Purchasing ammunition? Background checks now required

Handguns are on display at Adam's Armory in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The Proposition 63 provisions coming into effect on January 1, 2018 are new laws for convicted criminals to turn over their firearms and tighter controls for internet ammunition sales. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

As California continues its rollout of The Safety for All Act of 2016, new ammunition laws went into effect Monday that requires anyone in California to undergo a background check when buying ammunition for their firearms.

The state’s latest gun-related restrictions are a result of Proposition 63, which was passed by state voters in 2016 and developed by then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

Most gun ranges will be unaffected by the new statutes as long as no ammo leaves the facility, but other suppliers across the state are now required to cross-reference the information of ammunition buyers with information with the Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System.

If the data matches, officials estimate the process could take as little as a few minutes to go through and cost consumers $1. If it doesn’t match or a buyer isn’t in the system, it could cost as much as $19 and take up to 10 days.

Along with performing the background checks, ammunition vendors must also record, maintain and submit ammunition sales records to the Department of Justice in a manner similar to the dealer’s records of sales for firearm purchases, according to the bill’s text.

“It will no longer be as simple as coming up to the counter, asking for a box, paying for it and then walking out,” said Richard Nagler, owner of Adams Armory. “We must now do a record check first, which could take anywhere from two to 10 minutes. If that’s approved, we have to go to the other part of the (dealer’s records of sales) system and list each separate item they purchased. Then we have to print up the forms for them to fill out, and finally, we can ring up the sale and they are free to go.”

California is already considered the state with the strictest gun laws in the nation, but Newsom said in a prepared statement the law was designed to restrict dangerous individuals with violent histories from accessing firearms and ammunition.

However, opponents of the newly instituted rules disagreed and filed lawsuits in an attempt to block the law, arguing that the new restrictions will harm gun owners who follow the law.  

“If I thought for one second this would deter somebody, I would have supported it — but it’s not going to,” Nagler said Tuesday. “If somebody in the state wants to obtain ammunition, then they’re going to.”

In the months prior to the implementation of the new restrictions, there were reports of gun owners across the state flocking to various stores to purchase more ammo before the rules went into effect.

Nagler said Tuesday that ammo sales have been slow in the short time since the implementation of the new laws, “but that’s only temporary because everybody will eventually run out and be forced to restock.”

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