California Guns Sales Topped 1m Ahead of Bullet Button Ban. Now What?

“In July, state lawmakers passed legislation outlawing rifles equipped with ‘bullet buttons’ that allow for fast reloading,” reports. “The ban did not take effect until January.” Ahead of that day, which has now come to pass, Golden State gun buyers bought guns. A lot of them.

California gun sales rose 50 percent in 2016 as residents rushed to buy the “bullet-button” rifles before they were labeled illegal assault weapons under the Jan. 1 ban. Gun dealers processed 1,331,322 gun sales last year, up by 450,000 from 2015. That’s the equivalent of one gun sold for every 30 California residents.

Last year marked the first time that more than 1 million guns were sold in California in a single year. Long gun sales accounted for the bulk of the rise: Sales doubled from 2015 to almost 760,000. And handgun sales continued what has been a nearly unbroken rise over the decade. Sales rose 18 percent from 2015, to about 573,000.

No surprise there. Firearms sales surge whenever gun rights are threatened. Which begs the question: what will happen to sales now that gun rights are [perceived as] safe?

SHOT Show attendees talked about the current level of gun sales being “the new normal.” The theory: millions of new shooters joined the fold during the Obama years. They’re here to stay. Yes but…

What kind of shooters are they? One-gun-and-done self-defense buyers or newbies-turning-enthusiasts who will look to expand their collections? And what of the hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t own any guns? Will [relatively] hassle-free silencer sales stimulate the forecasted flood of newbies?

Watch this space. Meanwhile, your guess?


  1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

    Now we need a test case……

  2. avatar Isaac says:

    I bought my first gun thanks to anti-gun rhetoric in 2013. Now I own many and plan to own many more. Same goes for a handful of friends and family.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      ^ *This* is how we got Trump!

    2. avatar Arc says:

      This right here is how it usually goes for a lot of people.

    3. avatar PeterW says:

      I bought 2 in 2013 and they finally made a baby this year! A cute baby Glock, well as cute as baby Glocks go…

  3. avatar No one of consequence says:

    I’d guess the HPA will dramatically stimulate suppressor sales but not induce that many people to buy their first gun. I see them, post-HPA, as more of a “must-have” accessory you buy after you’ve already experienced just how loud unmuffled guns can be, than something driving the initial purchase.

    Our next gun for the family will.come “suppressor ready” but how many first-time buyers would pony up a 40% price premium (for instance) for the threaded barrel and raised sights, for what is essentially the same gun?

    1. avatar skoon says:


      I still can’t hear right out of my right ear from shooting deer with my 7mm mag with a muzzle brake and no ear pro

  4. avatar Rokurota says:

    An AR-15 is not a “one and done” gun. It’s the heroin of guns.

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      No, that is the 1911. AR’s are pretty meh. I have bought 5 and sold 5. They don’t hold my interest at all.

      1. avatar SouthernPhantom says:

        I concur. I own one, and don’t really expect to own any more. Leverguns, 1911s, and shotguns interest me more than poodle shooters.

        1. avatar Rokurota says:

          Well, to each his own. But there wouldn’t be such a huge assortment of AR-15 accessories and manufacturers if it wasn’t a rifle people toyed with. I built a beefy midlength, then built a lightweight carbine, then a free floated target shooter. I do sell as many as I buy, but I like building them. True, they are not my favorite gun to shoot. I do prefer wood.

      2. avatar Jeff K says:

        Don’t care for the 1911 or ARs, (heresy, I know) but I am a ‘super owner any how. Lots of different guns get you addicted to the shooting sports.

      3. avatar Ozzallos says:

        You’re doing it wrong. They’re like glocks. You don’t buy them out of love. You buy them because they’re efficient, useful tools. Said so by a guy who loves 1911s and leverguns.

    2. avatar Arc says:

      It can’t do everything or be the best at everything, but it does what the majority of people want and need fairly well and is the best at that. The AR platform at least, not specifically the AR15.

      Barbie Doll for men or the multi-tool of guns.

  5. avatar Waldo says:

    -bullet button
    -fast reloading

    Lol, what?

    1. avatar B Realio says:

      I laughed when I read that as well.

    2. avatar FedUp says:

      Fast reloading = not having to shove the ammo through the open action to get them to the magazine?

  6. avatar Tim says:

    Move to America.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Just visit America and buy an AR without the silly crap and carry it back with you!

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        If you did that, you would be committing a felony, as would the FFL that sold it to you, since sales of long guns in states other than the state of residence must comply with the laws of the state or residence, to wit, California, and those normal rifles of which you speak turn into nasty, gnarly ASSAULT WEAPONS! the moment the cross the state border. Further, although I am admittedly fuzzy n the issue, if you buy a long gun in another state, it has to be shipped to a local FFL in your home state for ultimate delivery. Thanks but no thanks. I like my guns and I do not care to visit the interior of a prison cell.

        1. avatar Jeff K says:

          Depends on the state you live in. Any state that borders mine I can buy a long gun & take it with me; Hand guns need shipped to FFL. Also NO damn regulations on what is legal.

        2. avatar JohnS says:

          @Jeff K

          The ‘adjoining state’ thing has been gone for probably 10 years or more.

          Federal law allows such a transfer in any state, so long as the transfer is legal in the state of the FFL and the states of residence of the transferring parties.

          CA crosses this up by requiring that CA residents use a CA FFL; recent CA law requires that any gun somehow obtained by a CA resident out of state (except: C&R and inheritance, which have reporting requirements) must be run through a CA FFL and ‘redelivered’ to the person.

        3. avatar Jeff K says:

          So two FFLs in one of my adjoining states are wrong? I think that they would know.

  7. avatar HP says:

    So the bullet button feature is no longer available for sale in Commiefornia. Are rifles with the button now illegal? Seems if they are, might as well take it out and put in a regular mag release.

    1. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

      You are spot on. Having a rifle with a bullet button that is not registered as an “Assault Weapon” carries the same penalty as one with a standard mag catch now. Furthermore, how many of those 1.3million guns are going to actually registered? My guess it almost none.

      1. avatar No one of consequence says:

        Well, except that they were registered with CA during the purchase process. So the state, at some level, already knows about them.

        1. avatar HP says:

          That seems odd, why would they want people to register rifles if they are already registered upon purchase by the state?

        2. avatar No one of consequence says:

          I think it’s called entrapment…?

          Honestly I’m not sure other than different databases and more ways for the innocent law-abiding to commit a technical foul. And I may be wrong; I’ve only ever purchased a pistol in CA (rifles came after we moved), so I might be misremembering whether it is / was required for long guns too. When it comes to CA I tend to assume the more restrictive provision is probably the accurate one…

        3. avatar Son of Alan says:

          Rifle registration in California started in 2014. So if you have pre-2014 lowers purchased, CA-DOJ will have no record of them.

        4. avatar Anon in CT says:

          Same thing we had in CT in 2013.

          So far, it doesn’t look like the state has been comparing the “regular” registry against the AW registry, but one day they might.

      2. avatar HP says:

        It will likely be like New York, with mass non-compliance. People don’t buy AR-15’s only turn right back around and register them so they can be confiscated with the next batch of liberal gun infringements.

        1. avatar BLAMMO says:

          This is why it’s a good idea to have a healthy supply of stripped lowers on hand. You can always do whatever you want with them later. Everything else is just parts you can order anytime.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      Under the new law, such rifles are still legal for the next year, during which they must be registered as “assault weapons” or RAWs. If not registered by the deadline, they become illegal assault weapons and carry a felony charge for mere possession, unless converted to a “featureless” configuration. No rifle may be sold in the state which has a bullet button after 1/1/17, and no RAW may be sold, given away, or passed on by inheritance to anyone in the State. They can only be transferred out of state or turned into the police for destruction. Featureless rifles are not subject to any of these restrictions, so we anticipate that there will be many conversions and thus nonregistration.

      Finally, the DOJ has issued regulations on the various aspects of the new law, all of which are being challenged as exceeding the scope of the DOJ’s authorization. Among them is a specific provision that bullet buttons MAY NOT be removed from a RAW. Further, they have added a provision requiring filing multiple photos of each gun being registered, the apparent purpose of which is to “freeze” the rifle in a particular configuration, even though the DOJ is well aware that uppers are easily swapped, as well as all of the other aspects of the foreend.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Yeah move. That’s all I got.

  9. avatar Nigel out in the cold says:

    Third pin and a bullet button.

    that has to be painful…

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      WTF is the third pin?

      1. avatar Son of Alan says:

        Third pin is the one above the selector. It means it has an auto sear AKA a machine gun.

  10. avatar No one of consequence says:

    What’s interesting to me is that, if I understand CA’s current law properly, a bullet button AR can’t be sold or otherwise transferred in-state now. So this basically means none of these were purchased with the intent of reselling later. (I guess you can sell to someone out of state, but why would anyone out of the state buy one?)

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Because it is exceedingly simple to remove a bullet button and replace it with a regular mag release. Takes maybe five minutes.

  11. avatar WILCO says:

    California has always puzzled me at the amount of resources and time they have dedicated to guns laws. You would think that the state doesn’t have any other problems that could use such vigor and attention but that’s not the case. These are just obstacles for Sam the law abiding citizen, not Henry the Gang banger.

    1. avatar Soylent Green says:

      heh heh…I’m guessing the name “Henry” does not have a high frequency of occurrence among gang bangers.

  12. avatar Noishkel says:

    President Trump should pull an Obama and start pulling federal funding ever day any gun control law stays on the books in California.

    The Regressive leftist trash want to use that tactic over a really poorly thought out bathroom access plan. Might as well use it against something that’s an actual enumerated right.

  13. avatar TruthTellers says:

    Had HIlary won would I be buying more guns? IDK, I was trying to be ahead of the curve with purchases last year, now I’m in a spot where what I want likely would never be banned under either a Trump or Hilary presidency. Thus, I’m not in a rush to buy them because barring the manufacturers discontinuing them, they’re always going to be available.

  14. avatar michi says:

    I started with one in 2013 as well due to the rumblings of an AWB, and suddenly learning what the whole AWB thing really was..

    Was anti-gun before that.

    Now I have a walk in closet dedicated to guns. And I’m trying to figure out how to work an H&K SP5k into my budget.

  15. avatar Rswartze says:

    Since all of the guns I currently own were purchased during the Obama years, I feel my collecting must continue to prove that I’m not a racist.

    1. avatar HP says:

      I like where your head’s at.

  16. avatar Charlie says:

    I’m nowhere near California, but Bill Clinton should’ve got a commission for selling me my first few guns. Nothing makes people want to buy stuff quite like the threat of making it illegal someday. If “more guns” is somehow bad for public safety (let’s assume as a thought experiment for the sake of argument), then a politician screeching nonstop for tightening up the gun laws is highly counter-productive. Better to mellow out and focus on something completely unrelated.

  17. avatar jsf001 says:

    Does Having a bullet button on your rifle mean you can have a magazine with over 10 rnds in it because it’s now an internal magazine or is it simply the firearm is not considered an “assault weapon”? Also what’s CA qualifications for AW now a days?

    1. avatar JohnS says:

      ‘Bullet buttoned’ rifles do not meet the new, 2017 requirement for a ‘fixed magazine’, so they have all become ‘assault weapons’.

      July 1, 2017, CA ‘large-capacity’ magazines (11+) become illegal to possess. But until then, yes, should be able to use them in ‘bullet button equipped’ rifles.

      As to what is now a CA ‘assault weapon’, I refer you to Penal Code Section 30515,, and I most sincerely wish you good luck in understanding it.

      1. avatar jsf001 says:

        Thanks that link answers my question pretty well. Looks like my idea for a new type of CA compliant quick reload magazine would still be legal in CA without qualifying the rifle as an AW. I was hoping it could by pass the limit too but that’s not happening

  18. avatar Hannibal says:

    Can Alabama deny black people the right to vote? No? Then how about we bring Commiefornia (and New Yawk, etc) back in to the country where the 2nd Amendment exists.

    Respect for the 2nd, 1st and 4th Amendments are the only things I care about when Justices are being nominated now. And the 2nd is ahead of the other two because it’s the one the Democrats care most about killing.

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