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Will ammunition registration bill create plethora of new ammunition reloaders?


I have been reloading my own centerfire ammunition since I was 16 years old (that is over 45 years for anyone who wants the math).

For those of you who know nothing about firearms, that is the process of taking a fired brass cartridge case, resizing it back to like-new dimensions, replacing the primer (which ignites the powder when struck by the firing pin), adding the correct type and amount of powder, and then seating a new bullet into the cartridge case. The finished product is a new round of ammunition.

Back when I was a kid we reloaded for a variety of reasons: It was far cheaper than buying new ammunition. You couldn’t get some of the best hunting, target, or economical bullets in loaded rounds. Usually, fine-tuned reloaded ammunition was far more accurate than factory ammunition. For meticulous reloaders, our ammunition was simply better and more precise. While all of those reasons still apply today, they don’t apply to the same degree they did back in the 1970s and 80s. The variety and quality of factory ammunition is greater than it has ever been.

The “cheaper” reason was still probably the biggest draw for most shooters and hunters who gravitated to reloading in recent years. One of the biggest costs in ammunition is the brass cartridge case, and they can be used many times by the judicious reloader.

Now, there’s a new reason to start reloading for California gun owners. The state’s legislature and votes have passed a moronic ammunition registration mandate that will begin being implemented Jan. 1, 2018. Starting that date, all shooters will have to register when they buy ammunition and pay an additional tax on the purchase. A year later, Jan. 1, 2019, we will also have to pass a background check (just like the dealer record of sale (DROS) process needed today for buying a firearm). The tax on each purchase will go up to cover the cost of running the background check.

The legislation also prevents gun owners from mail ordering ammunition or buying ammunition except from licensed ammunition dealers.

There is no rationale for the bill except to harass legal gun owners. It is simply state-sanctioned discrimination against a class of people, people who choose to own firearms.

Those of us who reload won’t be affected -- at least not until the next round of senseless gun laws are passed. For now, you will still be able to buy bullets, brass, powder, and primers from dealers without registration and background checks. You will still be able to order over the Internet and have all the components delivered to your home or business.

If you shoot centerfire rifle, pistol, or shotgun ammunition, you can take up reloading to legally skirt this onerous mandate. Rimfire ammunition generally isn’t reloaded, but at the SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show) held this January in Las Vegas, a company was showing off a rimfire reloading kit. Reloading rimfire ammunition (which is very inexpensive) may cost more than purchasing factory loaded ammo, even with the new state taxes and registration fees starting in 2018. Yet, I’m going to start reloading my rimfires, too.

If I didn’t already reload, I’d start reloading simply as an act of principal and defiance – an act of protest. The state has no right or justification for this ammunition registration and taxation scheme. Yet, here we are.

Shooters protesting this legislation won’t be running around carrying placards saying stuff like, “Not My Gun Law” or “Discrimination Against 25 Percent of the State ISN’T Right.” (For you who don’t know, around 25 percent of Californians own firearms.)

No, we won’t be rioting in Sacramento or Berkeley, busting windows, and setting police cars on fire. We’ll be in our garages whipping up the most accurate ammunition we’ve ever shot through our modern sporting arms (which some of you might stupidly and wrongly call “assault rifles”). We’ll be out target shooting even more with those guns because by reloading we can make more ammunition for less money. We’ll do that as long as we still have a little freedom.


[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.]

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