Analysis of Polanco’s SB 15 ("Unsafe Handguns")
rev. April 5, 1999

  1. New 12125(a) would impose a sentence of one year in a county jail for anyone who, after 7/1/200, makes, imports, keeps/offers/exposes for sale, gives or lends any "unsafe handgun" (as defined).

  2. New 12125(c) would make each "unsafe handgun" a separate count.

  3. New 12126 defines "unsafe handgun."  The definitions include some safety device reqts, and two test reqts. Subsection (a) is for revolvers; (b) is for pistols (semiauto handguns).  The size requirements were dropped in this issue of the bill.

  4. New 12127 is the "firing test" requirement applicable to pistols and revolvers.  Subsection (a) requires test by an independent lab certified by the Attorney General.  It requires the mfr to submit to such lab three units exactly like those he proposes to sell in the state, and of the same "make" and "model," and pay for the testing.  No relief is specified for mfrs/importers having already acquired equivalent or even more stringent testing, even if to meet requirements of the federal govt or another state.  So, a mfr or importer could very likely have to buy different tests to satisfy every state (or city) that makes such a law.

  The subsection requires firing of 600 rounds through each of the 3 handgun units, with 5-10 minute pauses for cooling after each 50 rounds, and requires cleaning and screw-tightening after each 100 rounds.

  5. New 12127(b) requires testing from the beginning if a pistol or revolver fails due to faulty ammo or faulty magazine.  It tries to allow a fresh unit to be used for the retest, but mistakenly allows "a new model."

  6. New 12127(c) defines "malfunction" for purposes of the test.  It includes a pistol's slide not remaining open after the last bullet in the magazine is fired, making the feature a requirement.

  7. New 12128 gives the requirements for the "drop safety" test.   It requires the same lab to subject the same handgun to this test. Basically, the test consists of dropping the handgun with a primed case in the chamber a height of 1 meter in each of 6 different orientations.   It must be dropped on a slab of "concrete" of a specified minimum size (3x6x6 inches).

  8. New 12129 requires the manufacturer, importer, and seller all to "certify under penalty of perjury and any other remedy provide by law that every model, kind, class, style, or type of pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person... is not an unsafe handgun as prohibited by this chapter" even though 12130 later requires that the DOJ notify the mfr or importer as to whether the firearm may be sold in the state.   This could be a problem because it makes these people responsible for ensuring that their guns pass the two tests even though the state would be requiring the tests to be performed by labs it certifies.

  9. New 12130(a), strictly speaking, requires every individual pistol, revolver or firearm capable of being concealed upon the person made, imported, of offered for sale in the state to be tested to determine if the gun meets or exceeds the standards stated in the "unsafe handgun" definition.   This is presumably intended to apply only to different models rather than each individual handgun.   Even so, the sentence requires testing of firearms "capable of being concealed upon the person" even though the "unsafe handgun" definition doesn't say anything about standards for other than pistols and revolvers.   In effect, it would require submission of a derringer to the lab so the lab could say the standard says nothing about such guns.

10. New 12131 has provisions for the DOJ to maintain and distribute a roster of the "good" guns.  Mfrs, importers & dealers are charged annually for the cost to maintain the roster.

11. New 12131.5 (added in 4/5 issue) provides for a handgun model to be approved without test if it is different from some already approved model only in superficial ways. 12. New 12132 provides that private party transfers (via dealers) are exempt.   Note that this would leave sale of used handguns by dealers virtually impossible unless the dealer functioned as a private party buying from a private party, then selling to another private party.   Dealers would likely have some problem doing this, such as running into some kind of transaction frequency limit.

13. New 12133 includes an exemption for single action revolvers meeting certain requirements.