California already had among the strictest gun laws in the country. On January 1, a new law takes effect that prohibits buyers from purchasing ammunition online and having it shipped home. The new law requires buyers to pick up their ammunition orders from a licensed vendor instead of having ammunition mailed directly to their homes. The city of Sacramento already had a law on its books that prohibited direct mail of ammunition and empty cartridges to customers.

At some vendors, a steady stream of customers purchased ammunition out of concern that ammo will be harder to obtain and also more expensive. Purchasers of ammunition will have to get their ammunition delivered to a licensed deal approved by California’s department of justice rather than at home. At the dealers, customers will have to complete additional paperwork and pay a storage fee. In July 2019, ammo buyers will also face a background check.

California’s department of justice had not issued guidelines for stores to obtain approval to sell ammunition. Some small stores are expected to stop selling ammunition. Larger stores that already have a federal firearms license are grand-fathered into the new program, which means they can continue selling ammunition when the law takes effect. 

Under the new law, residents of California may not import ammunition purchased in other states. While the California legislature passed a bill in 2016 that would have allowed hunters to import as many as 50 rounds from out of state without taking it to a dealer, Proposition 63 overrides that freedom, according to the Department of Justice. As of now, there is no limit on the amount of ammunition that can be purchased.

No campus concealed carry

Another law takes effect that eliminates authority once held by school administrators to decide whether school employees bearing concealed carry permits would be allowed to bring firearms on campus. The new law bans guns on campus entirely.

Under Assembly Bill 725, which is now in force, anyone convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes will lose their Second Amendment right to own a gun for 10 years. The Disarm Hate Act passed the California Legislature without a single “no” vote in October and adds to the state's growing list of misdemeanor crimes that result in an automatic 10-year prohibition on possessing a firearm. These additions include persons convicted of misdemeanor interference with another person’s civil rights or damage of property because of perceived race, religion, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. Violations would be a felony and result in a lifetime gun ban, up to a year in jail, and fines of $1,000.

State Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles said in September 2017, “It is saddening to think that when people look back at this period in our history, it will be marred by incidents of hate, violence and turmoil,” adding, "Since we cannot undo the past, we can diffuse early signs of hate in people and disarm hate-motivated threats from becoming barbaric acts of violence and begin to write a more promising future.”

The Violence Prevention Coalition, Brady Campaign, the Coalition Against Gun Violence, and Americans for Responsible Solutions came out in support of the bill. “From the Pulse nightclub shooting to the sickening protest in Charlottesville, our nation has seen tragedy unfold when hatred and bigotry are emboldened,” said former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “It gives me hope to see states, like California, not only recognize the realities of hatred in our society, but actively work to make it harder for dangerous people fueled by hate-filled intentions to access firearms and commit crimes.”

Limits on bullet buttons, long guns, and magazines

In another limitation on the Second Amendment, the California legislature has made an entire class of firearms illegal to sell. Legislators addressed the so-called “bullet button,” which is a device used to remove a magazine in a semi-automatic rifle that replaces the magazine so as to force the user to remove the magazine by using a special tool as opposed to using a finger. California state lawmakers approved in 2016 a bill that defines such firearms as “assault weapons. Thus, the sale of such firearms was made illegal. In addition, they must be registered with the state government by June 30, 2018.

California now defines an “assault weapon” as any semi-automatic, centerfire rifle, or semi-automatic pistol that lacks a fixed magazine and has a protruding pistol grip or a folding or telescoping stock, among other features.

Californians who owned detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition were supposed to get rid of them by July 2017 or face criminal penalties. However, due to legal challenges posed by defenders of the Second Amendment, a California judge issued an injunction this year to postpone the ban until the the legal challenges are decided. 

In the fall, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill into law that makes it a misdemeanor as of January 1 to openly carry an unloaded long gun in an unincorporated area of a county. However, the law currently applies only in areas where county supervisors have prohibited shooting firearms. Most counties lack such shooting bans. National Forests, gun ranges, wildlife refuges, and other specific areas where shooting is currently allowed would not fall under the ban.

However, in California, law enforcement officials are exempt from some of the rules regarding,  ammunition, assault weapons, and magazines, Federal firearms license holders are also exempt from some of the rules. Further information can be found at the Department of Justice firearms website.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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