California Ammo Fail: 20 Percent of Eligible Purchasers Denied Due to Database Errors

California has made it difficult to buy ammo, and its system hassles legal buyers. (Photo: Levi Sim)

As of July, it’s been a lot more difficult to buy ammunition in California. The state requires an eligibility check before any sale, but even those who should be eligible are being denied.

The Law Is Broken

Ryan Sabalow reports in the Sacramento Bee that nearly 20% of all ammunition purchases have been rejected from July through November. These regulations are meant to stop those who are not eligible to buy ammunition from making a purchase, but the numbers show that’s it’s not working that way.

Sabalow says the state’s data show that 345,547 people have applied for an ammo purchase. Of those, only 101 were stopped because they are truly ineligible. 62,000 other people were denied because of typographical errors between databases. For some reason, they have different databases for the state driver’s licenses and the state gun registry. If a clerk wrote a name differently or if an address doesn’t match, then a person is denied.

Sabalow talked with a sheriff’s deputy who was also denied based on the same kind of clerical error, even though law enforcement officers are supposed to be exempt.

In fact, California requires ammo buyers to have the new REAL ID driver’s license, which verifies your nationality before you get the license. Interestingly, the TSA is going to require this sort of license before you can get on a plane. But they’re giving everyone until October 2020 to get the updated license.

Incredibly, California has made a process more difficult than even the TSA could have done.

Does A Stronger Database Mean Weaker Freedoms?

Since 2014, California has required the registration of all gun purchases. So-called “assault weapons” and handguns must all be registered–but don’t worry, there’s a very clear 2001 document on what guns are considered “assault weapons”…although, the 2017 update still isn’t available.

If you move to California and bring any guns with you, you must register those (and you’re considered a firearms importer).

All ammo purchases are now registered, too, and thanks to these denials based on clerical errors, the database is becoming very accurate regarding who has what guns and where they are located.

California also has a red flag law. That means several of the people in your life may report you to the police, suggesting that you are a danger to those around you. If a judge believes there’s even the slightest bit of merit to the accusation, law enforcement will seize your guns.

You’re not paranoid: You actually are being watched.

What About Buying Ammo Out-of-State?

If you’re a California resident, you can drive to Nevada and purchase as much ammunition as you want. You just can’t bring any of it back to California. You could ship it to an ammo dealer and submit it to the eligibility check, but you can’t just drive home with it in the car.

Also, if you’re a non-resident of California, it’s extremely difficult to buy ammo. This is troublesome for those in the military who don’t become residents of California while stationed there.

Strangely, if you are not a resident of California, you can bring your own ammo to the state without shipping it to a dealer. That makes it easier for hunters to come from out-of-state. Unless they forget their ammo, then you’re out of luck unless you can borrow some from a local friend.

Law Inhibits New Shooters & Economy

I personally have two experiences here in Idaho to relate. The other day I took the kids out to hunt small game on a whim. Halfway to the woods, I realized that I forgot the .22 LR ammo. So, I stopped at the gas station and bought a box. The gas station would probably not be a registered dealer ammo dealer in California.

Last week, I had a friend visiting who is a college student in Utah, but she’s from Taiwan, ROC. We went to Walmart and she bought a hunting license and ammo, and we went to the woods where she hunted for the first time. She had a great experience.

In California, neither of these experiences could have happened. The law makes it very difficult for new shooters to get started. You’d have to really like shooting to stick with it. There are 62,000 purchases that didn’t happen, and that’s not great for the economy.

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About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Uncle Owen February 12, 2021, 5:57 am

    Two things.
    1. Leave California.
    2. Don’t bring your problems with you when you leave.

  • catawampus December 15, 2019, 11:48 pm

    Criminal gangs don’t have any problem getting guns or ammunition, why is that? with 4 or 5 million illegals currently in Calif what if four or five thousand of them wanted to take over some area and arm themselves, not possible, the legal paper work is overwhelming. Don’t worry a Democrat with a big pile of paperwork for you to fill out is coming to the rescue.

  • Boz December 13, 2019, 3:33 pm

    Please God, let Kalifornia snap off and slide into the ocean soon. VERY soon. Amen.

  • Shan December 13, 2019, 1:11 pm

    As a California slave tax payer I absolutely crave freedom. I was denied the other day trying to buy ammo. The guy in front of me too. He had served two tours in Iraq. Mind you I have a real ID, correct address, no criminal history, 100% law abiding I often wonder what it must be like to live in a common sense free American state. I crave freedom.

  • The SGM December 13, 2019, 10:51 am

    Typical CA reaction to a known problem; has CA accomplished anything state wise and in coordination with the Feds to assist in purging the current system and in making sure that all State Agencies are inputting timely and correct information on its citizens. Or, is the State just making noise for an internal failure

  • Pete December 13, 2019, 9:25 am

    Spot on, Mr. Sparkles! Those “problems” they’re having are features, not bugs!….

  • Mr. Sparkles December 13, 2019, 6:51 am

    The reality is that this is working exactly the way the gun grabbers intended. They rely on the general incompetence of the “system” to do by accident that which is unconstitutional to do intentionally. That is why it is a bad idea to give them anything.

    Give a moose a cookie and he’ll want a glass of milk.

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