California Proposition 63, Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban (2016)

A “yes” vote supports prohibiting the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.
A “no” vote opposes this proposal to prohibit the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and require certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.

Regulation of ammunition in California
In July 2016, California enacted legislation to regulate the sale of ammunition. The legislation requires individuals and businesses to obtain a one-year license from the California Department of Justice to sell ammunition. The legislation also requires sellers to conduct background checks of purchasers with the Department of Justice.[1]

Changes to state law
Proposition 63 would require individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a permit. Dealers would be required to check this permit before selling ammunition. The measure would eliminate several exemptions to the large-capacity magazines ban and increase the penalty for possessing them. Proposition 63 would also enact a court process that attempts to ensure prohibited individuals do not continue to have firearms.[1]

Proposition 47 of 2014 made stealing an item that is valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor. Therefore, stealing a gun valued at less than $950 is a misdemeanor. Proposition 63 would make stealing a gun, including one valued at less than $950, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

State of the ballot measure campaigns
Yes on Prop 63 has outraised opponents six-to-one. As of October 21, 2016, supporters had received almost $4.8 million, while opposing committees had raised $741,826. The California Democratic Party, a supporter of Proposition 63, has contributed over $1 million to the campaign. The National Rifle Association is against the initiative and has contributed $95,000 to opponents. Polls indicate that around 68 percent of residents support Proposition 63.

Initiative design

Requirements to buy ammo
Proposition 63 would require individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a four-year permit from the California Department of Justice. Dealers would be required to check this permit before selling ammunition. The Department of Justice would be authorized to charge up to $50 for permits to support administrative and enforcement costs.[1]

California enacted legislation in July 2016 that, in addition to Proposition 63’s requirements, would mandate dealers to check with the Department of Justice to determine if the buyer is authorized to purchase.

Licenses to sell ammo
In July 2016, California enacted legislation to regulate the sale of ammunition. The legislation requires individuals and businesses to obtain a one-year license from the California Department of Justice to sell ammunition. Hunters selling 50 rounds or less of ammunition per month for hunting trips are not required to obtain a license

Proposition 63 would establish a misdemeanor penalty for failing to follow these dealer licensing requirements.

Large-capacity magazines
California banned large-capacity magazines for most individuals in 2000. Individuals who had large-capacity magazines before 2000 were allowed to keep the magazines. Proposition 63 would remove the ownership exemption for pre-2000 owners of large-capacity magazines. Individuals who do not comply with the measure would be charged with an infraction.

Court removal of firearms
Proposition 63 would enact a court process that attempts to ensure prohibited individuals do not continue to have firearms. Courts would be required to inform individuals prohibited from owning a firearm that they must turn their firearms over to local law enforcement, sell their firearms to a licensed dealer, or give their firearms to a dealer for storage. Probation officers would check and report on what prohibited individuals did with their firearms.

Out-of-state purchases
Starting in July 2019, the July 2016 legislation prohibits most California residents from purchasing ammunition outside the state and bringing it into the state without first having it delivered to a licensed dealer. Proposition 63 would move up the start date of this law to January 2018. It would also make bringing out-of-state ammunition into the state without first delivering it to a dealer an infraction.

Reporting theft
Dealers of ammunition would need to report a theft or loss within 48 hours. Individuals would need to report a theft or loss within five days to local law enforcement. Failure to report would be considered an infraction.

Penalty for theft
Proposition 47 of 2014 made stealing an item that is valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor. Therefore, stealing a gun valued at less than $950 is a misdemeanor.

Proposition 63 would make stealing a gun, including one valued at less than $950, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

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