New California AG pumps brakes on new bullet button rules

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office has pulled their proposed rules on just what constitutes an assault weapon under state law where bullet buttons are concerned. (Photo: Xavier Becerra via Twitter)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office has pulled its proposed rules on just what constitutes an assault weapon under state law where bullet buttons are concerned. (Photo: Xavier Becerra via Twitter)

The California Department of Justice without comment last week withdrew a proposed rule updating the state’s regulations on bullet buttons and “assault weapon” registration.

The state’s Office of Administrative Law listed the proposed bullet button rulemaking as “under review” on Friday morning with a deadline of Feb. 13, then by evening had updated its status to “withdrawn” with no effective date. Repeated requests by for comment from OAL and DOJ officials on why the regulation was withdrawn or when a modified or substitute version would be resubmitted were not answered.

The rule had been formulated during the administration of Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a U.S. senator, to address changes required by legislation passed last year. The 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.

Harris’ replacement, former U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, a longtime Democratic lawmaker and former state’s deputy attorney general in the late 1980s, was sworn in last month. While Becerra has been quick to challenge the new president over the controversial federal travel ban and other issues, he has not released any statements on California’s pending firearms regulations.

Second Amendment groups, however, are talking.

The National Rifle Association and California Rifle & Pistol Association had submitted a pre-litigation demand letter over the proposed new bullet button rules, citing they were confusing and vague.

The gun rights groups argued the proposed rules, which seemed to circumvent the public comment period traditionally seen by new laws, “went far beyond what is necessary for the registration process and read more like a wish list from the gun ban lobby.”

Craig J. DeLuz, director of legislative and public affairs with the Firearms Policy Coalition, told the proposed rules were a morass of potential pitfalls.

“For the second time in as many months, DOJ has been forced to withdraw proposed regulations relating to bills and initiative that were passed last year,” said DeLuz. “If those who are tasked with enforcing this mess can’t figure it out, how is the average citizen to as they try to comply?”

He also questioned the way the proposal was advanced in the first place, without the 45-day comment period.

“What’s equally as disturbing is how DOJ has tried to push these regulations through in the dark of night, with little to no public input,” said DeLuz. “They actually tried to write new law into the regulations and thought nobody was watching. Well, we were.”

The group cautions the legislation requiring the new rules is still in effect, with a deadline that all lawfully-possessed “Bullet-Button Assault Weapons” must be registered by the end of the year, though the process to be compliant is now in limbo with the withdrawal of the proposed rules.

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