“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
~ John Adams
By Alden Benton
Proposition 63 asks voters to change some of the regulations governing firearms and ammunition sales, and ownership of large-capacity magazines.
Under current California and federal law, people convicted of felonies, the mentally ill found to be a danger to themselves or others, and anyone with a restraining order against them, cannot own a firearm. These individuals are prohibited persons.
In California, if you cannot own a gun, you also cannot have ammunition. California also requires removing firearms from those prohibited from owning them.
Federal and state laws further regulate the sale of firearms. Firearms dealers are required to do a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before selling a firearm.
California law also limits the types of firearms that an individual can buy, requires a 10-day waiting period before delivering the firearm to the buyer, as well as specific requirements for recording and reporting firearms sales.
This year, the state legislature enacted legislation to regulate ammunition sales in California. This legislation includes the following provisions:
- Beginning January 2018, individuals, and businesses, must obtain a one-year license from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sell ammunition.
- To obtain a license, ammunition dealers will need to demonstrate that they are not prohibited persons.
- Firearms dealers licensed by both the state and federal governments and firearm wholesalers will receive a California license automatically,
- Requires that most ammunition sales, including out-of-state and internet sales, take place through a licensed ammunition dealer,
- Beginning July 2019, most Californians cannot bring ammunition into the state without first having it delivered to a licensed ammunition dealer.
California has also passed legislation to limit ownership of large-capacity magazines and created a penalty for filing a false report of a lost or stolen firearm.
Proposition 63 changes the way the state regulates ammunition sales, and creates a new court process to ensure the removal of firearms from prohibited persons. Prohibited individuals must:
- Turn over their firearms to local law enforcement,
- Sell the firearms to a licensed firearm dealer, or
- Give the firearms to a licensed firearm dealer for storage.
This measure also requires courts to assign probation officers to report on what offenders have done with their firearms.
Proposition 63 requires individuals to obtain a four-year permit from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to buy ammunition. It requires ammunition dealers to check with DOJ to ensure individuals buying ammunition have a permit.
This proposition also requires the DOJ to revoke permits of individuals prohibited from owning guns/ammunition. In addition, Proposition 63 allows the DOJ to charge up to $50 for a four-year permit.
Proposition 63 requires ammunition dealers report the loss or theft of ammunition within 48 hours and individuals to report the loss or theft of firearms within 5 days.
Since 2000, California has banned ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The law allows an exception if the magazine was purchased before 2000.
Beginning in July 2017, current law prohibits owning a large-capacity magazine but does allow limited exemptions. Proposition 63 eliminates many of these exemptions and increases the penalty for possessing a large-capacity magazine.
The current penalty for theft of a firearm worth less than $950 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in a county jail. Proposition 63 makes this crime a felony with a penalty of up to three years in state prison.
Proposition 63 would prohibit individuals previously convicted of misdemeanor firearms theft from owning a firearm for 10 years. Current law does not contain this provision.
There are a number of fiscal effects of Proposition 63.
According to the California Legislative Analyst, increased court and law enforcement costs could increase by more than $10 million dollars per year.
This measure increases state regulatory costs. However, fees imposed by this measure could offset the regulatory costs.
Finally, Proposition 63 creates a net increase in correctional costs that, according to the California Legislative Analyst would, “likely not exceed the low millions of dollars annually.”
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