Proposition 63: Firearms. Ammunition Sales; What you have to know.

Since we live in a constitutional republic divided into fifty separate sovereign states, the laws by state can vary significantly, especially when it comes to firearms and ammunition.

While all states have laws regulating firearms and ammunition, some state laws are very lax, while others are more restrictive.

Even before Proposition 63 went into effect in the beautiful state of California on January 1st, 2018, the gun laws there were already quite strict in comparison to the rest of the country. But now, they’ve been made even tighter.

On November 8, 2016, California voters went to the polls to vote, and Proposition 63 was on the ballot. Voters could either vote yes or vote nom and the final count was 63% in favor and 37% against.

Thus, Proposition 63 became law and officially went into effect in January 1st, 2018.

Let’s discuss the nitty gritty details of Proposition 63 and what it means exactly for the citizens of California:

The Ballot Summary of Proposition 63

Proposition 63 is without question one of the largest and most complex laws regarding the sale and possession of firearms and ammunition that has ever gone into effect in the entire country, not just in California.

The official ballot summary of Proposition 63 is as follows:

  • Requires individuals to pass a background check and obtain Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition.
  • Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires their disposal, as specified.
  • Requires most ammunition sales be made through licensed ammunition vendors and reported to Department of Justice.
  • Requires lost or stolen firearms and ammunition be reported to law enforcement.
  • Prohibits persons convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms.
  • Establishes new procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession.
  • Requires Department of Justice to provide information about prohibited persons to federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System

There is also a shorter ballot label summary, which was written as follows:

“Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. Establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons. Requires Department of Justice’s participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Fiscal Impact: Increased state and local court and law enforcement costs, potentially in the tens of millions of dollars annually, related to a new court process for removing firearms from prohibited persons after they are convicted.”

Court Ruling On Possession of ‘High Capacity’ Magazines

Proposition 63 was almost immediately challenged in court by opponents and gun rights advocates, who argued that the bill was unconstitutional and violated the 2nd Amendment in the United States Constitution.

Specifically, opponents argued that the bill’s ban on ‘large capacity magazines’ constituted infringement of the 2nd Amendment. Xavier Becerra, the Democratic Attorney General of California, was the defendant in the case and argued that the ban was constitutional.

Under Proposition 63, possessing magazines that held over ten rounds of ammunition in California was made illegal and either a misdemeanor or an infraction. Previously, it was only illegal to buy or sell them in the state. Furthermore, the law required current owners of ‘high capacity’ magazines to either surrender them to law enforcement or otherwise remove them from the state.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and thus the magazine ban was, at least temporarily, lifted.

Judge Roger Benitez ordered Attorney General Becerra to no longer enforce the magazine ban, arguing that it criminalized law abiding citizens who owned the magazines for defense of ‘self, home, and state.’

Update March 29, 2019:
Prop. 63: Federal judge declares California’s ban on high-capacity gun magazines unconstitutional

Most Significant Changes Under Proposition 63

One of the most significant aspects of Proposition 63 deals with the possession, purchasing, and selling of ammunition.

Let’s discuss the changes made under Proposition 63 in greater detail:

PERMIT TO BUY AMMUNITION

One of the most largest changes to California state law under Proposition 63 is that not just anyone of legal age is allowed to walk into a store and buy ammo now.

Instead, the new law requires you to attain a permit too. Furthermore, whoever is selling you the ammo must check his permit to confirm you have it before they can legally sell it to you.

The permit is issued by the California Department of Justice and is good for four years before it needs to be renewed. So in other words, dealers essentially need to go through the Department of Justice before they can sell ammunition.

PERMIT TO SELL AMMUNITION

You would think that if there’s a required permit to by ammo, then there’s a required permit to sell it as well, and you would be correct.

As with buying ammo, dealers who want to sell ammo need to attain a permit from the California Department of Justice. But unlike the other license that is good for four years, this license is only food for one year.

The only time you are allowed to sell ammo and not need the license is if you are a hunter who sells fifty rounds or less per month.

If you sell more than fifty rounds a month and lack the required permit, and assuming you are caught by the authorities, you will be dealt with a misdemeanor penalty for failing to meet the requirements.

PREVENTING PROHIBITED INDIVIDUALS IN FIREARMS

Proposition 63 also seeks to make it harder for prohibited people from possessing firearms.

Under the new law, the California court has the responsibility to inform any prohibited individual that they have lost the right to own a gun, and that they have three possible options:

Sell their firearms to a dealer licensed with the state of California
Hand over their firearms to a dealer to store
Surrender their firearms over to local law enforcement

It is also the responsibility of probation officers to confirm that prohibited individuals follow the law with their firearms.

BUYING AMMO OUT OF STATE

Under Proposition 63, California residents may longer buy ammunition out of state or online and then transfer it back themselves to California.

Instead, the ammunition must be first delivered to a licensed dealer who can then transfer the ammo over to you.

And again, both you and the dealer must have the appropriate licenses from the Department of Justice in order for this transaction to be fully legal.

Selling Ammunition Legally

As was noted above, selling more than fifty rounds of ammunition a month will require you to attain a one year license from the California Department of Justice.

However, there is one way to get around this and still be able to sell ammo legal, and that is to attain an FFL license.

The reason why this is legal is because the state of California considered any FFL holder to also be a Licensed Ammunition Vendor.

The reason why you may want to go this route if you sell ammo in California is because holding an FFL license allows you to do far more than just the Licensed Ammunition Vendor license. Not only can you buy and sell ammo legally, but you can also become a firearms dealer and have guns shipped to you. You can also get discounts from gun manufacturers on the firearms and products they sell as well, which is pretty cool.

Yes, an FFL license requires far more time and steps to take in order to attain, but it is something to think about getting if you plan on selling large quantities of ammunition in California.

Arguments For and Against Proposition 63

Those who supported Proposition 63 made the following arguments in favor of it:

  • The law would prevent guns and ammunition from falling into the wrong hangs
  • The rights of law abiding citizens to own firearms for self defense, recreational use, or hunting would be preserved
  • Felons would be less likely to be armed with guns

Those who opposed Proposition 63 made the following arguments against it:

  • The law, or at least certain aspects of it, is a violation of the 2nd Amendment
  • The law inflicts significant burdens on law abiding citizens
  • The law does not prevent criminals from owning firearms
  • The law takes away resources from local law enforcement and police agencies
  • The law is a waste of public resources

Opposition Group’s Campaign Ads

Here are some prominent voices against Prop 63 gathered for campaign ads by the Coalition for Civil Liberties:

“Gavin Newsom’s dangerous ballot measure threatens to criminalize law-abiding Californians without taking one weapon out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. Tens of thousands of sheriffs, officers and prosecutors — our frontline law enforcement officials — are opposed to Newsom’s proposal.”


“It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro athlete or an LGBT activist, you have a Constitutional right to protect yourself. Gavin Newsom’s dangerous ballot measure threatens to take away some of your civil rights. His proposal will criminalize law-abiding Californians while doing nothing to stop criminals and terrorists from attacking.”




About the Coalition for Civil Liberties and “Fight Prop 63” / “Stop The Ammo Grab”

The Coalition for Civil Liberties is a diverse group of Californians from all walks of life who have come together to stand against the systematic reduction of our basic civil rights. In 2015 they fought against ill-conceived gun control laws and the political aspirations of anti-2A politicians like Gavin Newsom. In their opinion, the actions of the politicians did nothing to make you more safe, and they are standing against those that restrict your rights to protect our families and others. Therefore they produced several campaign advertisement videos for their campaign “Fight Prop 63” / “Stoptheammograb”.

The Coalition is supported by the following groups:

FAQ About Proposition 63

If you still have questions concerning Proposition 63 and need definitive answers, this section should be able to help you out:

Q: IS IT LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA TO OWN SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLES WITH MILITARY FEATURES SUCH AS THE AR-15 AND AK-47?
A: It’s still legal for Californian residents to own military style semi-automatic rifles, or so called ‘assault rifles’ or assault weapons,’ but as of 2016 they can no longer purchase them from California dealers and anyone who does own them has to register them.

In 2016, California legislators sought to ban the sale of AR-15s with the ‘bullet button,’ which gun control advocates claimed as a big loophole in the state’s assault weapons ban.

Today, the state of California officially defines an ‘assault weapon’ as any semi-automatic or fully-automatic centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine and any one of listed features, such as a collapsible stock or a pistol grip.

Q: IS IT LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA TO OWN A MAGAZINE HOLDING MORE THAN TEN ROUNDS?
A: So called ‘high capacity magazines,’ or magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, have been illegal to purchase in California since 2000. However, those who owned the magazines before then would still be allowed to own them.

Even though Proposition 63 contained a ‘high capacity’ magazine ban on ownership, this part of the law was successfully challenged in the United States District Court of the Southern District of California.

California Attorney General Becerra has appealed the court’s decision, but for now, it is legal to own magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition in the state.

In the near future, the cases will go to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a final decision.

Q: IS IT LEGAL TO BUY AMMO ONLINE IF YOU LIVE IN CALIFORNIA
A: Yes, but the ammunition cannot be sent directly to your home and instead needs to be sent to a licensed dealer. The dealer also then needs to see your four year license that allows you to buy ammunition and charge you a processing fee before they can legally hand over the ammunition.

This new law applies to the whole of California and not to specific cities such as Los Angeles or Sacramento like it did previously.

Q: DO YOU NEED A LICENSE TO BUY AMMUNITION IN CALIFORNIA?
A: Yes, under Prop 63, you need to acquire a four year license from the California Department of Justice in order to purchase ammo.

You are also required to present this license to an ammunition vendor before they can actually sell the ammo to you.

Q: DO YOU NEED A LICENSE TO SELL AMMUNITION IN CALIFORNIA?
A: Yes, so long as you are selling more than fifty rounds of ammunition a month, you do need to acquire a one year license from the California Department of Justice, or otherwise became an FFL holder (in which case you apply to the Federal government).

Q: DO YOU NEED A BACKGROUND CHECK TO BUY AMMUNITION?
A: As of now, no. But it won’t stay that way for long.

Starting in July 2019, you will need to undergo a background check, and through a licensed dealer, before you can both buy and transfer ammo.

Q: CAN YOU BRING AMMUNITION OUT OF STATE INTO CALIFORNIA?
A: Not anymore. Under Prop 63, it is illegal to import ammunition into California that was bought out of state. This changes a 2016 law that allowed hunters to bring fifty rounds out of state into California.

Q: ARE THERE LIMITS TO THE AMOUNT OF AMMO YOU CAN BUY AT ONCE?
A: As of now, no.

Conclusion

To conclude, there is absolutely no question that Proposition 63 has resulted in some of the tightest regulations on ammunition that we have seen yet in the entire country.

In summary, direct mail of ammo to your house, importing ammunition from out of state, or buying or selling ammo without a license is no longer legal under Prop 63. Prop 63 also initiated a ban on the ownership of ‘high capacity’ magazines, but this has been successfully challenged in court for now, and has headed to an appeals court instead.

News & Resources

2016

November

Opinion: Reasons to Vote No on Prop 63
Lake Tahoe News – November 6, 2016

October

Gun Control Measure Divides California’s Politicians, Law Enforcement
The Daily Signal – October 30, 2016

Kevin Drum’s 2016 Guide to California’s Ballot Initiatives
Mother Jones – October 18, 2016

No on Prop. 63; These Gun Laws Won’t Make us Safer: Endorsement
LA Daily News – October 16, 2016

No on Proposition 63
The OC Register – October 15, 2016

Vote No on Proposition 63
Ventura County Star – October 12, 2016

Proposition 63 Won’t Keep Californians Any Safer from Gun Violence
The Fresno Bee – October 12, 2016

Prop 63 Focuses on Politics Before Guns
Santa Cruz Sentinel – October 2, 2016

September

California Lt. Gov Tries to School Olympic Sharpshooter on Guns, Gets Shot Down
Mediaite – September 30, 2016

Olympian Campaigns Against CA’s Prop 63
Bearing Arms – September 30, 2016

Gavin Newsom Duels with Olympic Shooter Over Gun Control Initiative
The Sacramento Bee – September 29, 2016

Backfire Alert! Olympic Shooting Medalist Kim Rhode SCHOOLS Smug Gun-Grabber Gavin Newsom
Twitchy – September 29, 2016

Olympian Kim Rhode Offers to Educate Gavin Newsom on Firearms
Breitbart – September 29, 2016

What You Need to Know About California’s Big Gun Ballot Initiative
Mother Jones – September 29, 2016

Olympian Rallies Against California’s Anti-Gun Ballot Measure
Guns.com – September 28, 2016

Police Chiefs Group Decides to Oppose California’s Gun Control Ballot Proposition
LA Times – September 23, 2016

AM Alert: Police Chiefs Oppose Proposition 63
The Sacramento Bee – September 23, 2016

Vote No on Proposition 63 – LGC in the News
The Liberal Gun Club – September 21, 2016

New Polling Data Should Alarm Responsible Gun Owners
Association of Deputy District Attorneys – September 21, 2016

Vote No: Prop. 63 Piles on Redundant Gun Controls
Bakersfield.com – September 21, 2016

Look Who’s United Against Bullet Control
Tracy Press – September 19, 2016

Sheriffs Continue to Condemn Gavin Newsom’s Gun Control
Breitbart – September 4, 2016

August

County Sheriff: Newsom’s Gun Control Makes Us Criminals
Breitbart – August 31, 2016

Three County Sheriffs ‘Strongly Oppose’ Prop 63’s Potential Gun Controls
Action News Now – August 29, 2016

Tea Party Crowd Discusses Gun Rights
Sierra Star – August 18, 2016

July

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom issues statement on the attacks on Baton Rouge’s peace officers
ABC 10 – July 17, 2016

‘Irrelevant’: De Leon Dismisses Newsom’s Gun Control Measure
NBC LA – July 3, 2016

June

Democrat Lawmaker and Gavin Newsom Compete to See Who Gets to Limit Second Amendment
Breitbart – June 25, 2016

Newsom camp calls de León gun change ‘shockingly, sickeningly cynical’
Sacramento Bee – June 24, 2016

New ad for California gun control campaign focuses on deadly Orlando rampage and other mass shootings
LA Times – June 16, 2016

Insider: Ric Grenell ads look to women, LGBT community
The Desert Sun – June 9, 2016

Jews Reject Gavin Newsom’s Disarmament Plan
Breitbart – June 9, 2016

Latest pro-gun video has LGBT twist just for CA Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
SDGLN – June 8, 2016

Women, LGBT Citizens Wield Guns for Self-Defense in Calif Political Ads
Newsmax – June 6, 2016

New Anti-Gun Control Ads Seek to Rally Women, LGBT Voters
TIME – June 6, 2016

Sheriff Youngblood expresses concern over Lt. Gov. Newsom’s “The Safety for All Act”
KERO Bakersfield: ABC 23 – June 2, 2016

Sheriff voices concerns over Gavin Newsom’s gun law
Bakersfield Now – June 2, 2016

News conference Thursday to address pending gun control initiative
Kern Golden Empire – June 1, 2016

May

Gavin Newsom’s transgender posts about guns stoke online fervor
Sacramento Bee – May 26, 2016

Calif. Lt. Gov. angers civil rights groups for attacking transgender woman’s pro-gun stance
Washington Times – May 25, 2016

Gavin Newsom Calls Transgender Gun Activist ‘Disgusting’
Breitbart California – May 24, 2016

California’s gun control is an opportunity
East Bay Times – May 21, 2016

Valley Law Enforcement Leaders Speak out Against Gun Control Ballot Measure
KVPR: NPR for Central California – May 17, 2016

A showdown with Gavin Newsom over gun politics
Sacramento Bee – May 17, 2016

Fresno County Sheriff Mims attacks Newsom firearms measure
Fresno Bee – May 17, 2016

California ballot: Is a new law that allows activists to yank measures working?
San Jose Mercury News – May 13, 2016

April

Two top California Democrats feud over an issue they agree on: gun control
LA Times – April 22, 2016

KABC – April 20, 2016

GUN CONTROL: Coalition opposed to Gavin Newsom’s initiative alleges wrongdoing in signature drive
The Press Enterprise – April 14, 2016

‘An Ideological Attack Against Guns’: Twitter Cuts Off Pro-Second Amendment Ad
Fox News – April 13, 2016

Twitter Ends Pro-Second Amendment Ad Campaign
Daily Caller – April 13, 2016

Pink Pistols to Gavin Newsom: Don’t take away our gun rights
Fresno Bee – April 7, 2016

March

Ballot measure on guns, ammo hinders law enforcement
OC Register – March 25, 2016

Sheriffs cool to guns & ammo restrictions
OC Register – March 24, 2016

California Sheriffs Unite in Opposition to Gavin Newsom’s Gun Control
Breitbart California – March 19, 2016

L.A. County prosecutors group opposes Lt. Gov. Newsom’s gun control initiative
LA Times – March 16, 2016

Sheriffs Oppose Newsom’s Gun Safety Legislation
KGO810 – March 16, 2016

Gun Measure Push by Lt. Governor Receiving Resistance From Fresno Law Enforcement Leaders
ABC30 (Fresno) – March 15, 2016

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom pushing for new gun control initiative
KERO (Bakersfield) – March 14, 2016

California sheriffs oppose Gavin Newsom’s gun control initiative
Sacramento Bee – March 14, 2016

February

Mass shooting claims by Newsom, Pan rated ‘Mostly False’
Politifact – February 23, 2016

Gavin Newsom ‘Shamelessly Exploiting’ Terror for Gun Control
Breitbart News – February 21, 2016

Campaign Against Gavin Newsom’s Proposed Gun Control Initiative Emerges
KFBK News – February 19, 2016

Opposition campaign launched against Gavin Newsom’s gun control initiative
Los Angeles Times – February 19, 2016

January

Long ago, gun control was hard to do in California
Sacramento Bee – January 8, 2016

2015

October

Newsom is pandering with a phony gun control measure
Sacramento Bee – October 29, 2015

July

Plan to Require Background Checks for Ammunition Sales Is Suspended in New York
New York Times – July 10, 2015