California Lawmakers Reject Background Checks for Ammo Purchases

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posted on September 9, 2014
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The California State Senate rejected SB 53, a bill introduced by incoming Senate president Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) effectively requiring background checks for ammunition purchases.

Sen. de Leon originally proposed a measure requiring residents who purchase ammunition to obtain a state permit and undergo a background check before the purchase to ensure they could legally own firearms, but Gov. Jerry Brown opposed it.

As a result, SB 53 was amended numerous times in an attempt to force its passage. The version that failed by six votes on Aug. 30 would have required ammunition sellers to provide information on purchasers to the state Department of Justice after the fact, including buyer name, address and date of birth, in addition to the date of the sale, brand, ammunition type and quantity.

It was opposed by the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.

If passed, the measure would have created an ammunition registration list, just as California's universal background checks for gun purchases have created a registry for all types of firearms. It also would have empowered police not only to confiscate firearms from those "disqualified from owning them," but ammunition as well — after the fact.

Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) explained his vote against the SB 53, saying,"I'm tired of this chamber picking winners and losers and if we pass this, we're going to kill another industry here in California."

The bill's defeat came less than a week after a federal judge found California's 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases unconstitutional.

In the decision issued Aug. 25, Federal Eastern District of California Senior Judge Anthony W. Ishii, appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, found that "the 10-day waiting periods of Penal Code [sections 26815(a) and 27540(a)] violate the Second Amendment" as applied to members of certain classifications, like Silvester and Combs, and "burdens the Second Amendment rights of the Plaintiffs."

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