Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2023 ‘Fifty Caliber Rifles in California.’ Hardware & Ammunition. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 21 September
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]
Fifty Caliber Rifles in California
California generally prohibits the manufacture, distribution, transportation, importation, keeping or offering for sale, giving, or lending of any .50 BMG rifle without a California Department of Justice ("DOJ")-issued permit. A .50 BMG rifle is any centerfire rifle that can fire a .50 BMG cartridge and that is not already an assault weapon or machine gun.
The state also prohibits the possession of a .50 BMG rifle unless it is registered in the name of the possessor. Any person in lawful possession of a .50 BMG rifle must have registered it with DOJ within the registration period (January 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006).
Registered .50 BMG rifles may be transported only between limited, specified locations and must be unloaded and in a locked container when transported.
California law includes a statement of the dangers posed by the .50 BMG rifle:
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the proliferation and use of .50 BMG rifles…poses a clear and present terrorist threat to the health, safety, and security of all residents of, and visitors to, this state, based upon findings that those firearms have such a high capacity for long distance and highly destructive firepower that they pose an unacceptable risk to the death and serious injury of human beings, destruction or serious damage of vital public and private buildings, civilian, police and military vehicles, power generation and transmission facilities, petrochemical production and storage facilities, and transportation infrastructure.…
California law provides that the possession of a .50 BMG rifle in violation of state laws is a public nuisance. Any .50 BMG rifle deemed a public nuisance must be destroyed, except upon finding by a court, or a declaration from DOJ, a district attorney, or a city attorney stating that the preservation of the .50 BMG rifle is in the interest of justice…