishes a registration system, there is no obvious way to tell a registered gun from an unregistered gun. We’ve mentioned this problem before.