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California Gun Magazine Law

California, known for its progressive stance on gun control, has one of the strictest laws in the United States when it comes to high-capacity magazines. However, like any legal landscape, there are nuances and outliers that make this topic complex and intriguing. In this article, we’ll delve into what defines a high-capacity magazine, the California gun magazine law, related gun laws, significant historical cases, and some other confusing gun laws in the state. Let’s explore the intricacies of California’s approach to high-capacity magazines.

What is a High-Capacity Magazine?

To begin our exploration, we first need to understand the definition of a high-capacity magazine in California. According to California Penal Code 16740, a high-capacity magazine is any magazine-feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds. Possession of such magazines is generally prohibited in the state.

California Gun Magazine Law

The heart of California’s stance against high-capacity magazines lies in Penal Code 32310. This code essentially prohibits the possession, importation, manufacture, and sale of large-capacity magazines. Fabricating or assembling such magazines is considered manufacturing.

Gun Laws Related to California Magazine Laws

Another law that intersects with high-capacity magazines is California’s definition of assault weapons under Penal Code 3051. If a semi-automatic centerfire rifle has any of the following features – flash suppressor, pistol grip, forward pistol grip, collapsing or telescoping stock, or a grenade launcher – it is deemed an assault weapon. This law has led Californians to modify their rifles to comply with featureless rifle configurations.

Important History in Case Law About Magazine Laws in California

Two significant cases have shaped the landscape of high-capacity magazines in California:

See also  California Gun Permit Laws

Duncan Vs Berra

This case challenged California Penal Code 32310 and was heard by Judge Roger T. Benitez. He ruled that the penal code, which prohibited the possession, importation, and manufacturing of large-capacity magazines, was a violation of the Second Amendment. An injunction was issued, preventing enforcement against law-abiding individuals in the state. This landmark ruling led to what became known as “Freedom Week.”

Freedom Week

After Judge Benitez’s ruling, for a brief period, the ban on high-capacity magazines was lifted, and individuals could legally purchase, possess, import, and manufacture these magazines. The freedom week lasted from April 1st to April 5th, 2019. However, some issues arose due to varying awareness among law enforcement agencies.

The Case of Peng Yang

Peng Yang’s arrest during the Freedom Week period highlights the complexities of enforcing such laws. Although he acquired a magazine legally during freedom week, he was initially charged under the penal code. Eventually, the charges were dropped after proper examination.

Other Complicated Gun Laws in California

Apart from high-capacity magazines, California’s gun laws have other aspects that can be puzzling for residents and outsiders alike. Some of these include:

10-day Waiting Period

California has a 10-day waiting period between purchasing a firearm and taking possession of it. While background checks are usually swift, this cooling-off period can be frustrating for gun buyers.

Ammunition Eligibility Check

Purchasing ammunition in California requires a background check conducted by an FFL-licensed dealer. Buying ammunition directly online is not allowed.

Handgun Roster

The state maintains a roster of approved handguns that can be legally purchased from FFL shops. Off-roster handguns can be acquired through private-party transactions.

See also  California Hunting


California’s strict laws against high-capacity magazines reflect the state’s commitment to gun control. However, the legal landscape surrounding these magazines is not without complexities. Past court cases and the impact of the freedom week have added layers of intricacy to the issue. When it comes to gun laws, California presents a unique set of challenges for both residents and visitors.


1- Do I need to have proof of purchase if I bought magazines during Freedom Week?

No, you don’t necessarily need a receipt or other proof. The burden of proof falls on the prosecutor to demonstrate that you didn’t purchase the magazines lawfully during Freedom Week.

2- Can I use Freedom Week magazines in my CCW weapon or carry them with a lawful CCW permit?

This depends on your local issuing agency’s guidelines for CCW permits. Some localities may impose restrictions on the number of firearms or magazine capacity allowed.

3- Can I still purchase magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds?

No, the ruling during freedom week only allowed for legal acquisition between April 1st and April 5th, 2019. Purchasing such magazines after that time is illegal in California.

4- Can I buy high-capacity magazines in another state and bring them into California?

No, importing high-capacity magazines into California after the Freedom Week period is considered illegal under Penal Code 32310.

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