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Judge Rules California Ban On Some Handgun Ammunition Unconstitutional

FRESNO (KCBS) – A judge in Fresno has ruled that California’s new ban on certain sales of handgun ammunition cannot take effect as planned next month.

The law bans sales of handgun ammunition that aren’t conducted in person, face-to-face, and makes it illegal for felons and gang members to buy ammo.

It’s patterned after a city law in Sacramento, which Sacramento Police Chief Rick Brazil said is working well.

“It’s kind of a prevention piece for us in trying to prevent violence before it occurs,” he said.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

But a Fresno judge said its definitions of handgun and ammunition are unconstitutionally vague. Chuck Michel, attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Association, said the judge is right to block it.

“As a former prosecutor, I’ve certainly sympathized with victims of gun violence,” Michel said. “This law would not have done anything to protect us from violent criminals.”

The bill’s author said its definitions have been used in California for 30 years and plans to appeal the ruling.

Loyola Law professor Laurie Levinson said gun rights advocates are determined to resist any legislation in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting.

“What we see here is a line in the sand. The idea that if there are any types of additional controls, that that might lead to a broader type of gun control and that’s not what they want,” she said.

Shooting suspect Jared Loughner legally purchased ammunition the morning he allegedly opened fire outside a Tucson Safeway.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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  • Brian

    Ironic that the picture that goes along with this article displays commonly used rifle ammunition. But of course the authors of this article, any law enforcement officer, and most any ordinary citizen would not be able to distinguish the difference between handgun and rifle ammunition, which is why this unconstitutional law was overturned. Many other cities in California have had similar laws on their books requiring fingerprinting and personal information prior to ammunition purchases. These requirements have done nothing to provide law enforcement an edge in fighting criminal wrongdoers. The federal government even repealed a similar law at the federal level by enacting the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. There are already laws against felons purchasing handgun ammo at the Federal and State level before AB962 was enacted. Rather than enforce these laws, more laws such as AB962 were passed or attempted to be passed in CA only to hinder law-abiding citizens purchasing ammunition for legal purposes.

    • John

      This really does sum up the media on guns – totally clueless. Oh and those are not ‘bullets’ – they are cartridges or rounds, the bullet is just the part that comes out of the barrel. But then if KCBS had bothered to check wikipedia they’d know that.

  • HUCK

    This column reports that the law “makes it illegal for felons and gang members to buy ammo”. It’s already illegal for felons to buy ammo and you can’t really tell if a person is a gang member or not. The law actually says nothing about that. What a poor piece of reporting this is.

  • Chris

    I am trying to contact KCBS to inquire about this article, but their ‘Contact Us’ ilnk does not show up. My guess is they really don’t want to hear from the public as getting to the truth of the matter is just too inconvenient for journalists these days. I am shocked that they were so lazy, and lacking journalistic integrity, that they failed to even attempt to understand the topic before regurgitating the rantings of the Sac. CoP.

    I’d like to have someone explain the logic that makes them think having to show an ID, and leave a fingerprint in a book (that then goes nowhere), when buying ammunition is going to keep ammunition from anyone’s hands and will somehow do anything other than inconvenience law abiding citizens looking to exercise their second amendment rights. It’s not lilke they can take the print confirm the person is prohibited from owning firearms. Also ammunition is not a firearm so they have a disconnect there too.

    This is apparently another attempt to criminalize lawful behavior by law abiding citizens and to incrementally inconvenience, and therefore incrementally infringe, a constitutional right. If Law Enforcement in CA spent more time going after criminals, instead of criminalizing law abiding citizens, our streets might actually become MORE safe.

    Of course leave to it to


    “Shooting suspect Jared Loughner legally purchased ammunition the morning he allegedly opened fire outside a Tucson Safeway.”


    Isn’t that stretching the connection to Tucson just a bit far? AB962 law would not have helped prevent or even deter the tragedy that occurred in Tucson.

    Given previous laws already prohibiting what this bill purports to prohibit, all this law really did was attempt to prevent mail order sales of any and all ammunition to California residents by intimidating retailers with vague and poorly written law for which they are responsible to comply with. Anyone who believes for a second this was about gang-members doesn’t understand how politics works.

  • Doc

    I am appalled by the california handgun law. I mean this is America right. How can a bunch of paranoid selfish lawmakers make silly laws like this. A desparate person can obtain some(less than 50) ammo somehow. This law will not stop the criminals. Only inconviniance law abideing citizens.

  • chris

    really they know the amount of guns, ammo, and drugs that make it across the border is going to make ammo and guns available to any gang i mean they cant even stop people from crossing the border its obvious that the Mexican cartel that are growing weed every where did not buy their guns from CA which proves that any criminal can get illegal guns and ammo at any time they want.

  • james

    Nice picture of the rifle ammunition on this page. I though the law was about handgun ammo. Not Rifle ammo. At least have the common decency to show us the damn handgun ammo. Stop trying to influence our decisions. You are the media. NOT the Propagandist!!!!!!!! We are waking up to your slick ways and are not buying into your demented propaganda anymore!!


    You can’t fix stupid and the ignorance of the sheeple that believe the lamestream media are just that so we need to buy back the media or bankrupt them. SO CANCEL YOUR DISH AND DIRECT SUBS AND GO TO OFF THE AIR.

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