The state Department of Justice submitted draft regulations to the California Office of Administrative Law this week expanding the definition of an “assault weapon” in the state.
The state hasn’t released the proposed regulations to the public, submitting them “file and print only” even though California residents are facing an end of the year registration deadline to abide by the yet-to-be established rules.
This comes three months after the withdrawal of an initial proposed rule formulated during the administration of Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a U.S. senator, to address changes required by legislation passed last year. That rule had been submitted after a proposed emergency regulation on making now-outlawed pre-ban magazines capable of holding more than 10 cartridges compliant, which, in turn, has also been pulled.
The National Rifle Association and California Rifle & Pistol Association had fired off a prelitigation letter to the state, warning of several potential illegalities with the initially proposed regulations and now eagerly wants a look at the new regulations.
According to attorney Chuck Michel, the NRA’s west coast counsel, the new statutes give DOJ the authority to establish the regulation on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, but they can’t do it without first asking for public comment on the proposed regulations.
“They just want to railroad it through the Office of Administrative Law and get them published without any public comment,” Michel told Guns.com on Tuesday in a phone call. He fears since the latest set of regs revise the same code sections as the first, there are still multiple illegalities in DOJ’s latest version.
Michel thinks DOJ, by skirting public comment, is trying to get the new regs in place on the cheap through a regulatory dodge sans public hearings as the deadline grows closer to register guns newly classified as “assault weapons.”
“Now here we are almost June, and people have to register them by January 1,” says Michel, arguing the state’s lawyers are stretched thin and can’t keep up with what it is tasked with doing. “This is just the latest illustration of a dysfunctional DOJ when it comes to regulating firearms.”
Faced with the looming need to draft and enforce new regulations — including a mandated background check process for ammunition sales — as well as fight lawsuits, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $33 million increase to DOJ’s budget earlier this year while simultaneously backing a $5 million general fund reduction, the latter frowned upon by the state fiscal policy watchdog. Since then, California ‘s new attorney general, Xavier Becerra, was able to wrangle an additional $6.5 million from Brown to provide for more staff to help wage legal warfare with the federal government. Becerra told lawmakers last month his office has spent $6.5 million alone fighting President Trump’s executive orders since January.
Speaking of litigation.
“CRPA and NRA will make another lawsuit ready against DOJ because they have exceeded their statutory authority to promulgate these regs and we’ll put that on top of the other lawsuits,” said Michel.