California AG sends cease-and-desist letter to SoCal gunmaker

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Orange County, California-based firearms manufacturer Juggernaut Tactical is in the crosshairs of the state’s attorney general over the company’s “featureless” rifles. The gun maker says the rifles comply with the state’s draconian regulations on so-called assault weapons, but the AG’s office claims the company is instead trying to “effectively rewrite” the law in order for the guns to fall outside of the definition of an “assault weapon.”

Luis Lopez, director of the agency’s bureau of firearms, sent a “cease and desist” letter dated Friday to Juggernaut Tactical regarding its “Featureless Series” rifles. At issue are pistol grips on the weapons.

“Juggernaut’s website acknowledges that Juggernaut is trying to effectively rewrite the applicable regulatory definition to make its “Featureless Series” rifles fall outside the definition of an assault weapon,” Lopez wrote. “Juggernaut’s website makes clear that the justification for the legality of its ‘Featureless Series’ rifles is based on a regulatory definition that Juggernaut wishes existed, as opposed to the one that currently exists in law.”

Lopez said the company’s F-9, F-10 and F-15 rifles failed to meet the definition of a “semiautomatic firearm” such as a rifle, pistol or shotgun. He said the company was intentionally attempting to “do an end-run around” the law.

Not to get too far into the technical weeds here, but the dispute is over whether or not the grips on Juggernaut Tactical’s “Featureless series” are placed in such a way that it technically does not meet the legislative language that define “assault weapons” through its features. As Juggernaut explains on its website:

Several jurisdictions across the country restrict the manufacture, sale, or possession of semiautomatic firearms equipped with pistol grips.Some states merely list “pistol grip” as a prohibited feature without further defining what a “pistol grip” is.The old Federal Assault Weapon Ban was the same way.

Had California left it at that, the substantial brainpower of Juggernaut Tactical would have shifted its efforts to other projects.California, however, attempted to clarify “pistol grip” in the regulations.And as we read that definition for the umpteenth time, a little lightbulb appeared above our collective head.“What if we lowered the bottom of the receiver?” we asked ourselves.“Can it be that simple?”

With that, we started initial designs and simultaneously began discussions with our contacts in the firearms industry, law enforcement, and those pesky attorneys.After a deep dive into California’s assault weapon laws and regulations, we feel we’re on pretty solid ground.Were there naysayers?Of course!And it wasn’t necessarily that they disagreed with the concept or our interpretation of the regulations, but rather they didn’t think the California Department of Justice would take too kindly to yet another innovation that keeps semiautomatic firearms from being classified as “assault weapons.”CA DOJ became aware of what we intended to do in early December 2021.We have yet to receive any phone calls, in-person contacts, or a cease-and-desist order from them.

Yeah, might be time to update that portion of the website.

Click the link above for a much more detailed explainer of why the company believes that lowering the bottom of the receiver makes the gun California compliant. The AG’s office, meanwhile, told Juggernaut in its cease-and-desist letter that the rifles in question are indeed “assault weapons” as defined by California law because the grips on the guns allow for “a pistol-style grasp in which the web of the trigger hand (between the thumb and index finger) can be placed beneath or below the top of the exposed portion of the trigger while firing.”

As of this morning, all of Juggernaut’s Featureless series were listed as “out of stock” on the company’s website, but it’s unclear if the company will try to challenge the AGs determination in court.

This whole ordeal just highlights the absurdity of California’s ban on so-called assault weapons, which has been continually revised and modified since it was first enacted in 1989. And while the gun control lobby may cheer on Attorney General Rob Bonta as he goes after a California gun company that was ostensibly trying to comply with state law, my guess is that most Californians would rather the AG focus his efforts on violent criminals instead.