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View Full Version : Private importation of off-list handguns


09-30-2005, 5:11 PM
As has been discussed many times: One of the few ways that off-list handguns can come into the state is when residents of other states, who already own them, move into the state (note that the provisions of the AWB and such still apply). Once the new resident is in the state, he/she registers the gun with the DoJ, which is simple and cheap. And there is nothing that prevents the owner from selling the gun later to another California resident. Maybe the happy Califoria resident who buys the gun from the importer would even pay a premium for the gun, given that there is no other way to obtain it in California (other than moving to another state for a few months, which is way too inconvenient in this day and age of jobs, mortgages, kids in school and such).

Therefore, one might conclude that it would be a good idea to have a central place where people who are intending to move to California can make contact with California residents, find out which guns are most desired in the state, purchase them before leaving their old home state, bring them to California, and then sell them to a waiting party. A discussion forum such as this one might be the ideal place for such a meeting ground.

I fear, however, that this would be illegal, for at least two reasons. First one can sensibly argue that the person who is moving is only buying the gun as a frontman for the waiting California resident, and buying guns as a frontman for another person is a federal crime, AFAIK. Second, bringing guns into the state with intent to sell them would probably be seen as commercial handgun importation by the CA AG, at which point the above-discussed exemption for off-list guns is no longer operational. These two problems are centered around the intent of the importer: if they firmly intend to transfer the gun to a California resident, and this has been arranged before importing the gun, then it is an illegal operation. On the other hand, if they happen to own a firearm (even if they just bought it the day before moving), and a while after arriving in California they spontaneously decide to sell it, it is not illegal. So I think that operating such a "I'm looking for a courier from another state - Will move to CA, what guns shall I import" forum would be a very bad idea, as it would be collaborating in committing crimes.

The problem here lies in proving intent: In order for the importer or the buyer to be sucessfully prosecuted, some law enforcement would have to be able to prove that the importer had intent to "flip" the gun, and the buyer had intent do obtain an off-list gun. The intent would be obvious in cut-and-dried cases, for example if the two parties enter into a written contract, and the buyer funds the operation by transferring the funds required to buy the gun to the importer. On the other hand, and quiet verbal gentleman's agreement, with no money changing hands until the last step of the deal, and with suitable time delays between purchase, importation, and sale, would be virtually undetectable and improvable. The chatter among California gun owners is that occasionally CA residenents and people moving to the state make such informal arrangements.

Questions: First, do people agree with my analysis so far? Second, can anyone think of a way in which informal arrangements could be arranged easily, without crossing the line into explicitly illegal and in particular prosecutable actions? For example, I could fly to Tucson or Phoenix for a week, and hang out at shooting ranges (or talk to graduating seniors at the local University, expecting that many of them will soon go to jobs in Silicon Valley), chat with a lot of people, and ask them whether they intend to move to California, and let them know that certain handgun models are highly sought after in California, and fetch good prices, and make sure they have the phone numbers of a few people known to be looking for these handguns. Still, this is a very impractical approach. Is there something better?

socalguns
10-01-2005, 12:09 AM
Originally posted by treelogger:

*snip*

Questions: First, do people agree with my analysis so far?

No.
IANAL (I AM NOT A LAWYER)
but your logic as to why this might be illegal
is deeply deeply flawed.


buying the gun as a frontman for the waiting California resident, and buying guns as a frontman for another person is a federal crime, AFAIK.
Wrong wrong wrong http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
What you're thinking of are "straw purchases" which are illegal (guy buys gun legally, sells it ilegally).
So as long as the new california resident sells his guns legally, there is nothing to worry about.


Second, bringing guns into the state with intent to sell them would probably be seen as commercial handgun importation by the CA AG, at which point the above-discussed exemption for off-list guns is no longer operational.

Wrong again http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif The law wants you to either register it or sell it

Originally posted at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/ab991.htm

Any person who moves into California and who brings any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person is considered to be a "Personal Handgun Importer" and is required to do one of the following within 60 days:

* Complete and submit a NEW RESIDENT HANDGUN OWNERSHIP REPORT form along with $19.00 ...

* Sell or transfer the handgun(s) to a California licensed firearms dealer or to another individual using a California licensed firearms dealer to conduct the transaction.



So what you're proposing is perfectly legitimate (but might not remain so, you know how the anti-gun idiots operate).

If you're still worried, you might contact an actual california gun lawyer http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

10-03-2005, 5:35 PM
I'm curious... What are the most sought-after handguns that are not on the CA-approved list?

10-03-2005, 8:50 PM
Dunno, the one I'm looking for???

Here's a list of things I've heard.
<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>At the top of it is the H&K Mark23. It has an extra problem in that it is shipped with a threaded barrel for a suppressor, so one would have to replace the barrel, or (sacrilege alert) grind the threads off. Similar the H&K USP tactical, although other than the threaded barrel, one can build that one up from a regular USP and lots of spare parts.
<LI>Taurus revolvers in .22 WMR (the .22 LR models are on the list, the .22 WMR are not).
<LI>Rock River Arms custom 1911 - supposedly sought after by the IPSC/IDPA crowd. Not to be confused with Rock Island 1911s.
<LI>Small European manufacturers, such as Korth and Manurhin revolvers.
<LI>Dan Wesson (now part of Cz, so that might iron itself out).
[/list]
I'm sure other people will have a hugely different list.

saki302
10-04-2005, 3:52 AM
Don't forget-

Any gun made between 1956 and 2000 that is no longer in production http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
There are a few exceptions with recently imported guns, but too few IMO..

-Dave

maxicon
10-04-2005, 12:17 PM
Here's a list of things I've heard.

I'd add the Keltec pocket pistols, especially the P3AT, and older S&W revolvers that are not on the list by revision.

This is a quirk of the list - any generation Glock 17 can be brought in, since the list just calls it a Glock 17, but many S&W revolvers can't be brought in because the list includes the revision (686-6, for instance).

max

socalguns
10-04-2005, 10:46 PM
Originally posted by DRH:
Cobray style machine pistols are $189 out of state and the few remaining PPT guns are $700-800 in state. For someone moving in from out of state a boatload of these would turned a fast profit. However I think the problem would be that you are now buying and selling guns for profit and should be a FFL not a private individual. One or two might fly below the radar but more than that may be a problem.

You sound scared.
Selling 1 gun you own is no different than selling 100 guns you own.
Its perfectly legitimate.
The only thing you might look out for
is declaring the sales during tax time.

Your real concern is being able to sell
a 100 guns in 60 days, private transfer and all.

chunger
10-05-2005, 12:56 AM
Caspian 1911 frames. . . if you're moving in. .. many people in California want to build a custom gun or have a full house custom built for them, but they cannot get their hands on a legal frame to build on.

Buy a stack because they're relatively inexpensive, and there will be no shortage of people who want/need them.

art_e@hotmail.com
10-05-2005, 5:54 AM
Originally posted by socalguns:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by DRH:
Cobray style machine pistols are $189 out of state and the few remaining PPT guns are $700-800 in state. For someone moving in from out of state a boatload of these would turned a fast profit. However I think the problem would be that you are now buying and selling guns for profit and should be a FFL not a private individual. One or two might fly below the radar but more than that may be a problem.

You sound scared.
Selling 1 gun you own is no different than selling 100 guns you own.
Its perfectly legitimate.
The only thing you might look out for
is declaring the sales during tax time.

Your real concern is being able to sell
a 100 guns in 60 days, private transfer and all. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Selling 100 guns is legitimate, but selling 100 of the SAME gun in a short span of time is definitely going to raise red flags. Declaring sales is the least of your worries, remember you have to go through an FFL to transfer these and there will be a record of each sale.

Red flags would probably be raised before you even got to a sale because you'd have to register all of these weapons once you move.

Yeah, I'd be scared because I wouldnt want to wake up behind bars....

socalguns
10-05-2005, 8:02 PM
Originally posted by DV_8:
Red flags would probably be raised before you even got to a sale because you'd have to register all of these weapons once you move.

Yeah, I'd be scared because I wouldnt want to wake up behind bars....
NOT IF YOU SELL THEM!!!
You should be scared because you're ignorant of the law.
Originally posted at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/ab991.htm

Any person who moves into California and who brings any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person is considered to be a "Personal Handgun Importer" and is required to do one of the following within 60 days:

* Complete and submit a NEW RESIDENT HANDGUN OWNERSHIP REPORT form along with $19.00 ...

* Sell or transfer the handgun(s) to a California licensed firearms dealer or to another individual using a California licensed firearms dealer to conduct the transaction.

Turbinator
10-06-2005, 7:13 AM
So, let's cut to it, who's going to bring in a Cobray PM11 so I could finally buy one? http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Turby

10-07-2005, 12:23 PM
I think I may have discovered another interesting loophole that allows getting off-list handguns into the state. The list does not apply to single-action (cowboy-style) revolvers. The exact wording is in section 12133:

The provisions of this chapter [which describes the safe handgun roster and the safety/magazine disconnect/transfer bar rules]shall not apply to a single-action revolver that has at least a 5-cartridge capacity with a barrel length of not less than three inches, and meets any of the following specifications:
(a) Was originally manufactured prior to 1900 and is a curio or relic, as defined in Section 478.11 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(b) Has an overall length measured parallel to the barrel of at least 7 1/2 inches when the handle, frame or receiver, and barrel are assembled.
(c) Has an overall length measured parallel to the barrel of at least 7 1/2 inches when the handle, frame or receiver, and barrel are assembled and that is currently approved for importation into the United States pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (3) of subsection (d) of Section 925 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

So what happens if I do the following: I take a normal dual-action revolver (for grins, let's say a Colt Python or an old S&W 66), and convert the trigger to single-action only. AFAIK this is technically possible (remove the pawls or levers that cock the hammer). Now I import it into the state as a single-action revolver. Once it is in the state, I see no provision in the law which prevents me from converting a single-action revolver into a dual-action revolver.

Does this set off anyone's alarm bell? It sounds extremely cheaty, but a literal reading of the CA laws seems to allow it.

bwiese
10-07-2005, 12:49 PM
Originally posted by treelogger:
The list does not apply to single-action (cowboy-style) revolvers. The exact wording is in section 12133... {snip}.

So what happens if I do the following: I take a normal dual-action revolver (for grins, let's say a Colt Python or an old S&W 66), and convert the trigger to single-action only. AFAIK this is technically possible (remove the pawls or levers that cock the hammer). Now I import it into the state as a single-action revolver. Once it is in the state, I see no provision in the law which prevents me from converting a single-action revolver into a dual-action revolver.

Does this set off anyone's alarm bell? It sounds extremely cheaty, but a literal reading of the CA laws seems to allow it.

I thought about this awhile back.

In fact I specifically discussed this with senior DOJ Firearms folks (Dir & Asst Dir) a few months ago at an NRA Members Council meeting dinner.

They felt that would be a legal 'artifice' and could still be counted importing an unsafe handgun due to its primary design, esp as courts do consider 'legislative intent' of the law - which was to ban unsafe guns coming in from out of state.

However, converting a Ruger single action to double action would not be a problem (other than its overall usefulness!). That gun was exempt when it came in and you converted it; no law against conversions.

You'd also have a problem finding an FFL to do a out of state transfer of an off-list gun to you.
He's not gonna risk his FFL for a $50 deal, and would call DOJ and eventually get the above answer.

However, that was a fairly casual question quickly answered - but probably right. I should send a formal letter to Riegert, etc. to get the full outline.

Bill Wiese
San Jose

10-07-2005, 2:00 PM
Originally posted by bwiese:
They felt that would be a legal 'artifice' and could still be counted importing an unsafe handgun due to its primary design, esp as courts do consider 'legislative intent' of the law - which was to ban unsafe guns coming in from out of state.

Bill: I think you just put into accurate words (like "artifice" and "legislative intent") that feeling of uneasyess I tried to express by "cheaty". After all, the gun in question is fundamentally a double-action revolver, but the DA function has been temporarily disabled, leaving it SA-only.

However, I think the original (and often unspoken) intent of the safe handgun list was different. If I remember right, it was intended to ban "Saturday night specials" or "cheap junk guns"; the reasoning behind it that violent crimes are commited by one-time-use of inexpensive handguns. As the legislature couldn't find a way to ban all cheap guns (a minimum price of $500 would be unenforcable and economically destructive), they instead assumed that inexpensive guns are also junk guns, and junk guns are as a rule unsafe. So they cloaked the intent behind a gun safety law. Unfortunately, we still have crimes committed with guns, and we are still able to buy inexpensive handguns (I've recently seen $99 specials at Reeds and at Traders), and many (but not all) inexpensive guns are perfectly safe to use. Would you agree with this assessment?

Furthermore, AFAIK very few (or no?) handguns have failed the safety test; note that even the Bryco (which near-killed a boy, which led to the demise of the company) had passed the test. So administering the test serves little purpose.

So in summary, I think the law that created the roster has been an abject failure, both from its stated intent of keeping unsafe guns out of the state, and the hidden intent of preventing crimes from using cheap guns. Its only effect today is to add cost and complexity to handgun purchases.