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View Full Version : Hi-capacity magazines...legal to possess?


TonyNorCal
02-24-2005, 7:40 PM
I know it's illegal to buy hi-cap mags, but is it legal to have some in your possession (and take them to the range to shoot). In other words, does a Hi-cap magazine, loaded, and in your weapon constitute a violation of the law?

Any difference in how this applies handguns versus rifles?

Thanks

TonyNorCal
02-24-2005, 7:40 PM
I know it's illegal to buy hi-cap mags, but is it legal to have some in your possession (and take them to the range to shoot). In other words, does a Hi-cap magazine, loaded, and in your weapon constitute a violation of the law?

Any difference in how this applies handguns versus rifles?

Thanks

drm600
02-24-2005, 8:12 PM
legal to posess as long as you had acquired them before the ban.

rkt88edmo
02-24-2005, 8:25 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Tony:
In other words, does a Hi-cap magazine, loaded, and in your weapon constitute a violation of the law?
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

As long as it isn't loaded and in your firearm while you drive either.

bwiese
02-25-2005, 10:41 AM
Mere simple possession and/or use of an ordinary hi-cap magazine is perfectly legal. Importing one into CA on or after 1 Jan 2000 or acquiring one in-state on/after this date is illegal.

If it could be demonstrated (esp. via manufacturing date, testimony, toolmarks/finish, etc.) that you somehow acquired one or more hicap mags on/after 1 Jan 00, then you have a problem.

People go to gun ranges and shoot hicap mags in their pistols, regular rifles & legally-owned/registered CA 'assault weapons' perfectly legally all day long.

Note that possession of a legally registered assault weapon in CA does NOT entitle you to acquire hicap mags for it after 1/1/00. You had to have the mags for it before that date too.
It's also perfectly legal to own (as long as acquired before 1/1/00) assault weapon magazines, for AWs you don't own, without any paperwork or registration. (I do suspect there are quite a few folks that got AWs regd by cutoff date but somehow didn't manage to get hicap mags. These people are out of luck in CA.)

There's only a couple of minor provisos for some very exceptional circumstances:<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI> installation or replacment of a hicap mag, either detachable or fixed, in a nonregistered semiauto rifle that has a pistol grip - like a "California FAL" clone. You've just created an (llegal) AW in CA if you've done that. Such rifles can have only fixed mags of 10rds or less.
<LI> Regardless of state law(s), Federal law [sec 922(r)/ 27CFR178.39] regulates domestic vs. imported parts content on certain 'nonsporting' rifles - the "10 or less key foreign parts" game. Some rifles (FAL, AK and HK variants) are built with just enough US-mfgd 'compliance parts' that they require magazines with US-mfgd followers and base plates to keep the proper domestic parts content. Putting a foreign-made mag (hicap or otherwise) would then change the domestic/foreign parts balance, with the foreign parts count greater than 10 - which would be illegal.
<LI> Hicap mags marked as "Law Enforcement Only" or having a manufacturing date after Sep 13 1994 were banned from civilian/non-LEO use & acquisition until the Fed AW ban "sunset" a few months ago in Sept 2004. Possession of these would indicate one of two forms of illegal possession, either (1) you got these hicaps between mfg date and 9/13/2004 and certainly possessed them in violation of Federal law; or (2) you got them after 9/13/2004 after the Fed law sunset and just violated California law. I don't think violation of (1) above will result in any Fed charges but those could be used against you if other related charges were pending.
[/list]


Bill Wiese
San Jose

jlwatts3
03-14-2005, 3:01 PM
I have a Springfield XD9 subcompact.Theoretically, you can get a .40 cal magazine and bend the feed lips in and it will hold 12 rounds of 9mm. Is this kosher?

bwiese
03-14-2005, 3:16 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by jlwatts3:
I have a Springfield XD9 subcompact. Theoretically, you can get a .40 cal magazine and bend the feed lips in and it will hold 12 rounds of 9mm. Is this kosher? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That may well be considered manufacture of a hicap magazine. I would be very leery of this.
This is really up to the prosecuting DA in your county - some would love to make new gun law.

The 'legislative intent' of the CA hicap mag ban was to reduce # of hicap mags in state. Your gun, with mismatched mag, and accepting of more than 10rds, could be a prima facie case of a hicap mag made after 1/1/2000.

There is some Federal precedence for this that could be quoted in court as support for this stance, too. As I recall, BATF rules - during the 1994-2004 Fed. "Crime Bill" assault weapon/hicap mag ban - considered misuse of postban magazines in incorrect calibers as a no-no. I believe this was brought up due to 10rd H&K USP 40 mags being able to hold 12? 13? rnds of 9mm and work in HK USP9 pistols, etc. - Due to post-1994 hicap mag crisis many folks were trying all sorts of 'retrofits'. Also, it resulted in ruling that mags that were modified to work in another gun must STILL work in the original gun - a la the M1A/M14 mags used in Armalite AR10s - otherwise a new hicap would've been illegally 'manufactured'.

While the Fed AW Ban law sunset, I'd bet some of the legal issues surrounding it are still on the books and could somehow float down into state case law as 'guidance'.

Bill Wiese
San Jose

jnojr
03-15-2005, 9:52 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by jlwatts3:
I have a Springfield XD9 subcompact.Theoretically, you can get a .40 cal magazine and bend the feed lips in and it will hold 12 rounds of 9mm. Is this kosher? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

IANAL, but I'm going to say "no". "Bending the feed lips" is making a modification.

A better question is, if i get a Bar-Sto 9mm barrel for my SIG 2340, the magazines that come with it will hold 12 rounds of 9mm ammo with no modification whatsoever. How would that be viewed?!?! http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Keep our fingers crossed for AB448. If it passes, we're golden. Here's to hoping!

bwiese
03-15-2005, 10:28 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">A better question is, if i get a BarSto 9mm barrel for my SIG 2340, the magazines that come with it will hold 12 rounds of 9mm ammo with no modification whatsoever. How would that be viewed?!?! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am not sure how CA might regard that. We're dealing w/real edge conditions here. And remember, even Cal DOJ says to remember there's 58 District Attorneys out there!!!

Actually, if you had these mags before 1/1/2000
and used in this 'enhanced' mode you conceivably are OK - although likely violating BATF rules in place at the time (though now sunset).

And yes, expired BATF rules _can_ be used as court guidance in CA.

I recall seeing somewhere BATF saying that even aside from modifications, misusing a mag in wrong caliber is essentially constructing a hicap.

I do doubt this aspect would come up on the radar, though, if you were busted - you'd've been busted for something else and this may difficult to detect. Your SigPro 2340 would be marked 357Sig or 40S&W with the appropriate mag. Someone would have to look real hard to find it was a 9mm barrel http://calguns.net/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif esp after cops unloaded gun for safekeeping/evidence.

Bill Wiese
San Jose

Bill Wiese
San Jose