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California’s background checks for ammunition buyers start Monday

A handgun with ammunition on white background

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is about to become the first state to require gun owners to pass background checks before buying ammunition.

Under the new law, which goes into effect Monday, ammunition vendors will have to enter the buyer’s name, date of birth and current address and the number from a driver’s license or other government-issued ID into a state computer system to find out whether the information matches and whether the person is eligible to own a firearm.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the rules will help keep communities safe

“Gun safety laws save lives,” Newsom said Tuesday.

The new law is part of Proposition 63, passed in 2016.

“At the end of the day, it is a perverse fact: Guns don’t kill people. Unless a gun is used as a blunt instrument, a gun is not particularly dangerous,” Newsom said. “A gun requires a dangerous component, and that’s ammunition.”

The state Department of Justice will run the program and make sure that ammunition is not sold to people who are prohibited from owning it.

Buyers will pay a $1 processing fee each time they purchase bullets or shotgun shells to cover the cost of the standard background check. If they’re not in the database, buyers will have to pay a $19 fee for a more extensive check.

Some gun dealers have reported a surge in ammunition sales as people try to stock up before the the law goes into effect.

Chris Puehse, who owns Foothill Ammo outside Sacramento, told CNN affiliate KCRA that his store had made a month’s worth of ammunition sales in just 10 days.

“Everyone that sells ammunition in the state has done really well selling ammunition. People are running in and really stockpiling,” Puehse said.

“I think that law is stimulating that buying frenzy, as we call it,” Don Reed of DGS Ammo & Airguns in Sacramento told KCRA.

The state estimates that there will be 13.2 million ammunition purchases or transfers each year and that 13 million of those will be made by people who are eligible under the standard background check.

California has about 4.5 million registered gun owners.

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