California has multiple safeguards in place for the sale and purchase of guns, so why is it so easy to buy bullets the very thing that makes a gun deadly?
For the past decade, about 3,000 Californians have died each year from gunshots, and about that many are hospitalized each and every year from gunshot wounds.
Yet, today there are more restrictions in place to buy alcohol, cigarettes or certain cold medicines than there are to buy bullets.
The few controls California does have in place — for example, restrictions that make it illegal for people with certain criminal or mental health records to buy bullets — are difficult to enforce because ammunition sellers don’t have to check IDs or keep records.
With support from law enforcement, city, school, youth and faith leaders, I introduced legislation that would put into place some of the same procedures on the sale and purchase of bullets that we now have on gun sales.
My bill, AB 48, will help bulletproof our communities by requiring sellers of ammunition to be licensed, to check the ID of ammunition purchasers and to keep a record of bullet sales.
Those records would then be incorporated into the Department of Justice’s existing gun sales database. Maintaining a database on ammunition sales will help enforce existing law and enable local law enforcement to be notified if someone purchases a very large quantity of ammunition over a short time period.
AB 48 would also ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition clip kits that are used to convert a gun into an assault-style weapon that can shoot many bullets quickly without having to be reloaded.
With new safeguards in place, we may avert devastating tragedies and reduce the gun violence ravaging our communities.
California legislators have demonstrated their interest in regulating ammunition, having passed two recent bills by Sen. Kevin DeLeón (D-Los Angeles). But controls like these are always a struggle. Support from throughout the state will be necessary to withstand any push back.
I applaud President Obama for demonstrating national leadership and presenting a comprehensive plan aimed at reducing the gun violence and, hopefully, lessening the rash of mass shootings that have become an all-too-common occurrence.
Federal action like President Obama has proposed is needed to ensure that existing state efforts are effective. California and a number of other states have tough gun laws, but our ability to address gun violence is undermined when one can bypass California’s rules just by crossing state lines.
As public opinion shows, there is strong national support for gun controls and for enforcement that can begin to reverse the gun violence devastating our communities.