No one is surprised that the California gun registration website crashed and burned last week, but that doesn’t make it any better for the thousands of Golden State gun owners who unwillingly (or unwittingly) became criminals on July 1st.
Hundreds of individuals contacted the NRA-ILA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association in the wake of the July 1st deadline. Some reported constant crashes and errors while using the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS), and others reported being granted access to personal information that did not belong to them.
“In some cases, the system allowed users to see all the personal information (including home address, telephone number, email, and Driver’s License number) for another user and all the information that user had submitted for registering their firearms as ‘assault weapons,’” according to the NRA-ILA.
Franklin Armory’s Jay Jacobson summed it up for a Bay Area CBS affiliate: “Everybody that’s doing this is doing so to comply, they have a willingness to follow the law. And yet they’re making it as difficult as possible,” he said.
New California law required owners of certain semi-automatic rifles fitted with “bullet buttons” to register their firearms with the Department of Justice before July 1. GunsAmerica submitted a California DOJ public records request to determine how many individuals had registered, and we received a response this week.
A grand total of 6,213 individuals successfully registered 13,519 “assault weapons” before the deadline, according to Deputy Attorney General Robert D. Wilson. That number does not include registrations that, like Jacobson’s, have been held up, but Jacobson still says he’s “stunned that the number is so low.”
“They are, quite frankly, manipulating the application process to restrict the number of people who would successfully complete the process,” Jacobson told GunsAmerica. “I would be willing to bet that more people have applied and have not received their permit yet due to manipulation by the department.”
By “manipulation,” Jacobson means that bureaucrats in the DOJ are trying to create regulations that do not comport with the law. In his case, the DOJ has been holding up registration on one of his rifles, he believes, because they’re classifying a stock with an adjustable length of pull as a “telescoping stock” (pictured above). The real problem is that because it’s already outfitted with a pistol grip, it shouldn’t matter what kind of stock it has: it’s an “assault weapon” that must be registered, and Jacobson is trying to do so.
“They have no right to deny an application because they feel that that’s a feature that I didn’t check on the form. For them to harass a gun owner by saying, ‘You didn’t check the right box,’ they are outside the bounds and they’re going to pay a price for that,” he said. “It’s not right. The bottom line is, I respect the government that follows the law. I don’t respect the government that is willing to subvert the law to their own ambition.”
After website malfunctions, data breaches, and the threat of legal prosecution, many Californians have also likely opted not to comply with the law or to modify their semi-automatic rifles to make them compliant.
The NRA-ILA released a bulletin outlining the options for those who failed or were unable to register before July 1st. Along with modification, gun owners can disassemble their rifles, sell them, transfer them out of state, or surrender them to law enforcement. Registration is no longer an option.
Jacobson told CBS he’s tried unsuccessfully to register his AR-15 three separate times. In all three instances, his registration attempts were delayed, but he wasn’t given a rationale. When we spoke to Jacobson two weeks after his CBS interview, the status of his registrations hadn’t changed.
“I look forward to the day when we have a legitimately-run attorney general’s office in the state of California,” Jacobson said. “We haven’t had that for a long time.”
UPDATE 7/12/18: The Second Amendment Foundation along with several other pro-gun groups sued the Attorney General and the state DOJ requesting an injunction on the bullet-button registration mandate until the broken website is fully and reliably operational. Read more here.