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THROUGH THE CROSSHAIRS: Insight Into 2018 California Ammo Laws

This is the first part in a four-part series regarding the new laws and regulations in California starting Jan. 1, 2018. The first part discusses ammunition, and will be followed by blogs about new regulations and laws covering assault weapons, ghost guns and large-capacity magazines.

This blog will focus on how new ammunition laws will affect their ownership or business, and will also cover what’s coming down the pipe on July 1, 2019.

 

What faces buyers and sellers of ammunition?

On Jan. 1, 2018, any business must have a vendor license to sell ammunition to the state’s more than 6 million gun owners. However, the state only began dolling out vendor licenses on July 1.

Michael Schwartz, executive director of the San Diego Gun Owners (SDCGO) Political Action Committee (PAC), said buyers must also obtain a permit for purchasing ammo.

To dispel the rumors, he said there is no limitation on the quantity of rounds one can buy.

He said residents will not be able to purchase any ammo through catalog or online, it must be shipped through a licensed dealer. The most common procedure, he said, will be face-to-face transactions with the buyer and seller having permits.

Buyers must obtain a background check (through the California Department of Justice, which starts July 1, 2019) and then will be issued a card, while the seller must go through a process to become an authorized dealer.

“It’s almost all of the same steps and processes to buy a gun are being applied to buy ammunition,” Schwartz explained. “You can’t buy ammunition outside California and bring it into California.”

Another possible “loophole,” from the anti-gun establishment perspective is with gun ranges. Patrons of ranges can purchase ammo at the range, but must use all of it at the establishment.

In short, a buyer cannot purchase ammo at the range and leave with any excess rounds.

“They (the state) don’t really have the process in place,” Schwartz said. “It’s probably going to be extended.”

 

Gun shop response to online sales

Schwartz said over the past several months he has reached out to numerous gun stores about the online sales. He said many, if not all, of those businesses will not participate in online sales.

The reasoning, Schwartz said, is because it will drastically drive up the cost of the ammo to customers through added fees that would be levied against the stores and the clientele. He said a reasonable estimate is prices may rise between 10-20 percent.

“There’s no money in their pocket,” he added. “The margin of ammo is so small. By the time you get it through a licensed dealer, you are going to spend more money.”

Schwartz said due to the new regulations, the cost of ammo is going to go up “across the board.”

But there is a twist. He said the government is helping gun stores corner the market for ammunition, which is a good thing through the capitalist lens.

“They are all totally against this,” Schwartz said. “Philosophically, they just think this is absolutely ridiculous. The government is saying ‘You’ll be the only game in town.’ But they (gun store owners) are saying, ‘This stinks. We don’t want this to happen.’”

Regardless, he said those who do try to buy out-of-state will end up being “feed to death,” and the best option is to buy from a local store.

Individuals will also be barred from giving away ammunition unless it’s through a licensed vendor. Should an individual purchase ammo from an out-of-state source or giving away ammo could be charged with a misdemeanor.

 

Pathway to a ban?

Schwartz said the comparisons between the handgun roster, which lists firearms that are illegal in California, to the new legislation concerning ammo.

“I like to draw a parallel between the handgun roster and this ammo thing,” he said. “All the gun guys said this is going to turn into a de facto ban. Everyone said ‘You’re wearing a tinfoil hat.’ Well, it has turned into a de facto ban. I don’t think it’s unreasonable, to judge by history, that this is the first step into severely limiting, and possibly, banning ammunition.”

Schwartz also railed against the legislation requiring microstamping on the firing pin to identify bullets. However, the technology does not exist to do so, and he said, “It’s like saying you can drive any car you want, as long as it flies.’”

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