SACRAMENTO — California gun owners will have a harder time buying ammunition starting in July.
Lawmakers hope the new law, which goes into effect on Monday, will help save lives.
“At the end of the day, it is a perverse fact: Guns don’t kill people. Unless a gun is used as a blunt instrument, a gun is not particularly dangerous,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “A gun requires a dangerous component and that’s ammunition.”
The new law will make California the first state in the nation to require background checks for ammunition.
“The reality is, if we’re only monitoring gun sales, we’re only looking at part of the problem and part of the equation,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
Until now, even people with illegal firearms could buy ammo without ever stepping foot into a gun store.
“They were able to get it through online sales delivered right to their very front door, like a pizza, with no background check or kind sort of regulation whatsoever,” Robyn Thomas, of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said.
Starting next week, anyone buying ammunition will have to submit to a spot background check, which will cost one dollar. The check is designed to quickly determine if the buyer has any restrictions against them, like a felony conviction.
“Ammunition is the oxygen that fuels the violence we see in our communities every single day and our law enforcement needs to know who’s buying it,” Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon said. “Our law enforcement needs to know who’s selling it.”
The new regulations don’t go into effect until Monday, but gun store employees are already feeling the effects.
“We have had a lot more bulk purchases starting as early as last week for people really scrambling to get as much ammunition,” The Guns Store co-operation manager Kellyn Skalko told FOX40.
Some are worried the new process could deter first-time gun and ammunition buyers and make things more difficult for law-abiding owners.
“It comes across as a bit more of a headache, a little bit more of a nuisance because a lot of people in the firearm industry don’t genuinely believe this is going to deter anything,” Skalko said. “It’s just making it harder for people who already follow the laws.”
Lawmakers who support the legislation are assuring the process will be hassle-free and make a big impact in reducing gun violence.
“Gun safety laws save lives,” Newsom said.
The new law is part of Proposition 63, which California voters passed in 2016. Other elements of the law are already in effect.
Authorities can now remove firearms from felons and other prohibited purchasers as soon as they’re convicted.
It also implemented a fine for anyone who fails to report when their gun is lost or stolen.
But the NRA has challenged a final section of the law, which would ban large-capacity magazine clips. That provision is still being held up in court.