California lawmaker proposes permit for ammunition purchases
California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but a legislative leader proposed Tuesday that the state go further and also adopt tough new rules covering the sale of ammunition.
State Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, proposed that anyone wanting to buy any kind of ammunition in California would be required to get an annual permit from the state Department of Justice, which will fingerprint and conduct a background check on the applicants. The measure, requiring a permit fee of up to $50, would be aimed at prohibiting felons and those with mental illness from buying bullets.
The measure also would make moot a lawsuit by the National Rifle Assn. and the California Rifle and Pistol Assn. Foundation that has stalled enforcement of a 2009 De Leon-authored law requiring buyers of "handgun ammunition'' to provide a fingerprint at gun stores at the time of purchase.
De Leon, appearing at a news conference at the state Capitol, dedicated the proposed new legislation to the 20 children and six adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week.
"For too long, too much ground has been ceded in this debate about reasonable gun and ammunition control," he said. "In honor of these victims and the thousands who preceded them, we must not capitulate any longer. I, for one, have had it."
C.D. Michel, an attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Assn. Foundation said the new proposal appears to have constitutional problems.
"It smacks of infringements," Michel said. "You can't tax the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right." Michel said he was devastated by the shootings in Connecticut, but that De Leon's proposal would not prevent criminals and the mentally ill who want to commit crimes from getting ammunition. He also questioned the timing of the news conference, less than a week after the shooting.
"It's cynically opportunistic and pathetic to be advancing these kinds of legislative agendas so soon," Michel said.ALSO:
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: State Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press