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What are the legal defenses and potential penalties for possessing and/or manufacturing bump stock weapons

Bump stocks, devices used to modify guns for rapid fire, are illegal to possess under Code 32900 PC. This article aims to go over the defense options for charges under Code 32900 as well as penalties for this statute. 


Possession of bump stocks under Code 32990 can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony (wobbler charge). As a misdemeanor, it can be punished by as much as one year in county jail. As a felony, it can be punished by:

  • a jail sentence of eighteen months
  • a jail sentence of two years
  • a jail sentence of three years

Possession of Multiburst Trigger Activators can be confiscated by the California Attorney General whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.


There are a number of defenses one may take for being tried under Code 32900 for possession of bump stocks, depending on the specific circumstances. Listed below are some of the most common defenses for such crimes.

  • You had no knowledge of the bump stock being in your possession
  • You are authorized to be in possession of bump stocks (ex: you are a member of a production crew authorized to possess such devices)
  • You were transporting the bump stock to be destroyed by authorities
  • The bump stock did not belong to you
  • The bump stock was collected by authorities conducting an illegal search and seizure
  • The bump stock was collected during an act of police misconduct, such as coerced confession

Federal Prosecution

On October 1, 2017, a shooting occurred that took the lives of 58 people. The shooter was about to fire approximately 90 bullets in 10 seconds by using bump stocks as a modification. As a reaction to this incident, a new regulation was put in place banning the possession of bump stocks. Under this regulation, bump stocks are considered to be machine guns. 

Those in possession of bump stocks prior to this ban taking place must bring the bump stock to the ATF for authorities to dispose of. Under federal law, possession of bump stocks can be charged and penalties may extend to: 

  • fines of as much as $250,000
  • as much as a 10-year-long federal prison sentence

This article addressed the penalties under California Code 32990, federal prosecution, and defenses that are commonly used against such charges. Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

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