California Lieutenant Governor wants to do background checks...on ammo

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom wants to make it illegal for people to buy ammunition without passing a background check. He’s expected to announce the ballot initiative later today in San Francisco, and Los Angeles Times notes a similar law was rejected a few years ago.

Newsom’s proposal would also beef up rules for ammunition sales and purchases, applying the same rules that already exist for firearms. Someone buying bullets would be subject to the same background check as someone buying a gun.

Similar proposals were introduced in the Legislature two years ago but did not pass.

There are a couple problems with this, the first being it’s just redundant. The gun laws in California are so tight, it’s unlikely anyone legally buying a gun wouldn’t have already passed a background check. It’s possible a criminal would go to Walmart to buy ammo, but this 2012 thread at shows only two Walmarts sell ammo and those are in the San Diego area. The second issue is how easy it is for people to get around the law if it goes into effect. There are plenty of online outlets which sell ammunition, so unless Newsom wants every big box which isn’t from Amazon or checked by law enforcement (and they’ll need a warrant) there’s no way he can prevent people from buying bullets online. There’s a failure of logic here.

Newsom also wants to make it tougher for people convicted of crimes to own guns, but doesn’t really go into detail. It’s possible he means felons and other covered under The Gun Control Act of 1968. The problem with the law is it also means people who aren’t violent criminals (see people convicted of fraud or tax evasion or theft or drugs) will lose their right to own a gun. So it means you’ll have non-violent felons or people who get a year in jail because of a misdemeanor having to turn their guns over to police, send them out of state, or sell to a licensed firearm dealer. This isn’t right because if someone is non-violent they don’t deserve to have their rights taken away. This is the problem with mandatory minimums. The people who end up being convicted of a crime which has a mandatory minimum, means they’re going to lose their rights when they don’t deserve to. It just doesn’t make sense to force people who are non-violent to turn in their guns if they’re convicted of a non-violent felony.

The ballot initiative also has a section on large-capacity magazines and what to do with people who owned them before the state’s ban was passed. From The Sacramento Bee:

It would ban the possession of large-capacity magazines – more than 10 rounds – and require anyone who currently has them to sell to a licensed firearm dealer, transfer them out of state or relinquish them to law enforcement to be disposed of.

This is completely, absolutely unenforceable. Unless police are going to go door-to-door to every California home (with a warrant) to confiscate all magazines which carry over ten rounds, all people have to do is just not turn in the magazines. Sure they might get extra charges if the cops find a high-capacity magazine, but there’s no way to enforce this unless you’re going to do confiscation. The fact Newsom or anyone else thinks this is a law which should be passed is just completely ludicrous.

It’s going to take 366,000 signatures to get Newsom’s initiative on the ballot, so more than likely that’s going to happen. But the big problem with this ballot initiative is it’s not going to do anything to make people actually be more safe. Someone who wants to get ammo can simply go across state lines to Nevada or Arizona where there’s not a background check or order online. The same goes for people who want to own a large-capacity magazine. There’s also a black market for those who want to get a hold of a gun if they’re barred from buying one legally. All this does is make it harder for gunowners who want to follow the law to be able to protect themselves. A gang member isn’t going to care about the law, and police and politicians should realize this. It’s all just the politics of fear and it shouldn’t be surprising to see Newsom engage in it. He was San Francisco mayor when the infamous and execrable Proposition H passed which was a gun ban and was later declared unconstitutional. Newsom doesn’t like guns and that’s fine; he doesn’t have to. But the Second Amendment is the Second Amendment. As much as he would probably like that to go away, it can’t unless enough people pass a federal constitutional amendment banning guns. But the way this is going, how soon is California just going to declare everyone a criminal? That’d get rid of guns real quick (note sarcasm).

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