CRPA Webinar outlines new rules for ammo purchases

June 27, 2019


Matthew Hoy

The California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) spent more than 90 minutes yesterday outlining the new rules for ammo purchases in California beginning July 1. For those of you who missed it and want to listen to the entire presentation (minus the Q&A), you can watch the replay here.

The CRPA has helpfully created a flow-chart to help Californians figure out how to go about purchasing ammunition.

A few highlights to note from the presentation.

  • Of the three possible ammunition background check methods above, it is up to the ammo purchaser to select the one they go through.
    • If you have a COE, then that is probably the preferred method.
    • If not, and you've purchased a firearm at your current address, then you probably want to select the "AFS Match" option. Note that an AFS match requires an exact match between your address in the CFARS system and that on your driver's license. If one has "Street" spelled out and the other has it abbreviated as "St." then the system will reject the request.
    • The final method, a full-scale background check, has the most questions attached. It's unclear how long that will take, and it also costs the most.
  • The California DOJ should have an AFS record if you purchased a handgun in the state after Jan. 1, 1990, or a long gun after Jan. 1, 2014.
  • If you're facing the latter option to purchase ammo, your best bet may be to buy a new firearm at the same time you're buying your ammunition. The California DOJ will accept a positive background check for a firearm as an OK on the ammo purchase as well. This way you're not required to pay an additional $19 just for the ammo background check.
  • If you're unsure whether the DOJ has your current address associated with an AFS record (or worried if there's a discrepancy between your address as it exists on your driver's license versus the state's database, then you can request your firearms records from the states by filling out Form BOF 053, which can be found here. California does not charge anything for this service, but the form does have to be notarized before being submitted.
  • If you choose the "Basic Ammunition Eligibility Check" aka the full background check, the DOJ will notify you why you failed via U.S. Mail. This further suggests that this background check type is likely to take days, rather than minutes or hours.

About those RealID Driver's Licenses

Contrary to what Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference earlier this week, RealID driver's licenses are not required for ammunition purchases starting July 1.

Only newer drivers licenses that have "Federal Limits Apply" in the upper-right corner require additional evidence of legal presence in the United States. Acceptable proof includes:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card
  • Certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate
  • U.S. Certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen
  • Valid, unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. immigrant visa and approved I-94 form
  • Certified copy of birth certificate from a U.S. Territory
  • Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card

Note that if your name has changed for whatever reason (e.g. marriage) and is different than your birth certificate, you'll also need to submit a marriage license or other official document recognizing the name change.

Existing licenses or state ID cards that do not have the "Federal Limits Apply" wording on them are sufficient for ammunition purchases.

Wackiness of California Gun/Ammo Laws

These latest ammunition background check laws also create some weird side-effects that it seems legislators seldom foresee. The situation is no different here.

Beginning July 1, non-California residents cannot buy ammunition in California. If they were previously a California resident and bought a gun while they were here, they will still fail the AFS check because the address on that record will not match their new, out-of-state address.

Likewise, the full background check option isn't available to non-California residents, because that requires a California ID.

The only option for out-of-state ammo purchasers is to get a California Certificate of Eligibility. A COE requires a $49 fingerprint processing fee, $22 application processing fee and whatever it costs the individual to get their fingerprints rolled in the state where they reside. The COE is good for only a year and costs $22 a year to renew.

It is unclear how many (but we suspect the number is nearly zero) out-of-state residents will take advantage of that last option.

Wackiness of California Gun/Ammo Laws (Part 2)

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, it was made illegal for most Californians to purchase ammo out of state and bring it back into California (the most notable exception is for residents with an 03 FFL and a COE). For the typical Californian it's illegal to bring in more than 50 rounds of ammunition (purchased outside of California) into the state.

[Editor's note: As Calguns member Eureka1911 notes, you can bring back into California any amount of ammunition you purchased in California, but transported out of state temporarily for whatever reason, hunting, etc.]

However, if you're not a Californian, you can bring in as much ammunition as you want—you just can't transfer it to a Californian without going through the background check process at an ammunition vendor.

So, out-of-staters coming into California to target shoot or hunt, make sure to bring your ammunition with you.

Restricted Arms on Local Radio

If you've got other questions or want to talk about firearms, I'll be on Dave Congalton's Hometown Radio Show for an hour, starting at 6 p.m. PDT, today, June 27, 2019. You can listen live here.

UPDATE! You can listen to the audio by clicking in the player below.

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