What Are the Bump Stock Laws in California?
A bump stock is a modification to a firearm that manipulates the stock, trigger and grip on a semi-automatic rifle, using recoil to manipulate the trigger to fire at an accelerated rate of speed when held.
California Penal Code 16930
Bump Stocks are legally defined as a “multiburst trigger activator” which can be one of two things:
- “A device designed or redesigned to be attached to a semi-automatic firearm, which allows the firearm to discharge two or more shots in a burst by activating the device; or
- A manual or power-driven trigger activating device constructed and designed so that when attached to a semiautomatic firearm it increases the rate of fire of that firearm.”
This device replaces the stock on the firearm with a “reciprocating stock” that stays planted against your shoulder and firmly holding the barrel, the recoil of the firearm moves the trigger back and forth against the weight of your finger, mimicking the automatic rate of fire. Bump stocks were the famous modification used during the Las Vegas strip shooting in 2017.
Penal Code 32900 forbids the use of “multiburst trigger activators” in California. Possession of any type of accessory that increases the rate of fire for semi-automatic rifles in California can be prosecuted by a misdemeanor or felony.
What Are the Penalties for Possessing a Bump Stock?
- A misdemeanor penalty of violating PC 32900 can lead up to one year in county jail.
- A felony charge can range between 18 months and 3 years in jail.
- After 2018, federal law states that bump stock owners must destroy or surrender their bump stocks to the ATF. If not they can face up to 10 years in federal prison and fines up to $250,000.
What Are the Defenses for Possessing a Bump Stock?
There are many ways to fight against a Bump Stock charge.
One defense is proving the defendant was in lawful possession of the bump stock. Another defense would be that the defendant was in possession of the bump stock while taking it to law enforcement for disposal. Ignorance of possession or not being the owner of the bump stock also leaves room for charges to be dropped.
One of the best defenses is through police misconduct. Where the bump stock was obtained through illegal search and seizure, a coerced confession or planted evidence.
Confusion About Bump Stocks
Bump Stocks do not convert semi-automatic rifles into automatic ones, although they allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire like an automatic one. Under federal law, Attorney General Mathew Whitaker signed a bill defining weapons with bump stocks as machine guns. You may however legally own a bump stock in California if:
- It is in the possession of a historical society or museum.
- Authorized use for a movie or video production.
- You are someone who sells or rents bump stocks to museums or entertainment productions.
- You are law enforcement.