Bullet sales are surging across California ahead of a new law that will mandate background checks on new ammunition purchases, dealers reported on Thursday.
Residents will have to show identification and undergo background checks to purchase ammunition in the state starting July 1. Proponents say its a formidable effort to screen out felons and illegal gun owners, but firearm sellers on both ends of the state say customers are confused about how the process might work.
Norris Sweidan, owner of Warrior One Guns and Ammo in Riverside, said store shelves would normally be fully stocked with ammo around this time of the year, but he’s nearly tapped out as the implementation approaches.
Sweidan, and other guns store owners throughout the state, said customers seem to be stocking up because they’re unsure of how the law, approved by voters in 2016, might affect them.
"I can tell you right now a lot of my customers are confused," Sweidan told ABC’s Los Angeles station KABC on Thursday. "It's going to be a total mess."
"I don't know how it's going to work. I don't know if you're going to wait one minute or 10 days for your ammo," he added.
Store operators received guidance from state officials earlier this month, detailing the equipment they’ll need to comply with the new requirements -- an internet connection, a computer and a magnetic card reader -- but Sweidan said the notice didn’t spell out exactly how the new process will work once the system goes live.
Richard Howell, General Manager of Old West Gun & Loan in Redding, said he’s also noticed a sudden uptick in ammo sales.
"Normally, somebody will come in and they're going out for a recreational day of shooting, and so they say they need a couple of boxes of .9 millimeter, a couple of boxes of .45 millimeter. We ring them up and they go out the door,” Howell told ABC affiliate KRCR. "But, they don't bring in lists on an eight-and-a-half by eleven sheet of paper full saying, 'I need this filled.'"
He said the law, which forces gun owners to buy ammo face-to-face from a licensed dealer verses online, could encourage people make ammo purchases out of state to get around any potential hassle and/or fees.
"If it's big purchases by those individuals, that could affect our business in a sense that they're not buying that ammunition from us," Howell said. "The law, like all firearms laws we have in California, haven't put us out of business yet, and it won't. Will it be a hindrance? Of course. Will people decide to buy ammo elsewhere? Of course they will."