New ammunition laws sow uncertainty

New ammunition laws sow uncertainty
New state laws concerning the sale of ammunition were enacted on Jan. 1, including new restrictions on online sales. A local gun store owner said the laws will help his business in the long run. Stock photo

CARLSBAD — A slew of new regulations have gun stores and enthusiasts concerned about the availability of ammunition.

On Jan. 1, the state enacted several new regulations under Proposition 63 (along with SB 1235), which was passed by voters in 2016. However, gun supporters are crying foul over the state’s lack of implementation of a new system catering to stores selling ammunition.

Online sales of ammunition now must go through a licensed vendor, but according to numerous media reports, many stores have not received their license despite applying months ago. As a result, those stores can no longer sell ammunition until they receive a license from the state.

Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition in Sacramento, said the reason is because the California Department of Justice has dragged its feet in setting up the system to process those applications.

“In July 2017, the DOJ could start issuing ammunition vendor licenses,” he explained. “It hasn’t happened. In fact, they don’t even have approved regulations or forms yet. Sadly, they are not keeping up.”

Ron Marcus, director of public outreach for the San Diego chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said it is unfair the state is acting in such a manner. However, he applauded the new ammunition laws saying it will prevent criminals, or those buying on behalf of them, from obtaining ammunition.

Marcus, though, said his group is not seeking to take away any legal owner’s guns or the rights of those legally allowed to purchase a firearm. He said it is a goal of the Brady Campaign to find sensible and balanced laws without obstructing Constitutional rights.

“It comes down to the convenience of responsible gun owners to enjoy their guns and ammunition, versus the safeguards that are sensible for keeping ammunition and guns out of the hands of the wrong people,” Marcus said. “The motivation behind this law, which of course is controversial, is to keep ammunition from freely being sold under the radar or transferred under the radar to people who shouldn’t be getting it. To a responsible gun owner … it will feel like they are being penalized when they aren’t the problem.”

In Carlsbad, Gunther Guns is the only store in the city to sell ammunition, along with firearms. Co-owner Lisa Gunther said the online restrictions will help local stores, but it comes with a price.

Gun stores with a Federal Firearms License Type 3 Curio and Relics, however, are eligible to sell ammunition.

“It means that California residents can’t buy ammo (one box or bulk) from websites and ship it to their house anymore,” she added. “Hopefully this means that they will now support their local gun store by shopping at local brick and mortar stores such as Gunther Guns. This should increase sales at the local level, but at the expense of liberty for California residents.”

In addition, gun owners can still purchase ammo at a gun range, such as Iron Sights in Oceanside, but cannot take any rounds off the property to store at their home.

Another aspect, Combs said, is California residents may not purchase ammunition out of state and drive it back into the state.

In theory, residents with a Federal Firearms License and a certificate of eligibility from the DOJ can purchase ammo over the internet and have it shipped to their home, Combs said.

“The next big step is, in July 2019, a system will have to be in place to have an electronic point-of-sale background check to where if you go buy ammo, the dealer has to run you like you were buying a firearm,” Combs added.


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