This blog is inspired by something someone said on Facebook yesterday. While, of course, I responded with the face that the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with the “right” to participate in a sport, or hunt, it got me thinking.
Could you buy an Olympic qualifying rifle or pistol in California? Let’s find out.
The rules for all Olympic shooting sports are set out by the ISSF – the International Shooting Sports Foundation. They have lots of rules on caliber, performance, and modifications. I started really digging into the research, and found that I didn’t need to delve any further when I found a document entitled “Olympic Pistol Exemptions from “Unsafe Handgun” (§12125 PC) and Assault Weapon (§12275 PC) Statutory Provisions.”
Some of you may not know what an “unsafe handgun” is. Well, in California, according to Penal Code section 12131(a), on and after January 1, 2001, the Department of Justice shall compile, publish, and thereafter maintain a roster listing all of the pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person that have been tested by a certified testing laboratory, have been determined not to be unsafe handguns, and may be sold in this state pursuant to this title. The roster shall list, for each firearm, the manufacturer, model number, and model name.
But, California (you may ask), what is an unsafe handgun? Penal Code section 12126 defines the term “unsafe handgun” as meaning any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 12001, for which any of series of enumerated criteria is true. The criteria are categorized by handgun type:
For a pistol:
(1) It does not have a positive manually operated safety device, as determined by standards relating to imported guns promulgated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
(2) It does not meet the firing requirement for handguns pursuant to Section 12127.
(3) It does not meet the drop safety requirement for handguns pursuant to Section 12128.
(4) Commencing January 1, 2006, for a center-fire semiautomatic pistol that is not already listed on the roster pursuant to Section 12131, it does not have either a chamber load indicator, or a magazine disconnect mechanism.
(5) Commencing January 1, 2007, for all center-fire semiautomatic pistols that are not already listed on the roster pursuant to Section 12131, it does not have both a chamber load indicator and if it has a detachable magazine, a magazine disconnect mechanism.
(6) Commencing January 1, 2006, for all rimfire semiautomatic pistols that are not already listed on the roster pursuant to Section 12131, it does not have a magazine disconnect mechanism, if it has a detachable magazine.
So that’s your primer. California has gone way out if its way to create an entire secondary level of “safety” testing for pistols sold in the state, which sits on top of the already stringent testing done by all gun manufacturers because, obviously, they don’t want to get sued!
Under these regulations, none of the Olympic/match grade pistols could be sold in California. Apparently someone realized that and came up with the “Olympic Pistol Exemptions.” Mmmm hmmm. So it is unsafe because they haven’t paid the
protection money registration fees to the State of California…except for this list that is safe because they are used in Olympic competitions.
So the answer to my question is no – you can’t buy an Olympic qualifying pistol/rifle in California, unless it is on the “California approved” exemption list. Which was last updated in 2011. So…if you want the latest and greatest in shooting equipment, and you live in California – you’re out of luck. Just look at the Olympic swimsuits. Those things change every year! New fabric, technology, cut…well, if your pistol even changes color, it’s off the list, so any innovation is going to put our California athletes at least a year behind other competitors.
Interesting to think about.