California’s mandatory background check law to buy ammo went into effect on Monday, and it’s not going well. The system is reportedly running very slowly with no customer support.
“I’ve had one customer, and I had to turn them away because I couldn’t get into the system,” Don Reed, owner of DGS Ammo & Airguns in Sacramento, told ABC News. “He seemed a little bit perturbed. … There’s a lot of people feel like they’re being held hostage suddenly — punishing the people who’ve been doing it the right way.”
“So far it doesn’t work at all. My system doesn’t let me access it,” said Steve Converse of Ade’s Gun Shop.
“I can’t believe the amount of paper it wastes,” remarked Scott Emmett, the manager of the Ammo Bros store in San Diego. “This one transaction for two types of ammo was almost eight pages long.”
Emmett said the system was down for the first 45 minutes and there was no support. “I sat on the phone for about 40 minutes and no one answered.”
In 2016, California voters approved the law and it’s just now coming into play. The law requires background checks for all ammo sales, and there are three kinds of checks.
Here’s the breakdown from the California Department of Justice, which administers the law.
- Standard Ammunition Eligibility Check: This eligibility check can be used by an individual whose information matches an entry in the Automated Firearms System and does not fall within a class of persons who are prohibited from owning or possessing ammunition. A determination may be completed in approximately 2 minutes. The fee for a Standard Ammunition Eligibility Check is $1.00.
- Certificate of Eligibility Verification Check: This eligibility check may be used by individuals who have a current Certificate of Eligibility to acquire or possess firearms. A determination may be completed in approximately 2 minutes. The fee for a Certificate of Eligibility Verification Check is $1.00.
- Basic Ammunition Eligibility Check: This eligibility check can be used by individuals who do not possess a current Certificate of Eligibility to acquire or possess firearms, or do not already have information entered in the Automated Firearm System. A determination may take several days to complete. The fee for the Basic Ammunition Eligibility Check is $19.00.
If you’ve registered a firearm in California, then you’ll probably qualify for one of the first two checks that cost just $1. You’ll need a valid California Driver’s License.
But, if you’re a new shooter you’ll be waiting days to get your bullets. Oh, and you’ll have to add $19 to the cost of that box of $6 shells. At least you’ll be able to buy more ammo under the same check for 30 days.
If you’re an out-of-stater, you simply cannot buy ammo in California.
The California DOJ says the law should keep ammo out of the hands of those deemed unfit. “The eligibility checks ensure purchasers are not prohibited from owning or possessing ammunition due to a felony and/or violent misdemeanor conviction or warrant, domestic violence restraining order, or mental health issue.”
The California Rifle and Pistol Association says they are “working in the field and in the courtroom to stop these ridiculous laws.” They have filed an active lawsuit against the Attorney General, Rhode v. Becerra.
Kim Rhode, an Olympic gold medal shooter who shoots thousands of rounds every week and is negatively affected by this law, is listed as the plaintiff in the case. The National Rifle Association is also involved in this suit.
This background check law was joined on July 1st by the law banning all lead from hunting use, though it can still be used for target shooting and self-defense.
With this huge impediment to purchasing ammo, how will the Pitman-Robertson revenues be affected? If you and I go to the range, and you give me some shells to shoot, is that an illegal transfer? Will this law lead to stockpiling ammo and illegally bringing ammo across state lines?