With limited exceptions, California law prohibits any person from manufacturing, importing into the state, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, giving, lending, buying, or receiving a large capacity magazine.1 (A “large capacity magazine” is defined as any ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than ten rounds, with exceptions for any .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device, any feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than ten rounds, or any tubular magazine that is contained in a lever-action firearm).2
In 2016, California voters also passed Proposition 63, which (among many other gun safety reforms) generally prohibited possession of large capacity magazines starting on July 1, 2017.3 The Legislature had previously permitted people to remain in lawful possession of large capacity magazines if they were lawfully obtained before 2000, but because most of these magazines do not have identifying marks to indicate when they were manufactured or sold, law enforcement agencies indicated that this loophole had made enforcement of the broader law nearly impossible in many cases and that unlawful possession of large capacity magazines remained a threat to public safety as a result). Proposition 63 required individuals who owned large capacity magazines to permanently alter them so they cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds or to otherwise dispose of them before July 1, 2017 by selling them to a licensed firearms dealer, transferring them to law enforcement, removing them from the state, or destroying them.4
**Note that enforcement of Proposition 63’s restrictions on possession of large-capacity magazines have been delayed pending an ongoing legal challenge by the NRA’s California affiliate. To learn more about this case and the Giffords Law Center’s work to defend Proposition 63, visit our Duncan v. Becerra summary page.**
California law also generally prohibits any person from manufacturing, importing into the state, selling, giving, lending, buying, or receiving, any large capacity magazine conversion kit. A “large capacity magazine conversion kit” is defined as a device, or combination of parts from a fully-functioning large capacity magazine, capable of converting an ammunition feeding device into a large capacity magazine.5
Upon a showing of good cause, the California Department of Justice may issue permits for the possession, transportation, or sale of large capacity ammunition magazines between a licensed California firearms dealer and an out-of-state customer.6
Large capacity magazines may be manufactured for any federal, state, or local government or law enforcement agency, the military, or for use by agency employees in the discharge of their official duties, whether on or off duty.7 Large capacity magazines may also be purchased or loaned for the sole use as a motion picture, television or video prop.8 Such magazines may also be resold to law enforcement agencies, government agencies, or the military, pursuant to applicable federal regulations.9
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- Cal. Penal Code § 32310. Note that while these provisions are still in effect, there is an ongoing lawsuit to challenge them (brought by the NRA’s California affiliate). Most recently, a divided 3-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined that California’s restrictions on magazines holding more than 10 rounds are unconstitutional, departing from the decisions of five other federal appeals courts to uphold similar laws. See Duncan v. Becerra, 970 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 2020), pet. for en banc reh’g filed, No. 19-55376, Dkt. 100 (Aug. 28, 2020). The state of California is seeking to get that decision reversed by an 11-judge en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit. To learn more about this case and the Giffords Law Center’s work to defend California’s magazine law, visit our Duncan v. Becerra summary page.
- Cal. Penal Code § 16740.
- See Cal. Penal Code §§ 32310(c), (d).
- Id.; Cal. Penal Code § 16740(a) (excluding from the definition of “large-capacity magazine” any ammunition feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds).
- Cal. Penal Code § 32311.
- Cal. Penal Code § 32315. The requirements for demonstrating “good cause” are set out at Cal. Code Regs. tit. 11, § 5480.
- Cal. Penal Code § 32440.
- Cal. Penal Code §§ 32445, 32450.
- Cal. Penal Code § 32450(c). For additional large capacity ammunition magazine regulations, see Cal. Code Regs. tit. 11, §§ 5480–84.