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robspmc
03-28-2005, 1:19 PM
Hello All,

I have a quick legal question. I've had a fab 10 lower for a year or so and I thought I missed out on building a .50 but I've been corrected and told I have until 1-06 to register it. My question is, "Do I have to buy/build the upper prior to registering it?" Thanks in advance for all your help.

Rob

robspmc
03-28-2005, 1:19 PM
Hello All,

I have a quick legal question. I've had a fab 10 lower for a year or so and I thought I missed out on building a .50 but I've been corrected and told I have until 1-06 to register it. My question is, "Do I have to buy/build the upper prior to registering it?" Thanks in advance for all your help.

Rob

imported_MaxQ
03-28-2005, 1:58 PM
The DOJ .50 BMG FAQ page is here:

http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/50bmgfaqs.htm

You can register your FAB-10 lower by itself as a .50 BMG rifle. You do not need have a .50 BMG upper. You also can still use the lower for .223, etc, even after you register it as a .50 BMG rifle.

Question #22 on the above DOJ page:

Q. Can a serialized receiver be registered as a .50 BMG rifle?

A. A fully functional, serialized receiver which does not already fall within the statutory definitions of a machine gun or an assault weapon and is lawfully possessed prior to January 1, 2005, may be registered as a .50 BMG rifle during the statutorily authorized registration period. Please note that make, model, and serial number information are required for registering .50 BMG rifles or receivers.

You can always call or write the DOJ, too. I've had very good luck in my contacts with them. It is ALWAYS better to get their answers in writing.

Question #3:

Q. What is the .50 BMG rifle registration period?
A. The .50 BMG rifle registration period is from January 1, 2005 through April 30, 2006.

As I said, most people I know of are waiting til near the end of the reg period. Just make sure that you send your paperwork early enough so that no delay or bureaucratic paperwork snafu will screw you. Many gun shops have the necessary reg cards, or you can call the DOJ and they will send them to you.

Good luck!

bwiese
03-28-2005, 2:10 PM
Background... you could not legally acquire a 50BMG rifle on/after beginning of this year (1 Jan 2005). Also, the registration period for 50BMG rifles is from 1 Jan 2005 thru 30 Apr 2006. You can legally possess the 50BMG up til the last minute and mail your reg form in on Apr 29 2006. Possession after that is grey area but as long as papers are in/filed by then, you'd get them back in 2-3 weeks and be good to go.

If the rifle in question is already a semiautomatic assault weapon and was legally registered in CA as an AW by 12/31/00 (with some exceptions for ARs/AKs to 1/23/2001), no additional registration papers need to be filed; an existing AW can at anytime be legally converted to 50BMG and without further paperwork; the 50BMG attribute is just yet another 'evil feature' for a legally-owned/reg'd CA assault weapon.

Now, some relevant 50BMG FAQ Q&As were posted by Cal DOJ Firearms, which I will comment on after quoting the choicest ones:

(see http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/50bmgfaqs.htm )

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">
21. Is it possible to purchase, DROS and receive a serialized receiver prior to Jan 1, 2005, with that receiver to be completed into a .50BMG rifle subsequent to Jan 1, 2005, but prior to registration as a .50BMG rifle?

A fully functional, serialized .50BMG rifle receiver which does not already fall within the statutory definitions of a machine gun or an assault weapon may be lawfully purchased prior to January 1, 2005.

It would be a violation of the law to utilize any receiver not already registered as an assault weapon in a configuration described by Penal Code section 12276.1, or specifically listed by Penal Code section 12276, or to utilize any machine gun receiver as part of a .50 BMG rifle.

22. Can a serialized receiver be registered as a .50BMG rifle?

A fully functional, serialized receiver which doesn't already fall within the statutory definitions of a machinegun or an assault weapon and is lawfully possessed prior to Jan 1, 2005, may be registered as a .50BMG rifle during the statutorily authorized registration period. Please note that make, model, and serial number information are required for registering .50BMG rifles or receivers.

23. Is there a restriction on the type of serialized receiver that can be part of a .50BMG rifle?

Penal Code sec. 12278, effective 1 Jan 2005, defines as a .50BMG rifle, "...a centerfire rifle that can fire a .50BMG cartridge and is not already an assault weapon pursuant to Sections 12276, 12276.1, or 12276.5, or a machinegun, as defined in Section 12200."

Therefore, it would be a violation of the law to utilize any receiver not already registered as an assault weapon in a configuration described by Penal Code section 12276.1, or to utilize any receiver specifically listed by Penal Code section 12276. It would also be illegal to utilize any machine gun receiver as part of a .50 BMG rifle. And, as stated previously, the serialized receiver must be fully functional to qualify for registration.

24. Is it necessary for the receiver to be stamped, engraved or to otherwise physically indicate .50BMG in some fashion?

The statutes prescribe no such stamping or engraving requirement for those receivers which may be registered as a .50BMG rifle.

25. Is the utilization of a .50BMG registered receiver in a configuration other than .50BMG lawful?

The statute makes no prohibitions against utilizing receivers that can lawfully be a part of a .50 BMG rifle for other lawful uses. Please remember, however, that Penal Code section 12278 states a .50BMG rifle cannot already be an assault weapon or a machine gun. Therefore, no registered .50BMG receiver can ever be configured as an assault weapon or a machine gun.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

[I]The specific issue not treated in these questions above is that FAB10 lowers, etc. are clearly generic rifle receivers, and are not essentially 50BMG-only receivers (like Serbu, etc.) Even though there's no requirement that receiver be marked as '.50BMG', my conservative reading of this situation is that since it didn't really exist in a 50BMG rifle configuration before 1 Jan 05, you did not really have possession of a 50BMG rifle before 1 Jan 05, and you might be illegally constructing a post-Jan'05 50BMG rifle. So putting a 50BMG upper you didn't possess before Jan 1 2005 might conceivably be in a bit of a grey area.

Nevertheless, I don't think if you go ahead amd reg your FAB10 lower as a 50BMG they are going to look at your banking records for when you acquired your upper! [A wise/paranoid person might, just for safety's sake, purchase the 50BMG upper, have it sent to another address and pay for it with cash/money order, with funds not drawn out of your bank all at once.]

This is much akin to the 1999/2000 assault weapon situation in CA. Many people were buying receivers in 1999 for registration in 2000. Many of these receivers did not get built into assault weapons for some years, although the receivers were reg'd as AWs.

This was not significant for AR & AK ('Type II') series weapons, as the Aug 2000 Kasler decision makes them essentially 'by name' assault weapons not requiring any evil features to be considered as AWs - no matter the mfgr/model#, etc. But for things like FAL clones and HK-9x clones (but not FN-FALs or HK-91/93/94s), the receivers in & of themselves are _not_ AWs and only become so when certain evil features (pistol grip, detach mag, etc.) are added. Really, registering a non-AW as an AW might conceivably be considered a fraudulent/bad-faith AW reg. application though I am sure many folks did this. The registration laws/processes really did not give permission to construct an AW after the ban, but merely to continue to possess one already existing before the ban.

Again, this is something I don't think anyone's gonna look too hard at esp after owner has his reg paperwork! [However, being paranoid, I had all my AR lowers equipped with pistol grips, and I had my 2 FAL clones have enough crappy FAL parts thrown together in 1999 to be both CA-legal and Federally ("postban") legal. While not safe to fire and needing smithing, they would have qualified as AWs legally possessed in 1999 - and then I could take my sweet time to find a FAL smith, good/new parts kits, etc. at my merry pace.]


Bill Wiese
San Jose