Penal Code 30600 PC – Assault Weapons and Rifles in California

Penal Code 30600 PC
is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to commit certain acts - such as making or selling - assault weapons and BMG rifles. This law does not apply to the possession of these weapons. Possession of these types of guns, however, is a crime under Penal Code 30605 PC.

PC 30600 states:

“Any person who, within this state, manufactures or causes to be manufactured, distributes, transports, or imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives or lends any assault weapon or any .50 BMG rifle, except as provided by this chapter, is guilty of a felony…”


  • bringing an assault weapon into the State of California.
  • letting a friend borrow a .50 BMG rifle.
  • making assault weapons and rifles.


A defendant can try to beat a charge under this statute with a legal defense. Common defenses include:

  • no assault weapon or rifle,
  • permit to manufacture and sell, and/or
  • unlawful search and seizure.


A violation of this law is charged as a felony. This is opposed to a California misdemeanor or an infraction.

The crime is punishable by:

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

1. What is a crime under Penal Code 30600

This statute says it is a crime for a person to:

  • manufacture,
  • sell,
  • give away,
  • lend,
  • distribute,
  • import, or
  • transport

assault weapons and BMG rifles.1

A defendant is only guilty under this law if he:

  1. performed an illegal act knowingly, and
  2. knew or reasonably should have known that the weapon involved had the characteristics of an assault weapon or .50 BMG rifle.2

Example: Unbeknownst to her, Kelly's ex-boyfriend left one of his assault weapons in her car's trunk. She drivers the car one day to run some errands and gets stopped for speeding. The police notice the weapon and arrest her for transporting an assault weapon. When shown the gun, Kelly has no clue what it is.

Here, Kelly can beat a transportation charge under PC 30600. She did not know the weapon was in her car, and therefore, did not transport the gun knowingly. She also did not know the gun had the characteristics of an assault weapon.

Questions often arise under this statute on the meaning of:

  1. assault weapons, and
  2. .50 BMG rifles.

Note that new legislation, Senate Bill 61, may add some additional laws to California regarding semi-automatic rifles.

1.1. Assault weapons

An assault weapon is a weapon that is identified as such in a California statute.3

For example, Penal Code 30510 PC lists over 70 types of firearms that are all classified as assault weapons. Some of these include:

  • all AK series rifles,
  • Uzi submachine guns, and
  • the Striker 12 shotguns.4

Penal Code 30515 PC also lists some semiautomatic centerfire rifles that are considered assault weapons. Some of these are:

  • Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles,
  • the TAVOR Bullpup rifle, and
  • the Micro-UZI submachine gun.5

1.2. .50 BMG rifle

A .50 BMG rifle is not an assault weapon or, despite its name, a machinegun.

It is a centerfire rifle that can fire a .50 BMG cartridge. A .50 BMG cartridge is designed and intended to be fired from a centerfire rifle.

A .50 BMG rifle has all three of the following characteristics:

  • the overall length is 5.54 inches from the base of the cartridge to the tip of the bullet,
  • the bullet diameter for the cartridge is from .510 to and including .511 inch, and
  • the case base diameter for the cartridge is from .800 inches to, and including, .804 inches.6

1.3. Senate Bill 61

SB 61 is a piece of legislation that may add two laws to California regarding semi-automatic rifles.

If adopted, the bill would do the following:

  1. limit the purchase of these guns to one per month, and
  2. prohibit the sale of semi-automatic rifles to anyone under 21.7

Note that this prohibition on sales would even apply if the buyer had a valid hunting license.

2. Are there legal defenses?

An accused can beat a charge under this statute with a good legal defense.

Three common defenses are:

  1. no assault weapon or rifle,
  2. permit to manufacture and sell, and/or
  3. unlawful search and seizure.

2.1. No assault weapon or BMG rifle

The statute in question only applies to assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles. This means it is always a valid defense for an accused to say that:

  • while he may have done a certain act with a firearm,
  • it was not an “assault weapon” or a “BMG rifle.”

2.2. Permit to manufacture and sell

California law does allow qualified personnel to receive:

  • a permit to manufacture and sell these weapons,
  • to law enforcement or military agencies.

This means a defendant would not be guilty under PC 30600 if he legally had one of these permits. This is provided a weapon was made, or sold to, a police officer or military department.

2.3. Unlawful search and seizure

Authorities cannot conduct a search or take property without a valid search warrant (or a legal excuse for not having one). If the police:

  • gather evidence from an unlawful search and seizure,
  • then that evidence can get excluded from a criminal case.

This means that any charges in the case could get reduced or even dismissed.

man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in substantial time in prison

3. What are the penalties?

A violation of these laws is charged as a felony.

The crime is punishable by:

  • custody in county jail for up to eight years, or
  • felony (or formal) probation.8

Note that a guilty defendant will receive an additional one-year jail term if he:

  • transferred,
  • loaned,
  • sold, or
  • gave

an assault weapon or BMG rifle to a minor.9

4. Are there immigration consequences?

An assault weapon or BMG rifle conviction may have negative immigration consequences.

This happens most often when the weapon was used to commit:

In these situations, a conviction under PC 30600 could lead to a non-citizen defendant being:

5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?

A person can get a conviction expunged.

An expungement helps a person avoid many of the harsh consequences of a criminal conviction.

A defendant can expunge an assault weapon/BMG rifle conviction if he successfully completes:

  • a jail term, or
  • probation (whichever is applicable).

6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?

A defendant will lose his gun rights if he gets convicted under this statute.

Convicted felons in California are prohibited from buying or owning a gun.

Since a violation of this statute is a felony, a conviction will result in a loss of gun rights.

7. Are there related offenses?

There are three crimes related to acts with assault weapons and BMG rifles. These are:

  1. carrying a concealed weapon – PC 25400,
  2. carrying a loaded weapon – PC 25850,
  3. unlicensed sale of firearms – PC 26500, and
  4. large capacity magazines – PC 32310

7.1. Carrying a concealed weapon – PC 25400

Penal Code 25400 PC makes it a crime for a person to carry a concealed firearm on his person or in a vehicle.

Unlike PC 30600, this statute applies to “firearms.” Common examples include:

  • pistols,
  • revolvers,
  • handguns,
  • rifles (including short-barreled rifles),
  • shotguns (including short-barreled shotguns), and
  • tasers.

7.2. Carrying a loaded weapon – PC 25850

Penal Code 25850 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to carry a loaded firearm in public or in a vehicle.

Again, unlike the statute on assault weapons and BMG rifles, this law only applies to firearms.

7.3 Unlicensed sale of firearms – PC 26500

Penal Code 26500 PC is the California law that makes it a misdemeanor to:

  • sell,
  • lease, or
  • transfer

firearms without a valid permit.

This crime gets charged for every firearm that one sells, leases, or transfers without a permit.

7.4 Large capacity magazines – PC 32310

Penal Code 32310 PC is California's law regarding large capacity magazines (as used with firearms). The statute prohibits:

  • manufacturing,
  • importing,
  • selling,
  • giving away,
  • lending,
  • buying or receiving, and
  • possessing

large capacity magazines, except in very specific circumstances.

Note that in March of 2019, a federal judge in California gave a ruling that seems to have struck down this statute as unconstitutional.

The judge, though, has agreed to hold off on implementing his ruling while the state gets ready to challenge the decision.

For additional help...

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Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

For information on similar laws in Nevada and Colorado, please see our articles on:

Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 30600 PC.

  2. CALCRIM No. 2560. Possession, etc., of Assault Weapon or. 50 BMG Rifle. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2017 edition). See also In re Jorge M. (2000) 23 Cal.4th 866.

  3. Harrott v. County of Kings (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1138.

  4. California Penal Code 30510.

  5. California Penal Code 30515.

  6. CALCRIM No. 2560. Possession, etc., of Assault Weapon or. 50 BMG Rifle.

  7. California Senate Bill 61.

  8. California Penal Code 30600. See also California Penal Code 1170h.

  9. California Penal Code 30600b PC.

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