NRA Has California's New Gun Control Laws in Its Sights

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on November 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When much of America swung to the right on Election Night, the Bear Republic tacked left. California voters approved a host of progressive ballot propositions, legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing tobacco, and upholding a ban on plastic bags. Among the victorious state propositions was Prop 63, which requires background checks for ammunition purchases and closes loopholes to the state's large-capacity magazine ban.

Now, after running a muted opposition campaign, gun advocates, including the California affiliate of the National Rifle Association, are planning to take their battle to court.

California's Sort-of-New Ammunition Laws

Interestingly, much of what voters approved in Prop 63 has already been made law. In July, Governor Brown signed legislation that regulated the sale of ammunition, similarly to what Prop 63's backers proposed. That left Prop 63 to largely tweak that system. It, for example, requires ammo sellers to run background checks with the Department of Justice before selling ammunition, rather than checking a buyer's permit. It established misdemeanor penalties for not following dealer licensing requirements and closes loopholes on the ban on high-capacity magazines. It also requires Californians to report lost or stolen guns, and allows guns to be confiscated from felons.

Here's how the long-form ballot summarized the Prop:

  • 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.

California Rifle & Pistol Association Vows Action

Despite describing Prop 63 as "redundant," the California Rifle & Pistol Association, California's arm of the NRA, vowed to challenge the new law in court, according to Mother Jones. Its president, Chuck Michel, says that "here are different parts of it that are vulnerable on different theories. [Prop 63] is a collection of separate laws, and each one would be challenged separately, and on different grounds."

Action is expected "soon." "We're not going to wait until they can go into effect," Michel says.

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