The California Department of Justice issued a cease-and-desist letter this week to an Orange County gunmaker that it claims is trying to take advantage of a loophole in the state’s “assault weapons” law.
Juggernaut Tactical recently began selling a “Featureless Series” of rifles fitted with what looks like a standard pistol grip. Pistol grips are considered one of the features of an “assault rifle” in California, which are banned in the state.
Two months after receiving notice about Juggernaut Tactical’s new rifles, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a cease-and-desist letter informing the company that its interpretation of the pistol grip law is incorrect.
“Our assault weapons ban is a landmark piece of legislation that has saved the lives of countless Californians — firearms manufacturers can’t ignore the law simply because it suits their bottom line,” Bonta said. “In California, our firearm regulations were written with the safety of the public and the rights of responsible gun owners in mind. Rather than abide by the law, Juggernaut chose to disregard it by manufacturing and selling a series of illegal assault weapons. Today’s cease-and-desist letter is a warning that we hope is heeded so that no further action becomes necessary.”
GunsAmerica reached out to Juggernaut Tactical but did not receive a response by publication time.
Juggernaut’s Featureless Series relies on a specific interpretation of California’s definition of “pistol grip.” California law stipulates that a pistol grip is “a grip that allows for a pistol style grasp in which the web of the trigger hand (between the thumb and index finger) can be placed beneath or below the top of the exposed portion of the trigger while firing.”
Juggernaut argues in an explainer posted on its website that Featureless Series rifles are not fitted with pistol grips because the web of the hand is placed above the top exposed portion of the trigger. By lowering the receiver just a few inches, Juggernaut claims to have designed a rifle that is not outfitted with a pistol grip.
“After a deep dive into California’s assault weapon laws and regulations, we feel we’re on pretty solid ground,” the company says on its website.
Not surprisingly, the California DOJ disagrees.
“Juggernaut’s website acknowledges that Juggernaut is trying to effectively rewrite the applicable regulatory definition to make its ‘Featureless Series’ rifles fall outside the definition of an assault weapon,” Luis Lopez, director of the agency’s bureau of firearms, said in the cease-and-desist letter. “Juggernaut’s website makes clear that the justification for the legality of its ‘Featureless Series’ rifles is based on a regulatory definition that Juggernaut wishes existed, as opposed to the one that currently exists in law.”
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Juggernaut argues that the proper interpretation of “can be placed” should be “is intended to be placed.” Since Featureless Series rifles are designed to be used with the web of the hand above the top of the trigger, they believe their rifles fall outside the state’s definition of “assault weapon.”
Bonta is requesting proof of the following, and he makes clear that he won’t exempt Juggernaut customers who have already purchased a Featureless rifle:
- Stop offering for sale on its website the F-9, F-10, and F-15 rifles;
- Cancel all pending purchases of the F-9, F-10, and F-15 rifles from its website;
- Notify anyone who has completed an online purchase of an F-9, F-10, or F-15 rifle and has been delivered the rifle that they are in violation of California law; and
- Retrieve and recover all F-9, F-10, and F-15 rifles already delivered to any California firearms dealer or any other entity that would sell the rifles in California.