Experts expect California’s background checks for ammunition law to go to US Supreme Court

The battle over gun and ammunition regulation in California is escalating.

Gun violence prevention advocates say it’s saving lives, while gun rights supporters argue it’s regulation overkill. 

Experts expect the case that is challenging state law requiring background checks for purchasing ammunition to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. For Bradley Stolfi, he supports common sense gun regulation. 

“I think every firearm should require a background check and it should be thorough,” said Stolfi. 

But a state law implemented in 2019 requiring in-person background checks for ammunition isn’t one of them. 

“If you ask me if it was something that made shooting difficult, yes it was,” said Stolfi.  

Stolfi is using a World War 2 era M-1 carbine for target practice.  

“The imposition of needing a background check, and vendors not wanting to send ammunition to California, it became problematic for me to find this ammunition for this rifle with ease,” said Stolfi.  

The Cloverdale resident has been buying gun powder and primers to hand load cartridges for many of his rifles since the tighter ammo restrictions were put in place. 

“That incurred a substantial cost in all the materials I needed to do it,” said Stolfi. 

Many hunters and gun owners say the restrictions violate their 2nd amendment right to bear arms. A federal judge recently agreed, overturning the law. 

But days later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-to-1 vote put a hold on that ruling. 

“We have seen a California that is a far safer place today than it was 30 years ago. Background checks work for firearms. Background checks work for ammunition,” said Steve Lindley. 

Lindley has a law enforcement background, and now works for Brady United Against Gun Violence.

“We’re not trying to prevent anybody from purchasing a firearm or purchasing ammunition. What we’re trying to do is keeping firearms and ammunition out of the hands of people who are prohibited or are a danger to our communities,” said Lindley. 

“There’s a small number of people out there that shouldn’t have access to ammunition, and that’s more of a problem than is being addressed by just making it more difficult to get the ammunition,” said Stolfi. 

The stay issued by the Court of Appeals means background checks for ammunition can once again proceed for now.

“Background checks, safe storage, those type of things all compounded together, make a significant difference,” said Lindley. 

But Stolfi believes rather than making it more difficult to purchase ammunition, banning high-capacity magazines, would have more of an impact in saving lives. 

“I don’t see any need for any magazine to be able to hold more than 10. That’s going to get me in a lot of trouble with guys I know, but that’s what I think,” said Stolfi. 

Stolfi is aiming to find that balance between restrictions and gun rights enshrined in the Constitution. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, posted on X saying the ruling by the court of appeals means the state’s “life-saving ammunition laws will remain in effect as we continue to defend them in court.”

It’s unclear when the case will be heard. 

However the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules, legal experts say the case will likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court. 

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