January 7, 2020

YOU DON’T SAY: California’s new ammo law hurts the wrong people — and doesn’t stop ‘bad guys’ with guns.

When California started requiring people to pass background checks to buy ammunition on July 1, hunters hoped for the best and braced for the worst. What happened was far worse than we feared.

The premise of the new law is that people who can’t have guns shouldn’t have ammo either. I don’t know anyone who disputes that. Bad guys shouldn’t have guns or ammo.

The law says if you do not appear on a prohibited-persons list and you have passed a background check to buy a gun during the time the state has stored those records in a database, you can buy ammunition. Simple, right?

Here’s where it fell apart: The state Department of Justice finalized regulations to implement the law just before it took effect. There was no time, and no effort, to raise awareness, no time for gun owners to verify they were in the database, and most critically, that their ID matched their information in the database.

In the first four months, the checks thwarted 101 ammunition purchases by prohibited persons, and a staggering 62,000 purchases by people who had every right to buy ammunition. More than half of the rejections were due to data mismatches, such as an address change; one-third were because buyers weren’t in the database.

That’s 620 good guys for every bad guy.

That means it’s working. No, really — the law wasn’t meant to stop bad guys, but to stigmatize law-abiding gun-owners. By that measure, the law is working as designed (if not as advertized).

Note: This one is actually a couple of weeks old, but the browser tab got lost in the holiday madness.

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