If you've been maintaining the fantasy of the Left Coast being immune from the gun-toting scariness of the more Trump-friendly regions of the country, you may be surprised to learn that gun sales have boomed this year in California compared to last year, likely following a series of gun control bills signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in July. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that sales of rifles with "bullet buttons" for quicker swapping of ammunition magazines one type of gun feature that will soon be banned under a new law have soared 40 percent year over year, as of December. And sales of semi-automatic rifles have more than doubled in the same period, with 364,643 as of December 9 according to the CA Department of Justice, up from 153,931 in 2015.
The six new gun control laws were spurred in part by the mass shooting in San Bernardino last year, and they included a new background check requirement for ammunition sales, and a ban on all high-capacity ammunition magazines, which owners will need to either sell out of state, destroy, or turn over to law enforcement officials within a year of the law taking effect.
The Press-Democrat got a video explainer from Chris Ostrom of Pacific Outfitters in Ukiah, as shown above, in which Ostrom explains the "evil" features that are being banned under the new law, as of 2018, when it comes to assault weapons. As he explains, prospective gun buyers who still want these features, like the "bullet button," have to register the weapon as an assault weapon, and then they are prohibited from willing the gun or selling the gun to anyone else. "The gun dies with you" is how he puts it.
Ostrom explains that such guns can be rendered "featureless" with some modifications which means they would not have to be registered, but he tells the paper he's skeptical about the erosion of Second Amendment rights in general. "They theory is the state is building a list so they can someday take people’s guns away," he says, echoing the theories of many gun advocates.
Detractors of the laws also point to the fact that it's only law-abiding people who are going to be impacted by them, arguing that criminals aren't likely to voluntarily take steps to be compliant. But legislators hope the laws lead to fewer assault-style military weapons on the streets overall.
But the fact that nearly 1 million firearms had been purchased in California as of December 9, compared to 700,000 in all of last year, is a disturbing one, and one that suggests people instinctually try to stock up on things when they fear a shortage or ahead of a ban, as it were. And why would they do that if they were intending to comply with the laws when they take effect?