California is well known for having some of, if not the most, strict gun laws in the nation. With their assault weapons ban, large capacity magazine, and other firearms restrictions, California is downright difficult to own a firearm. And California is frankly one of the states where you would need a firearm the most:
- Total crime in Oakland is over 210% higher than the national average.
- Eleven California cities made the Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities.
- Crime has gone through the roof since California passed Proposition 47.
- Homicides are up roughly 75% in Los Angeles in 2021 over 2019.
Yet, in a state with so many obvious and glaring problems with crime and punishment, guns are absurdly hard to obtain for law-abiding citizens. Until 2014, there was still a loophole that allowed handguns that could be readily converted back to semi-automatic to be sold as a single-shot pistol. But we’ll get to that in a little bit.
CALIFORNIA HANDGUN ROSTER
To keep track of their numerous restrictions, California has a statutory roster of handguns allowed to be bought and sold in the state. But, of course, the question remains whether or not hoodlums on the street are following the same roster. Time will tell.
It is essential to recognize that most pistols on the market are on the roster; the differentiation is that they must comply with the magazine restrictions.
Just like the Brady Bill of 1994, which was a federal capacity limit of ten rounds, all it successfully does is shift the consumer’s interest. You might as well go with a larger caliber pistol with a naturally reduced capacity. Pistols chambered in the classic .45 ACP became popular in the Brady Bill era, and pistols chambered in the then-new .40 S&W.
Glock introduced the G26 and G27 ‘Baby Glocks’ in the 1990s, which were a radical transition away from large-frame handguns. About the size of an S&W J-frame, the Baby Glocks were the smallest package you could buy that maxed out the federal capacity limit. It provided another option for consumers to circumvent useless magazine restriction laws.
ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1964
“Article 4 (commencing with Section 31900) and Article 5 (commencing with Section 32000) shall not apply to a single-shot pistol with a break top or bolt action and a barrel length of not less than six inches and that has an overall length of at least 10½ inches when the handle, frame or receiver, and barrel are assembled.”
The above-quoted text is the current rules regarding single-shot pistols. These pistols are exempt from the roster requirements which are dubiously described as firearm safety requirements which include loaded chamber indicators, magazine disconnect mechanisms, and so on.
One of the biggest downsides, only applicable to law-abiding California citizens, is that manufacturers are no longer producing new guns that are California-compliant. Glock is not making Cali-compliant Gen 5 pistols, S & W is also not making any new-model pistols compliant; it isn’t worth the price of making them compliant because of the process of meeting these arcane demands is expensive. There are plenty of gun buyers in free states to meet the demand, so that is where the focus goes.
After Jerry Brown’s effort to fully close up the loopholes in single-shot exemptions, the only handguns that now qualify are dedicated target pistols and hunting pistols with a break-open action or bolt action. For instance, the TC Contender is the style of pistol that is still allowed to remain off of the roster.
The supposed premise of all of these actions is to increase the overall safeness of the firearms in question…even though modern firearms are proven safe in all other states, armed forces, and police departments all over the world.
Case in point: “Existing law, subject to exceptions, generally makes it an offense to manufacture or sell an unsafe handgun, as defined, and requires the Department of Justice to compile a roster listing all of the handguns that have been tested and determined not to be unsafe handguns.”
The current revised version of the single-shot exemption means that buying a single-shot pistol will relegate you to buying a pistol that was designed to only shoot a single shot. It must be a break-open or bolt action design. These are intended for either target shooting or hunting.