Proposed California ammo regs: $5 fee per transfer, storage fees

The California Department of Justice last week unveiled its proposed new regulations for ammunition vendor licensing, set to take effect in 2018.

Part of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s successful “Safety for All” voter referendum, Proposition 63 requires background checks prior to all ammunition sales. Voters approved the initiative 63-37 in the general election last fall and DOJ was required to implement the regulations by July 1 to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018, so that vendors could begin the process of applying for licenses. However, as pointed out by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the proposed regs were only submitted quietly last week and still need lengthy public comment before they can take effect.

Among Prop. 63’s more rigid requirements would be that the sale of ammo without a license carries a misdemeanor for any business or person selling more than 500 rounds per month. Internet sales, unless they use a local licensed ammo vendor as a middleman, would be illegal. Vendors, who would have to get a $198 annual permit, can charge a purchaser a fee of up to $5 per sale on cartridges immediately available and additional storage fees for special orders. This is in addition to any DOJ fee.

Further, ammo would have to be displayed in a way that it is not accessible to the public, such as in a locked case or cabinet. Violations could result in the vendor having their license suspended for six months, or revoked with at least a year passing before another could be applied for.

Those who want to purchase ammunition would need to get a four-year $50 permit, which would require a background check, for which rules are being formulated to implement in 2019. Eventually, records on all sales and transfers of ownership of ammunition will be electronically transmitted to DOJ, though the means to do so currently are nonexistent.

The proposed regs come as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office has suffered the twin rejections of initial plans going after once-grandfathered “pre-ban” magazines by a federal court while the California Office of Administrative Law blocked proposed new rules redefining “assault weapons” and bullet buttons.

A public hearing for ammo vendor licensing is set for Aug. 28 at the Resources Building Auditorium, in Sacramento and further public comment can be emailed to regulations@doj.ca.gov or faxed to (916) 227-1068.

Meanwhile, gun rights groups have promised legal scrutiny over the measure’s implementation, meaning any adopted regulation could see a challenge in court.