Gun store owners and hunters are bracing for the uncertainty of how Proposition 63 will be implemented and the impact it will have.
The proposition, which Californians approved in the Nov. 8 election, will require background checks for ammunition purchases and places a ban on high-capacity magazines.
"Trying to learn what we're going to have to do is a hassle," said Danielle Terry, manager of Shooter's Paradise. "The Department of Justice tells us to refer to the bill text to figure out what we're going to have to do."
Terry knows it will require more time for staff and customers of the Yuba City store and gun range to fill out the proper paperwork before any ammunition transactions.
"Before coming in to buy ammo, they'll have to apply with the Department of Justice for an ammo purchase permit and do a background check, which takes 30 days," said Terry. "It'll cost $50 and be good for a few years."
Harry Cheim, president of Union Guns and Gear, was equally uncertain about how he'll have to adjust his business to adhere to the law while still serving his customers.
"No one really knows what's happening," Cheim said. "As a business, all ammunition will have to be behind the counter for customers, which presents a huge hurdle, especially with shotgun shells and people who may be purchasing multiple cases."
Cheim, an avid hunter, said this isn't the way ammunition sales are done in other states.
"Even though you have to be 21 years old to buy beer, they don't put it under lock and key, and now they've done that with ammo," he said. "Not too much ammo gets stolen. I could see this being done with handgun ammo, but with shotgun ammo, it doesn't make much sense."
Terry said stores wanting to sell ammunition will have to become licensed ammunition vendors.
"Customers will have to use their permit and ID and fill out a form with all their info and the ammo info as well as a thumb print," she said. "We'll have to keep it on file for 20 years and may have to forward that info to DOJ occasionally."
Terry said all ammunition sales will have to be conducted face to face: no internet sales, no shipping ammunition through mail or purchasing in another state and bringing it back to California.
"It's getting harder and harder each year to sell guns and ammo," Terry said.
With the regulations, she wonders what the end goal is for the Department of Justice.
"The way I see it is, five to 10 years from now, when you go to a licensed ammo vendor, the store will scan your permit and they'll be able to see all the guns you own," she said.
She said there will likely be unintended consequences for gun clubs, sport shooting teams and other issues.
"What if you have an old gun in the family that you didn't have to register because it's not required by law but you need ammo for it? What about the skeet shooting teams? What about our range? Will we have to register rental ammo?" Terry asked.
She knows that it will take more time and cost more money for the business and for the customers.
"Firearm owners in general will be affected," Terry said. "It's not right. I don't see how they can do something like this."
Cheim said most people, and many gun owners, agree with the ban on high-capacity magazines.
"These are interesting times, and I don't know what they're trying to achieve," Cheim said. "I think they're creating more steps for the gun advocates."
He's hopeful provisions will be made for gun owners who repeatedly purchase large amounts of ammunition.
"For people that use ammo repeatedly — hunters, trap and target shooters — I think they'll have a certificate, which will make purchases easier," Cheim said.
CONTACT Chris Kaufman at 749-4794.