de Le√≥n’s Bill is Misdirected – Who Can Buy Ammo Is More Important

[This is the final post in a 5 part series] – This week I’ve talked about microstamping and a new gun theft bill and how neither of these two pieces of legislation will do anything to make people safer. I’ve also talked about security problems with the CCW licenses that are issued here in California, and an easy solution to this issue. Today’s post is going to focus on AB 362, Assemblyman Kevin de Le√≥n’s proposal to restrict sales of ammunition and how he’s targeting the wrong people if he wants to actually make an impact. This will probably be the most controversial post I’ll make all week as I’m going to explain how if Assemblyman de Le√≥n wants to “keep bullets out of the hands of criminals and Gang-Bangers” he should not be focusing his attention on who is allowed to sell ammo, but rather who is allowed to buy it.

In the News Release Assemblyman de Le√≥n’s office released there is a quote from him asking “Why is it much harder to buy a pack of cigarettes than a case of handgun ammunition?” which is a little misleading and should be addressed before we go much further. In the state of California you must be 21 years of age to buy handgun ammo, but like alcohol (which you also need to be 21 yo to buy) it can be shelved in a store and picked up by a customer. Cigarettes, which you only need to be 18 yo to buy, are required to be shelved behind a counter where only a store employee can pick them up and give them to the customer after they are purchased. Something that should not be over looked is that 100% of cigarettes that are sold contribute to killing people. They contribute to killing the people who bought them, as well as they people nearby when they are used. Ammo on the other hand is statistically very safe. More than 99% of handgun ammo that is sold does not contribute to killing anyone, but rather ends up safely spent at gun ranges around the state or locked up in personal safes.

Not to mention that on it’s own, ammo is completely harmless – it needs to be combined with a gun AND someone with criminal intent before it becomes dangerous. The point is that it’s a very small percentage of people who purchase ammo who do anything illegal with it, and restricting the vast majority of legal buyers and sellers in hopes of catching a few of these criminals makes much less sense than focusing on those people with criminal intent to begin with. I think we can all agree that age is a pretty poor measure of judgment and just because someone is 21 does not mean they are responsible.

First of all, let’s look at what AB 362 wants to do. It proposes 5 things:

1) Only licensed dealers can sell ammo

2) All employees of licensed dealers must pass background checks.

3) Ammo must be stored behind the counter rather than on shelves in stores

4) Anyone buying ammo would have to present ID to prove they are over 21 years old

5) No internet sales of ammo.

Points 1 and 2 will do nothing except cause some stores to stop selling ammo. Do you think WalMart or big chain sporting goods stores are going to provide background checks of all employees? Not a chance. Point 3 is neither here nor there for me, but I can imagine for smaller, independently owned stores (the kind that would actually jump through the hoops of having all employees get background checks) this would be quite an imposition as relocating ammo, which takes up a great deal of store square footage, would probably require stores to be totally redesigned in many cases, at the expense of the business owner. Point 4 is redundant, as it’s already required that you be 21 to buy ammo, the addition of ID to the clause only verifies you are who you say you are – it says nothing about your skill, responsibility, or intent. Point 5 is potentially the most disruptive to legal gun owners because with literally hundreds of available calibers, internet stores are sometimes the only option for getting ammo for antique, rare, and collectible firearms as no stores keep these rarely purchased calibers in stock.

29135_ts.JPGLet’s jump back to my point about age as the sole factor for someone to buy ammo. As I’ve already mentioned it’s already illegal to sell handgun ammo to someone under the age of 21, yet the majority of the gang related shootings Assemblyman de Le√≥n is trying to cut down on are committed by people under 21. We already know criminals are buying handguns illegally, but it’s probably safe to assume that some of the ammo used in crimes was bought legally and then given to someone who used it illegally. This is why the intent and responsibility of the person purchasing the ammo is far more important than who is selling it. A more reasonable solution would be to require someone purchasing ammo to meet some set requirements showing that they do not have any criminal history and understand the laws and safety issues relating to handguns. Setting up a new system for this would be a nightmare, luckily we already have a system in place that does just that.

To purchase a gun in CA you have to pass a background check, and obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate showing that you know the basics of handgun safety. However you do not need a background check to get a HSC, so that alone does not cover the bases. A license to carry a concealed weapon, or a CCW, does cover those bases. To get one you need to pass a detailed background check, pass several hours of classroom training, and pass several hours of range training showing you know how to safely and accurately use a handgun. I propose that in order to purchase ammo in the state of California a buyer must hold a valid CCW license. A requirement like this would be the strictest in the country, but would also take some very large steps to ensuring ammo would stay out of the wrong hands. As you know I’m a supporter of gun rights and CCW, but I’m also a proponent of training and education and think the more trained and trustworthy the people with weapons are the safer everyone else is. Assemblyman de Le√≥n should rewrite this bill dropping the restrictions on who can sell handgun ammo and instead focus on who can buy it.

Part 1: Guns, Gangs, and Making Crime Illegal
Part 2: Feuer’s Microstamping Bill Is Pointless
Part 3: California’s CCW Licenses Are Too Easy To Fake
Part 4: The Art of Turning Victims Into Criminals

6 thoughts on “de Le√≥n’s Bill is Misdirected – Who Can Buy Ammo Is More Important”

  1. Indeed, it would be fantastic if CCWs were required to buy ammo in this state. It would give CA the strongest ammo control law in the nation. We would be the first state to require a full crim. background check, LiveScan fingerprinting, and documented training, before anyone could even buy handgun ammo. This is a sensible gun law that I can support.

  2. I agree with the idea of requiring a permit to purchase ammo, but I don’t understand how you can promote that and not restrict internet sales. It would be like selling hard alcohol and opiates over the web.

  3. In CA switchblades and hi-cap magazines are illegal for citizens but legal for law enforcement, and both items are sold online as well as in stores. The online sales require you to send a hard copy of your law enforcement credentials to the company before they will sell to you (both items are legal in many part of the country so this is a CA specific rule) and once they have that on file they will sell to you. I’d imagine ammo sales would work much the same way. Remember we’re not talking about something that can be sent from anywhere in the world, ammo is already pretty regulated even online.

  4. Sorry Sean, Love ya like a bro, but I gotta bat against you on this.

    I know where you are going with this, and using this kind of bill to force shall issue CCW legislation is not the answer. It will not get the support from either camp, and it is totally unenforceable, like all other laws that the Democrats fart out of their heads.

    What about reloaders? What about Cowboy Action shooters who aren’t interested in CCW’s?

    You have to look at CCW issuance rates in the Shall issue states…they are not much higher than California is, and the most liberal of the Shall Issue states hover around 10%. Thats far less than the number of gun owners in the US.

  5. A little bit of info.

    Washington DC has outlawed Ammunition except in the following circumstances:

    Reference is made to information provided on the web site regarding to the District of Columbia. Please take note that the District of Columbia Criminal Law and Procedure, Chapter 7-2506.01 states,

    No person shall possess ammunition in the District of Columbia unless:
    (1) He is a licensed dealer pursuant to subchapter IV;
    (2) He is an officer, agent, or employee of the District of Columbia or the United States of America, on duty and acting within the scope of his duties when possessing such ammunition;
    (3) He is the holder of the valid registration certificate for a firearm of the same gauge or caliber as the ammunition he possesses; except, that no such person shall possess restricted pistol bullets; or
    (4) He holds an ammunition collector’s certificate on September 24, 1976.

    They also have CCW’s available, but seriously restricted.

    Handgun laws are so strict that it is actually illegal to transport a gun within your own property.

    And we all know how effective Washington D.C. was at dealing with thier violent crime issues…

  6. Very interesting read, but restricting the outlets that sell ammunition may be a good way to go. Look at UT and its state run liqour store. Maybe weed down to a few select retailers and have constant supervision of their sales will help curb some of the ammo from being used wrong.

    Note I say curb. If we regulate the hell out of the sales crooks will still have ample ammo. We have 3 states bordering us where one can get their ammo and bring it back here where the criminal can take what he needs for his own uses and then sell on a black market.

    Don’t think it will happen? HA! Take a look at what govt documents you can buy unchecked on the local black market and tell me that ammo won’t continue to flow freely.

    Nice try but in the end the crooks only are inconvenienced a bit. I am so glad you are bringing this topic up for discussion. Who knows maybe a reader will get an idea and find a way to make it work up in SAC.

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