The wiki has a long article: Large-capacity magazine restrictions
and there is a long thread
here at Calguns but for those people who find themselves unable to click on a link:
- California restricts certain things about magazines greater than 10 rounds; it has created a silly legal name for them - "large-capacity magazines" - and says we 'regular people' cannot import, sell, buy (effective 2014), or manufacture them. ("Dealer" FFLs may get licenses from DOJ for these activities; curio and relic licensees cannot.) The restriction applies to both centerfire and rimfire weapons.
- It is perfectly legal - no restrictions at all in the Penal Code - to own and possess and use those "large-capacity magazines" in any gun*(see footnote), at any time, under any circumstances where it is legal to use a gun. Ownership, possession and use of "large-capacity magazines" are not crimes in PC; there is no section under which you could be charged.
There was language in 2013's AB 48 that would have banned large-capacity magazines; that language did not become law for 2014. But one other change did occur through that bill: the Penal Code was amended to prohibit 'buy'[ing]' a large-capacity magazine; that had been omitted before.
2014: There are now some laws in place - Sunnyvale and San Francisco - banning possession of large-capacity magazines; these are being challenged, but while in court, they are still in effect.
September 19, 2015, the City of Los Angeles ordinance banning possession took effect. The lawsuit challenging this was filed Oct 23, 2015: Bosenko v City of Los Angeles; see the litigation forum for events in the case.
- Those who own "large-capacity magazines" are not required to keep records or receipts, and not required to explain how they got them.
- The age of the magazine and the age of the gun mean nothing. The critical item is possession of the magazine(s) in California before January 1, 2000.
- Yes, you can go out of state and buy magazines of any capacity - but you may not bring "large-capacity magazines" back to CA - that would be importing and that can be charged as a felony. 'Importing' ALSO applies to moving here or visiting here. Buying and disassembling and bringing the magazines back to California after JAN 1, 2014 (AB 48) appears to be illegally importing a 'kit' .
- YES, you may keep any 'parts kits' you own before Jan 1, 2014. It appears that acquiring a 'parts kit' by any means is illegal from 2014 forward.
Separate parts: We do not know, nor can we guess, what is the definition of a 'large capacity magazine conversion kit'. We do not know if just a body, or just a spring, or just a baseplate, or just a follower might be enough. Until we get a court case with clarification - and I promise, such a case will get very prominent discussion! - there is no point in asking the FAQ.
- Yes, you can take one of those kits you possessed in California before Jan 1, 2014 and create a 10-round magazine from the parts and some method of blocking the capacity; (Example deleted - bit rot). The modification is supposed to be 'permanent', but there is no guidance on what that means in law, regulation, or court cases. Use your best judgement.
- You can have "large-capacity magazines"; no one may give them or sell them to you in California, and you may not give or sell them to anyone else in California; the law changed to be more specific in 2014: you may not buy or receive them. This includes sales from LEO and intrafamilial transfers - that can be charged as a felony.
- There is no such thing as a "pre-ban" or "post-ban" "large-capacity magazine", and it doesn't matter. Markings on magazines have no legal meaning.
- If you acquire large-capacity magazines legally, for example as a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), yes, you may keep those magazines and continue to use them when/if you are no longer a LEO.
If you think your legal question has not been answered, follow the links at the top of this post and read the articles, then re-read items (2) and (3) above several times. Other questions are addressed below.
Note: it is not a part of the "large-capacity magazine" law, but part of the 'assault weapon' law that says a semiautomatic, centerfire
rifle with a fixed magazine that holds more than 10 rounds is an 'assault weapon'. (This is not a magazine
restriction, this is an assault weapon
restriction, that happens to include magazine capacity.)
That means that
- if your otherwise legal semiautomatic, centerfire rifle has a magazine lock, such as a 'bullet button',
- and you use a "large-capacity magazine" in that weapon, (which, because of the magazine lock is effectively a fixed magazine rifle)
- then you will have manufactured an 'assault weapon'.
- That's a felony. Don't do that.
NOTE: A Registered Assault Weapon (RAW) is already an 'assault weapon', and not included in this problem. If you have a RAW, use any magazine you legally own.
Sept 8, 2011 ETA
Political and Meta-legal items
- No, there is no 'expiration date' or 'sunset' on the magazine law.
- No, there is no possibility the law will be repealed with the Legislature we have in 2015.
- No, there is no current lawsuit in place or planned on the topic - mostly because gun rights litigators in CA have higher priorities. There are lawsuits in progress regarding the Sunnyvale and San Francisco 'possession ban' but not yet any challenges to the State law on large-capacity magazines.
The 'nuisance' language
in the renumbered Penal Code: this appears to be worrisome; please see this later post
in this thread for a longer discussion.