Judge strikes down California’s background check for ammunition law

Californians no longer have to go through a background check each time they want to purchase bullets.

A federal judge has ruled that California residents don’t have to undergo a background check every time they purchase bullets.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez took effect immediately.


The big picture: California has a law that requires individuals to pass a background check – costing $1 or $19, depending on eligibility – before purchasing ammunition. 

  • Benitez ruled that this law violates the Second Amendment because it restricts people from buying bullets for self-defense.
  • Benitez criticized California’s automated background check system, stating that it rejected around 11% of applicants in the first half of 2023.
  • Bonta is concerned that the ruling puts public safety at risk as it allows prohibited individuals, such as convicted felons and those with mental illnesses, to purchase ammunition.

What they’re saying: “How many of the 58,087 needed ammunition to defend themselves against an impending criminal threat and how many were simply preparing for a sporting event, we will never know,” Benitez wrote. “What is known is that in almost all cases, the 322 individuals that are rejected each day are being denied permission to freely exercise their Second Amendment right – a right which our Founders instructed shall not be infringed.”

  • Bonta said, “We will not stop in our efforts to protect the safety of communities and Californians’ rights to go about their business without fear of becoming victims of gun violence, while at the same time respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.” 
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