In the aftermath of the various gun related tragedies in places like Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and Orlando, Proposition 63 has the potential to dramatically change California’s gun and ammunition laws.
Proposition 63 is titled “Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute.” It focuses on the sale and acquisition of firearms.
The description summary from the California Secretary of State website states that the proposition will require individuals purchasing ammunition to pass a background check with the Department of Justice. It will also prohibit the possession and the disposal of large capacity magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds as well as require most ammunition sales to be done through professional vendors and reported to the California Department of Justice.
The proposed change to the background check requirement seeks to fill the cracks in the system that allow people to bypass the Department of Justice, who under the current law only requires a background check for individuals who are purchasing a firearm.
The proposition does not only affect ammunition sales. If it passes, then further restrictions will be added to firearm ownership, directly impacting access to guns.
“The idea is that if you reduce the availability of firearms, and particularly firearms that are in a secondary market, there will be less gun violence,” said Jay Wachtel, CSUF professor and former Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent.
The proposition also prohibits those convicted of stealing firearms from having the ability to possess firearms. Those prohibited individuals must be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by the California Department of Justice and requires the lost or stolen firearms to be immediately reported to law enforcement.
“The underlying problem is that guns that fall into the hands of criminals, or even ammunition, are generally purchased by people who can still be able to legally purchase firearms and ammunition,” Wachtel said.
Questions arise on whether the proposition is a step in the right direction to protect Americans or if it is an attack on a citizen’s rights.
“One step that I think a lot of folks may have heartburn over is the making of the large capacity magazines completely illegal. There are a lot of firearm enthusiasts who like the larger capacity magazines,” Wachtel said.
Proposition 63 is formed from the legislation titled the “Safety For All Act of 2016,” which was proposed by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. “Prop. 63 is California voters’ chance to save lives and stand up to the NRA,” according to the Safety For All website.
On the opposing side, some view the proposition as more of a danger than a legislative rescue.
“(Prop. 63) threatens to criminalize law-abiding Californians and restrict their ability to protect themselves and their families,” according to the Coalition for Civil Liberties website, a group formed together in opposition to Proposition 63.
From 2002 to 2013, 38,576 people in the state of California have died from the result of gun violence, according to the Safety For All webite.
The ballot proposition addresses the rate of crime and deaths due to firearms.
“If high-capacity firearms pose a distinct threat to the safety and wellbeing of law enforcement officers–the odds become even more ominous for civilians,” said CSUF professor Robert Castro via email.
If the proposition is passed, there will be an increase cost in state courts, local courts and law enforcement. Some other new costs would be a $50 certificate to purchase firearms.
Increased costs to purchase and wait for ammunition offers a potential way to make the process of acquiring ammo less appealing.
“Prop. 63 will prove controversial to many people but requiring accountability in the acquisition, conveyance and modification of firearms (even if it’s limiting high capacity weapons) is important,” Castro said via email.