Penal Code 32310 PC – Possession of Large-Capacity Gun Magazines
California Penal Code 32310 PC makes it a crime for someone to possess, sell, purchase, give away, import, transport, or manufacture large-capacity gun magazines, described as any ammunition-feeding device that can hold more than ten rounds.
However, this law has been fraught with controversy and legal challenges. For example, as recently as September 2023, a federal judge ruled banning large-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. Thus, while the law exists, the actual enforcement of this law is unclear.
This law aims to reduce gun violence by restricting access to ammunition-feeding devices capable of holding more than ten rounds, but successful routine court challenges have created confusion. Currently, in California, possession, sale, manufacture, or importation of large-capacity magazines is prohibited by law.
Penal Code 32310 PC says, “(a) Except as provided by law… any person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, buys, or receives any large-capacity magazine is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment under subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
(b) For purposes of this section, “manufacturing” includes both fabricating a magazine and assembling a magazine from a combination of parts, including, but not limited to, the body, spring, follower, and floor plate or end plate, to be a fully functioning large-capacity magazine.
(c) Except as provided law… commencing July 1, 2017, any person in this state who possesses any large-capacity magazine, regardless of the date the magazine was acquired, is guilty of an infraction or misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 per large-capacity magazine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(d) Any person who may not lawfully possess a large-capacity magazine commencing July 1, 2017, shall (1) Remove the large-capacity magazine from the state; (2) Sell the large-capacity magazine to a licensed firearms dealer; or (3) Surrender the large-capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction.”
Large-Capacity Magazines – Quick Facts
There are some essential facts you should know about Penal Code 32310 PC, which is California's law on large-capacity magazines, such as the following:
- A large-capacity magazine is any ammunition-feeding device that can hold more than ten rounds, including detachable and fixed devices that can be converted to accept more than ten rounds.
- The law covers bringing large-capacity magazines into the state, offering an exchange, including online sales and shipping to a CA address.
- Possession refers to having one in your control, directly or indirectly, such as having the magazine in your home or vehicle.
- Manufacturing refers to fabricating the magazine or assembling it from a combination of existing parts.
- It's not considered a large-capacity magazine if the feeding device was altered so that it can't hold more than ten rounds, a .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device, and a tubular magazine contained in a lever-action firearm.
- Since passed in 2000, this law has faced several legal challenges.
- In 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled the state could prohibit the possession and sale of large-capacity magazines.
- The United States Supreme Court vacated the ruling and asked the Ninth Circuit to revisit the law based on recent firearms cases.
- PC 32310 makes manufacturing, importing into California, offering for sale, lending, or giving away a large-capacity magazine illegal.
- PC 32310(c) makes it illegal to possess a large-capacity magazine.
- This law applies to both individuals and businesses.
- These exemptions to this law include law enforcement officers, military personnel, and licensed firearm dealers.
What Are the Related Laws?
Several California laws are related to Penal Code 32310 PC large-capacity magazines, such as the following:
- Penal Code 16590 PC – prohibited weapons;
- Penal Code 25400 PC – carry a concealed firearm;
- Penal Code 25850 PC – carry a loaded firearm;
- Penal Code 30210 PC - bullets with an explosive agent;
- Penal Code 30600 PC – assault weapons;
- Penal Code 29800 PC – felon with a firearm;
- Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon;
What Are the Penalties?
Suppose you are convicted for violating PC 32310. In that case, the penalties will depend on the specific allegations, such as the following:
- Simple possession of a large-capacity magazine is a "wobblette" offense under PC 32310(c), meaning it could be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor crime;
- An infraction carries a fine of $100 per magazine you possess;
- A misdemeanor has the same fine and up to one year in county jail.
- Manufacturing or selling is a "wobbler" that can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony;
- A misdemeanor carries up to one year in county jail and a fine;
- A felony carries up to three years in prison and a fine.
What Are the Legal Defenses?
As discussed below, our California criminal defense attorney could use different strategies to challenge alleged violations.
Maybe we can argue that there was an unlawful search and seizure. Suppose the large-capacity magazine was seized as part of an illegal search. In that case, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court, and the charges could be reduced or dismissed.
Maybe we can argue a lack of knowledge defense, saying you were unaware you possessed a large-capacity magazine. However, it must be proven that you genuinely believed the magazine was legal or did not know about its existence.
You can contact our law firm for a free case review by phone or through the contact form. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.