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New Gun Law Goes into Effect with Start of New Year

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SACRAMENTO -- Saturday was the absolute last day Californians could pick up a Armalite Rifle, or AR-15, with a bullet button legally within the state. Starting Sunday, state Senate Bill 880 becomes law reclassifying "bullet button" firearms as assault weapons.

Since Governor Jerry Brown signed that bill into law in July, gun stores across the state have been reporting record sales of the AR-15. But the new law has left many with questions about what they can sell in 2017.

"You know they're making all of the new changes, and it's not good," said Curtis Cook, who is one of dozens picking up an AR-15 at the Rocklin Armory before midnight. "It was the last day you know? I bought it on the 21st, today is the day to pick it up."

"We've had people out the door now for weeks buying guns," said Walter Ford, CEO of the Rocklin Armory.

Ahead of the statewide "bullet button" ban on the popular rifle, Ford said sales have been record breaking.

"As of October we had a certain sales number we reached, we reached 50 percent of that again in three months," Ford said.

Now Ford questions if he'll be able to sell any form of the AR-15 rifle next year. About 10 years ago, the state required AR-15 magazines to be released only with a tool, instead of pushing a button with your finger. That's when manufacturers invented the "bullet button."

But on Jan. 1 the new law reclassifies "bullet button" firearms to be considered assault weapons, thus making them illegal.  The law also states magazines can't be reloaded unless the rifle is disassembled. That's a configuration Ford said manufacturers have figured out.

"This is what came out, there's nothing that will compress or depress, when the gun is in a firing configuration. You pull this pin you break the gun open, now the button can get pushed," Ford showed FOX40 how that new configuration works.

But Ford was not sure if he could sell that version of the A-R-15, because the California Department of Justice has not made any determination on the issue yet.

"Can't sell it, they haven't told us what configuration it has to be in to sell it," Ford said.

That could mean he's stuck with the inventory. Meanwhile Cook believes the new law will do little to prevent mass shootings, which many proponents of the new law have claimed.

"You can go across the (state) lines and get one. And you can buy all the parts, so what's the difference," Cook said.