Advertisement
News by VICE

People Went Nuts Trying to Buy Ammo Before California's Background Check Law Kicked In

California just became the first state to require gun owners to pass instant background checks before buying bullets.

by Kelly Vinett
Jul 1 2019, 6:12pm

California just became the first state to require gun owners to pass instant background checks before buying bullets.

The new law, which went into effect Monday, requires customers to pay $1 each time they go through a background check to purchase ammunition and $20 if the Department of Justice doesn’t already have their information in the system.

Previously, anyone over the age of 18 could purchase ammunition without a background check in California. Though background checks required to purchase guns usually take about 10 days, those required for buying ammunition are supposed to take merely minutes.

Still, most California gun owners took precaution in the face of the new restriction. They flocked to Los Angeles gun shops to stock up on ammo during Father’s Day sales.

“Most people know about the deadline. They are running scared. They are pissed off,” one Orange County gun shop employee told the LA Times. The shop’s ammunition sales jumped by more than 10%, and some customers bought as many as 1,000 rounds in bulk as they ran up against the deadline, according to the employee.

Gun shops advertised the law too. The Ammo Depot in Sacramento rented a freeway billboard that read, “Get your ammo now!” before July.

California has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S. State law bans most assault weapons. But lawmakers, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom who championed Proposition 63, think the state can do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

“California can do better. Reasonable, commonsense gun laws reduce gun deaths and injuries, keep guns away from criminals and fight illegal gun trafficking,” reads a section of the law.

But some gun-rights activists think a stricter ammo law will only drive a black market within arms owners, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Voters passed the law back in 2016 via referendum, but its implementation took nearly three years, largely due to opposition from the NRA, which claimed the background checks violated the Second Amendment. The NRA, in coalition with Olympic shooter Kim Rhode, eventually sued the state over the law.

A federal judge agreed with the NRA that one provision of the law that banned high-capacity gun magazines was unconstitutional in March 2019. Though California has appealed the ruling, the provision banning high-capacity magazines, including those already in possession, hasn’t been implemented due to pending litigation.

Cover image: In this photo taken Tuesday, June 11, 2019, Chris Puehse, owner of Foothill Ammo displays a .45-caliber bullet for sell at his store in Shingle Springs, Calif. Californians will have to undergo criminal background checks every time they buy ammunition starting July 1 under a 2016 voter-approved ballot initiative. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)