Penal Code 32900 PC | Bump Stocks

Penal Code 32900 PC | Bump Stocks

California Penal Code 32900, also known as the “bump stock ban,” makes it illegal to manufacture, cause to be manufactured, import, keep for sale, offer or expose for sale, or give or lend any bump stock in the state of California. But what exactly are bump stocks, and why are they banned? Let’s take a look.

What are Bump Stocks?

A bump stock is an attachment that allows a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more rapidly, essentially turning it into an automatic weapon. It works by using the recoil of the gun to “bump” the trigger against the shooter’s stationary finger, causing continuous fire.

Bump stocks came under scrutiny after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. The shooter had outfitted his weapons with bump stocks, allowing him to fire hundreds of rounds per minute into the crowd of concertgoers. This raised questions about the legality and dangers of these devices.

History of the Ban in California

In response to the Las Vegas tragedy, California passed Penal Code 32900 in 2019 to outlaw bump stocks. Supporters argued that there was no legitimate use for these devices except to maximize casualties. While opponents raised concerns about infringing on 2nd Amendment rights, public safety ultimately prevailed.

California was not the first state to ban bump stocks – Massachusetts, New Jersey, and others had already passed similar laws. But California’s large population meant their bump stock ban would have a significant impact. It set an example that was followed by other states and eventually the federal government.

Details of California’s Bump Stock Ban

Penal Code 32900 specifically bans bump stocks and makes it a crime to possess them. Let’s break it down:

  • It is illegal to manufacture, cause to be manufactured, import, keep for sale, offer or expose for sale, or give or lend any bump stock. This covers making, selling, or giving away bump stocks.
  • You cannot possess any bump stock. Simply having one or keeping one in your home is against the law.
  • There is no grandfather clause. Even if you obtained your bump stock legally before the ban, it is now contraband.
  • Violating PC 32900 is a felony punishable by imprisonment.

The only exception is for those who surrender their bump stock to law enforcement. There was a grace period to turn them in without penalty when the law first passed.

Arguments Around Bump Stock Ban

California’s bump stock ban did not pass without controversy. Opponents raised several concerns:

  • A bump stock does not actually convert a firearm to fully automatic, so banning it does not prevent ownership of machine guns.
  • Most gun owners use bump stocks recreationally for fun, not to commit crimes.
  • It could open the door to banning other firearm accessories like triggers or magazines.
  • It unfairly penalizes law abiding gun owners who purchased them legally.

However, proponents of the bump stock ban argued it was a common-sense way to reduce the potential for mass shootings. Limiting the ability to mimic fully automatic fire could save lives in a crisis situation. And they contended that no one needs bump stocks for hunting, self-defense, or other legitimate uses.

Defenses to Bump Stock Charges

Because possession of a bump stock is a felony, anyone facing charges under PC 32900 should seek legal defense immediately. Here are some potential defenses to explore:

  • You did not actually possess the bump stock – it belonged to someone else.
  • You were not aware the bump stock was illegal – you thought it “grandfathered in.”
  • You already turned the bump stock over to law enforcement during the grace period.
  • The device in question does not actually meet the definition of a bump stock.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the specifics of your case and build the strongest defense. They may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed.

The Future of Bump Stock Laws

California’s bump stock ban paved the way for similar federal regulations. In 2019, the ATF issued a final rule banning bump stocks nationwide. However, some states have chosen not to enact their own bans. The legality of bump stocks is still evolving and open to interpretation in some parts of the country.

As technology advances, there may be new devices that mimic automatic fire in different ways. Legislators will likely try to close any loopholes that allow unchecked rapid fire. But the debate continues around how to balance public safety with 2nd Amendment rights. California’s bump stock ban was an early victory for gun control advocates, but the broader controversy still rages on.


California Department of Justice page on bump stock laws

Shouse California Law Group article on bump stock defenses

ATF final rule on federal bump stock ban