PETALUMA, Calif. - Gun sales across California have skyrocketed in advance of new laws taking effect in 2017.
Buyers are waiting in long lines to buy the AK and AR model semi-automatic rifles before they are banned.
December 31st is the last day to take possession of those firearms, and since the state background check takes ten days, Wednesday December 21 is realistically the cutoff for such a purchase.
"I'm glad I got it, my mom's not too happy though," 22 year old Austin Evans told KTVU, as he left Sportsman's Arms in Petaluma, clutching an AK-47 he paid $950 for.
Evans will add the rifle to eight others he owns for hunting and target shooting.
The AK will have to be registered with the state as an assault rifle and will have restrictions.
"Only I can have it, no one else can," explained Evans, "and if I pass away, it's got to be turned in to the police station. It can't be sold."
Racks at gun stores across the state are emptying out.
Sales first surged when Governor Brown signed the sweeping package of gun laws last summer, and stockpiling resumed recently.
"If your approval is denied or delayed, you' are going to be in a bad spot," Gabriel Vaughn, Sportman's Arms owner, warned a customer Monday evening.
Legally, Vaughn cannot give a purchaser one of the outlawed guns on January 1st, even if it's been paid for, and they've been approved.
Sales at his store have been six times normal during the past few months, as people rush to acquire weapons they will not see in California stores again.
"We have true criminals out there who don't care about this stuff and Joe Public, who cares and is legitimately scared , and is confused about how to be compliant," observed Vaughn.
Statewide, since July, more than 250,000 semi automatic rifles have been sold, which is 100,000 more than all of those sold last year.
"I'm here because I believe in a system of love and karma, but to counter-balance that, in case it fails, I'm buying an AK-47," smiled buyer Justin Kerson.
"Do I need this weapon? No. Did I purchase it anyway? Yes," posed customer Chris Tise, who admitted he felt rushed by a ban he disagrees with.
"That's the bottom line. They took the choice away, took it away completely!," he exclaimed.
Gun rights supporters call the ban arbitrary, because it singles out particular features, most notably the so-called "bullet button", a modification that enables reloading of magazines.
The intent is to reduce bloodshed from gun violence, but critics argue there are many semi-automatic rifles that remain legal, but are not singled out or stigmatized like the A-K and A-R rifles.
"The idea is why, what difference does it make if they all do the same thing?, questioned Vaughn.
The combination of gun reforms from the legislature and voters seems to be fueling an overall buying binge.
The state reports firearms purchases of all kinds- including handguns- are up 40 percent this year over last.