SB 396 Defines “undetectable firearm” and creates fines.

Signed into Law by Gov Brown on 06-15-21
Status (overview) of bill:

This bill defines “undetectable firearm” and “untraceable firearm” and defines crimes of possessing, manufacturing, importing, offering for sale or transferring undetectable and/or untraceable firearms.

Personal Choice and Responsibility
“untraceable firearms” are those manufactured after 1968 and without a serial number, so that law enforcement cannot trace the sale/distribution chain. This bill makes it a Class B felony to manufacture, possess, import or transfer such a firearm or an “unfinished receiver.” It has always been legal for private citizens to make their own firearms, and as long as they don’t sell them there should be no reason for a serial number. The only reason for this bill is either to make it more onerous and expensive to manufacture your own firearm or for the government to be able to keep a list of and track all firearms. The federal government is prohibited from keeping such a list for good reason, and the state should be as well. The only part of this bill that makes sense is prohibiting those who are legally prohibited from possessing firearms, from possessing an 80% finished firearm part. But though the sentiment makes sense, it would be ineffective as criminals have no reason to fear another felony charge which would likely be plea-bargained, and have many ways to acquire firearms outside the law.

Fiscal Responsibility
As with most gun bills, the rationale for this is presumably to reduce crime, but there is no evidence that requirements such as this have decreased any crime, anywhere. So this becomes a statute which is expensive for law enforcement to enforce, and without benefit.

Limited Government
“undetectable firearms” are defined in 18 U.S. Code § 922(p)(2)(C) as they are illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive per Federal law. This basically refers to firearms where the major components are made of a material which would not be detected by metal detectors or airport scanning devices (plastic/polymer). No such firearm exists which is also useable or reliable in any way. If they did, criminals and terrorists would use them. They don’t, which illustrates that this is a solution in search of a problem.


  1. arden ray says:

    Since no viable “undetectable” firearms exist, at least using current technology, I wonder if this bill is actually intended to punish owners of firearms that were undetected in prior searches due to human error or equipment failures.

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