Attorney General Bill Lockyer Orders 'Ring of Fire' Handgun Maker to Stop Selling and Manufacturing Unsafe Weapon

Friday, February 2, 2001
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

(Sacramento) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today ordered the Phoenix Arms Company to immediately stop selling and manufacturing their HP 22-three-inch barrel model handgun in California due to the weapons inability to meet the recently enacted handgun safety standards. The Phoenix Arms Company of Ontario, California -- known as one of the state's "Ring of Fire" handgun manufacturers – served as an impetus for the safety standards created by Senate Bill 15, the "Saturday Night Special" law, authored by Richard Polanco in 1999.

"The purpose of the unsafe handgun law is to protect families and children from dangerous guns," Lockyer said. "I won't let Phoenix Arms or any other gun manufacturer needlessly put the lives of Californians at risk in order to make a profit."

Under state law, effective January 1, 2001, handguns manufactured or sold in California must first pass a series of tests conducted by a DOJ-certified independent laboratory relative to safety and functionality. Handguns that fail to meet the safety standards are deemed to be "unsafe" and are prohibited from being manufactured or sold in California. Among the tests used by DOJ-certified labs are a 600-round firing test with six or fewer malfunctions and a drop-safety test from six different positions at a height of 1 meter.

Late last year, Phoenix Arms submitted their HP 22-three-inch and HP 22-five-inch barrel models for testing. While the original testing report indicated that the five-inch model passed the safety tests, the three-inch model experienced a series of malfunctions during the testing process. Prior to the completion of the official testing process, the owner of Phoenix Arms Company requested that the lab discontinue testing, and submitted new handguns for continued testing. The laboratory found that only by using a specific brand of ammunition were the handguns able to pass the safety tests, and reported to the Attorney General's Firearms Division the difficulty encountered during the testing procedure.

Due to the unusual nature of the testing results, the Attorney General's Firearms Division submitted both firearm models for re-testing by another certified laboratory. The subsequent testing resulted in the approval of the HP 22-five-inch model and the failure during the firing test of the 22-three-inch model. During the firing test, the 3 three-inch model handguns each malfunctioned more than six times within the first 200 rounds using the specified ammunition.

For more information about the handgun safety law and a comprehensive list of the more than 260 handguns already certified as not "unsafe" in California, go to the Attorney General's Firearms Division website at

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