SHASTA COUNTY -- Gun rights advocates are blaming the state Attorney General and the state Justice Department for a malfunctioning website that caused assault weapon owners to miss a crucial registration deadline.
Gun rights groups are asking that the deadline be extended and because they haven’t gotten an answer, they’ve filed a lawsuit asking a judge to stop enforcement of a law requiring the registration of assault weapons that have the controversial ‘bullet button’ feature that allows shooters to change ammunition magazine quickly.
The lawsuit argues that those who want to register their guns legally are now being penalized.
They are called bullet buttons because a pointy object, most commonly a bullet, is used to activate a button which ejects an assault weapon magazine.
Using a tool to slow down a magazine exchange was designed to slow down a gunman in a mass shooting incident.
But then terrorists used bullet button weapons to kill 14 people and injure 22 in San Bernardino in 2015.
A law was passed requiring those who had them to register them. But an Attorney General’s website set up to register them stopped working a week before the June 30th deadline.
A class action lawsuit by several gun owners claiming they tried for hours and sometimes days to register their bullet button assault weapons online to no avail. Help lines went unanswered.
After the deadline, they were told only that they missed the deadline, technically making them guilty of felonies.
“It’s not even the only website run by the DOJ that doesn’t work,” said Chris Lapinski.
Lapinski is an outspoken gun rights advocate and operations manager at Last Stand Tactical.
He says the Department of Justice has a history of bungling many gun registration procedures.
But he said in this case there could be thousands of gun owners who weren’t able to comply with the new law.
“These are people that tried to do the right thing who are now facing charges for trying to do the right thing,” stated Lapinski.
But Lapinski has a broader gripe with the bullet button ban to begin with.
He pulled a legal assault type rifle off the shelf in his store, one that he says doesn’t fit the vague state definition of an assault rifle.
“An AR-15, doesn’t have the pistol grip, doesn’t have a collapsing stock, doesn’t have a vertical fore grip,” said Lapinski.
But it’s the same semi-automatic weapon on which bullet buttons are banned; except, this rifle doesn’t need one to swap magazines
Which begs the question, why do you need to register bullet button guns to begin with?
“Tell me what they accomplish with my tax dollars besides headaches and creating a felon,” stated Lapinski.
Of course some would argue that none of these guns should be legal, but that constitutional conundrum has yet to be solved. Meanwhile enacting gun laws piecemeal has apparently ensnared some gun owners in red tape, leaving the courts as their only means for a remedy.
The lawsuit was filed in Shasta County on behalf of three gun-owners who tried for days to register their assault guns and failed.
A Department of Justice spokesperson said the DOJ has not been served with the suit. It was filed just two days ago and thus the DOJ did not offer in comments.