Clock ticking for many California gun buyers

Posted at 6:14 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-20 10:46:29-05

SAN DIEGO - An upcoming California gun law change has many San Diegans rushing to buy the kind of semi-automatic weapons that have been associated with mass shootings.

Marc Halcon is on a deadline. He has less than 48 hours to sell his stock of AR-15s at Kearny Mesa's American Shooting Center.

"What they've done basically is said these weapons now become assault weapons," he said.

The AR-15 in its current form will become illegal to buy or sell in California on New Year's Day, which means Wednesday is the latest someone can buy one and go through the state's 10-day waiting period.

"It's going to put some people out of business," Halcon said. "It's also going to cut back on sales tax for the state of California."

That's a price Gov. Jerry Brown was willing to pay when he signed a bill making semi-automatic rifles with a variety of features illegal.

A big target of the bill is a bullet button that allows for easier reloading. Now, users will essentially have to deactivate the firing mechanism to put in a new magazine.

Ron Marcus, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence, said the restriction makes sense if such a powerful weapon is going to be on the market.

"Its sole function is to be able to kill as many things as possible in the shortest amount of time possible," he said. "That is its design."

Halcon said no law will stop a criminal from committing a mass murder. He is also confident all the AR-15s he has in stock will sell by Wednesday. He said he will deliver about 50 by the end of the year, and the Crossroads of the West gun show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds reported 30 percent higher attendance at its December show compared to last year.

Halcon said starting next year, his shelves will be stocked with semi-automatics with far fewer features.