Ammunition in 2018Steven Lieberman
AMMO in 2018
So the hatchet has almost been buried into the head of 2017.
2018 is around the corner, and with it new challenges, new opportunities, and courtesy of our masters in Sacramento, new laws and regulations that are surely to make us all safer.
Chief among them, and first to affect you, is our new ammunition law. Proposition 63 proposed an alteration to the California Penal Code via SB-1235.
Essentially it states that all ammunition transfers must be conducted between a customer and a licensed vendor…. and the transaction must take place “face to face”. This means that you can no longer buy ammunition from an online vendor and have it shipped directly to you. You can still buy from that favorite online source, but it now must be shipped directly to an ammunition vendor, where they will charge you, whatever they feel is reasonable, to intake the ammo, catalog it, and store it until you arrive. Once you do arrive, they can only statutorily charge $10 for the physical transfer to you.
Now, candidly, I’m not sure that it will be commercially reasonable to buy from an online source anymore. The reality is that there is not a store on the planet that would buy a product, tie up their capital in inventory and shelf space, then allow you to bypass them and buy a product online, ship to them and have that product end up competing with their existing inventory. If a Winchester White Box costs $25 at your local gun store, but you find it online for $10 with free shipping…. expect that by the time you walk out of the store it will have ultimately cost you $30.
If you still covet that wildcat specialty blend ammo from Uncle Charlie’s Powder and Lead in Wichita, Kansas… you can still get it… but that is going to be a unique purchase, and limited to specific specialty shooters.
What is really interesting about the implementation of the law is what actually ends up taking place on January 1, 2018.
We get to look at you.
Yep… that is essentially it. Somehow making eye contact with the purchaser… (and costing him more money and inconvenience)… will usher in the social utopia we have all been waiting for.
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Perhaps the most interesting aspect of SB-1235 is the operational aspect for us as ammunition vendors. Come January 1, it seems we have been legislatively instructed to ensure two objectives: 1) that the individuals walking out of the building with their ammo are human beings… (this is to ensure that anthropomorphic robots from the future, or genetically modified hominids do not gain access to ammunition), and 2) that individuals have a driver’s license or California ID card? Maybe?
There is no law that says that the purchaser must have any form of ID, nor is there anything that states that the individual be a resident of California. We can infer from future requirements that there must be some sort of identification requirement. We know that on July 1, 2019 we are going to have to input information about the purchasers into a database search prior to releasing ammo to determine if they are a prohibited person, but on January 1, 2018 that requirement is not in effect.
What concerns me the most is not so much the January 1 requirement. That is stupid, inconvenient, and does nothing more than make ammunition more expensive and difficult to acquire.
The July 1, 2019 is the one that truly gives me pause.
The issue that concerns me has to do with probable cause.
We have a legal case right now that involves a law enforcement officer using the fact that a pedestrian approached a vehicle as effective probable cause for a drug transaction taking place. The sad part of this case is that there were legitimate motor vehicle code violations that could have been used to establish probable cause for a stop… but the officer, instead, chose to use what arguably is a Constitutionally protected activity as a justification for a car stop.
The question is, if a court would be willing to accept legitimate probable cause for a citizen walking up to a vehicle… would the court also be willing to accept an ammunition sale, where the purchaser does not have a registered weapon of the same caliber, as sufficient probable cause for a search warrant to be issued? I think the answer is yes. Consider the following hypothetical scenario:
D has an unregistered firearm. It was legally acquired, but not registered with the State. He decides he wants to take said firearm out to the desert to go shoot pumpkins and propane cans. He goes to the gun store after July 1, 2019 to buy a thousand rounds of ammo for said gun.
The State does a cross reference during the background check and sees that D does not own a firearm with that caliber. They deny the sale, and then take that information to a judge. They argue in front of the judge that the attempt to purchase ammunition could very well have been an attempt to buy ammo for the sale to an individual who is prohibited from buying ammo (a straw purchase, if you will).
The judge agrees and issues a search warrant, which now subjects D to the indignity and potential harassment of a search of his premises by police, all because he was attempting to legally purchase ammunition pursuant to California’s ammunition control procedures.
This type of society has a name… it is called despotic.
To quote the more eloquent C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”