Law requiring background checks to buy ammo takes effect

POWAY, Calif. --  Several bills that were signed into law during the last legislative session will go into effect on July 1, including a law that requires gun owners to pass a background check when buying ammunition.

It's causing a surge in ammo sales throughout San Diego County.

Starting Monday, people buying ammunition in California will face the same background checks required for purchasing a gun.

“Once the background check goes, we have to report people and what they’re buying, how much they’re buying, the make, model, caliber,” said Danielle Rudolph, director of sales at Poway Weapons & Gear.

The system is supposed to take just minutes to approve, but no one knows if it will actually work that fast until tomorrow. “They say it’s up to two minutes, but we’ll see -- because if the system doesn’t work, it’s going to be a lot longer than two minutes,” Rudolph said.

Retailers said the potential for delays has customers stocking up before the law goes into effect. Background checks for gun sales usually take about 10 days, but the background check required to purchase ammunition is supposed to be much faster.

Rudolph said once customers heard about the new law, the store could barely keep bullets on its shelves. “I’ve seen people come in with carts and take carts home,” she said. “We are currently over 4.6 million rounds in the month of June. We have done over 8 million rounds in two months for the ammo’s last day of freedom."

California already has among the strictest gun laws in the country. The new "ammo law" passed in 2016 with support from 63% of California voters.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and other proponents said the new law will save lives by keeping ammunition out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have it. “At the end of the day, guns don’t kill people. Unless a gun is used as a blunt instrument a gun is not particularly dangerous. A gun requires a dangerous component, and that’s ammunition,” Newsom said.

But those opposed said the law adds a layer of bureaucracy and another way for the California Department of Justice to regulate their right to bear arms. “We’re going to have to register, do some kind of crazy paperwork just to come in and buy ammo for a weekend with the kids. It’s just ridiculous,” one customer said.

Some opponents are suing in the hope of eventually undoing the law they said harms millions of law-abiding gun owners.

Meanwhile, Danielle said Poway Weapons & Gear will remain open until 10 p.m. Sunday -- and if earlier sales are any indication, she expects to sell out of her stock of bullets before the day is over.

“People are definitely stocking up and they’re taking advantage of buying it now,” Rudolph said.

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