Another California Atrocity: New ammunition registration insanity begins this Monday
By JIM MATTHEWS
Anyone buying ammunition will have to register the purchase and undergo a “an ammunition eligibility” check beginning on Monday (July 1) this week. Under both legislation passed and a proposition voters approved in the last statewide general election in 2016, legal gun owners have again been targeted for discriminatory laws, harassment, and taxation. While the legislation is being challenged in court on a number of grounds, the reality is that beginning tomorrow, we will have to pay a fee and deal with yet another bureaucratic step.
In every other “free” state, ammunition is treated like a box of nails and available for purchase off store shelves or available via mail order shipments from out-of-state sellers. In California, we now must purchase ammunition in a face-to-face transaction. The ammunition is housed behind the counter (no more grabbing four boxes of dove loads and taking them to the cashier). We also can’t mail order hand-to-find ammunition and have it delivered directly to our homes. We have to have it shipped to a dealer, a quasi-background check run, and pay the state fee and a dealer service charge.
So what does buying ammunition now entail and how much will it cost? I spoke with Bill Ortiz, the Turner’s Outdoorsman guru in charge of all things regulatory and bureaucratic for the statewide 27-store chain, this past week. It turns out in will be simple and inexpensive for many gun owners, but not so much for others.
First, you will be asked for a form of identification – a driver’s license (either a Real ID or an older Legacy license), a Passport, or a Permanent Naturalization Card (“Green” card for legal non-citizens). The green card will be required if you have a driver’s license that has the “Federal Limits Apply” designation.
Second, and most importantly from a cost and annoyance standpoint, is whether or not you have purchased a firearm in California recently. If you have purchased a handgun anytime since 1990 or a long gun (rifle or shotgun) any time since 2014, you are listed on the California Department of Justice’s Automated Firearm System (AFS). You will simply pay a $1 fee each time you buy ammunition to have your name run through that system (which shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes).
Simple, right? Well, not so fast. This is where the nightmares begin.
If you have moved, and the address on your current ID is different than in the AFS system; or if you have married or divorced or otherwise changed your name since you bought a gun here, you are going to be dinged $19 for the more comprehensive background check when you buy ammunition. There is a chance you might have to wait around some time for this check to be completed. Hours? Days? Ortiz said the DOJ was not making any promises.
Worst of all, after all this, you are still not going to be listed in the AFS system, and you will be dinged $19 each time you buy ammunition in the future. And wait again. Apparently, the only way to get listed in the AFS system is to either buy a new gun (or register an old firearm not in the system), then you can become – what to call it – a preferred DOJ customer and only have to pay the $1 fee.
(I supposed you could look at this in a positive light: “Honey, I have to buy a new gun or I’ll have to pay this stupid $19 fee every time I buy a box of shotgun shells to go shoot at the trap range.”)
There are a lot of other nuances and crazy stuff in the law. For example, law enforcement officers while technically exempt, have to have a certification letter from their boss they are still employed and in good standing when they purchase ammunition. The badge is not enough. Really, that is the law.
You also can’t purchase ammunition out of California in a near by “a free state,” as Ortiz called all other Western states, and bring it back in to California legally under this law. So if you go to one of the big Las Vegas gun shows to get a good deal on ammunition, you will be violating the law if you bring it home.
For those of us who own guns legally for shooting and hunting, we understand there is virtually zero reason for the legislation except to harass legal gun owners. It will not have an impact on reducing or solving crimes. It will not reduce gun crimes. It is not even about that. If you doubt that, here’s just one fact for you:
In California, there are about 1 million background checks run a year for firearms purchases. If you are a felon or other person prohibited from owning a gun (domestic abuser, clinically determined to be a danger to others, etc.), you are kicked out of the background check system and denied the firearm purchase. The feds and DOJ say about one percent of background checks are turned down. That means around 100,000 felons or domestic abusers are denied purchases of firearms each year.
That’s good, right? The answer is yes and no. It is a crime – a felony – for them to even attempt to purchase a firearm. You’d think the DOJ would be out rounding up these felons and placing them back behind bars. Do you know how many prosecutions for felons attempting to buy firearms are made each year? It’s well less than 100 in California and an average of only 32 a year federally.
So, what’s the point? Why do we even bother with the background check if the government is not going to prosecute those who violate the law? Now, there will probably be 75 to 100 million ammunition background checks run in California over the next year – and for what purpose?
The only possible explanation is that even legal gun owners are considered a deplorable element of our society, and that it is expected the state government should discriminate against us, add fees are regulatory burdens to the sin of owning and shooting a gun, of believing in an obscure document called the Constitution.
I’m of the opinion that every gun owner in California (at least those of us who only have to pay the $1 fee) should buy a box of ammunition at a local gun store this coming week as a little poll for the governor and all his gun-hating cronies in Sacramento. Let’s let him know how many of us this offends with a little purchase. A lot of hunters and shooters have been hording ammunition before this stupid ammunition scheme, but let’s make this week a week to vote and clog their system.
Note: For more detailed information on the requirements in the new ammunition purchase laws. Turner’s Outdoorsman has a brief, detailed explanation on its website at this direct link: https://www.turners.com/info/california-ammo-registration-faqs.
DFW completes 177-page
drought monitoring report
Anyone who watches network television has seen the commercial with the guy in a dentist’s chair that concludes with the examiner delivering bad news about the teeth but saying he’s not doing anything because they just “monitor” the problem.
Well, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has become just that monitor. As a prime example of that, the agency proudly released a 177-page document three-plus years in the making entitled “Statewide Drought Response: Stressor Monitoring.” The report is comprehensive in that it details surveys and work done throughout the state over the past few years that measure fish populations and health of flowing waters. That takes up 176 pages. There is one page of recommendations that says essentially one thing: We should continue and expand monitoring. It then lists a whole bunch of program areas that could benefit from more monitoring.
Did we really need a 177-page document, replete with colorful charts and graphs and color photographs, to tell our state DFW scientists that we need data to protect or enhance resources and set management goals? Well, duh.
The DFW management diverted an immense amount of time and manpower away from their core missions to produce this little manifesto that did little more than pat themselves on the back for the work they do to justify and support their never-implemented programs. “We are good at monitoring,” the report said, and explained that in detail.
The report did not offer new information on how to better protect or enhance resources. It did not offer solutions to existing, well-documented problems. It did not move forward management plans that have been bouncing around in DFW computers for years if not decades, stagnating without implementation. It did not even identify the highest priority problems the agency needed to address. The agency has the data to do all these things, but it did not and will not.
The report did nothing except to say we should continue and expand monitoring. Nothing will ever be done because there will always need to be more monitoring, more data, before the agency can make a decision. Then the data will be outdated and require more monitoring.
Back to the TV commercial analogy, the teeth will rot out before the patient (our resources) sees anything more than monitoring.
This report illustrates just the tip of the iceberg that is sinking the DFW ship from within. It points to the basic problems of leadership and the direction the DFW has taken in recent years. The DFW has become a bureaucratic, monitor-only agency, paralyzed with inaction, an activity it has elevated to high art.
Note: You can read a copy of this DFW report linked here on the DFW website.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 909-887-3444.