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Judge rules against new state ammunition rules

January 18, 2011 |  7:31 pm

Californians who buy handgun ammunition will not have to supply their thumbprint, photo ID and other information starting Feb. 1 after a judge in Fresno ruled Tuesday that a new state law mandating the information is unconstitutionally vague.

The law, signed in 2009 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was meant to give law enforcement officers a better opportunity to track criminals buying ammunition.

But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton issued a summary judgment against the law, which also required ammo buyers to provide their birth date and address, and issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing it Feb. 1. The law also would have prevented mail-order sales of handgun ammunition.

The judge sided Tuesday with former Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker, who filed a lawsuit arguing that the law was not clear.

"I’m pleased," Parker said. "My whole concern was: What is the definition of handgun ammunition? There is a lot of ammunition that goes both in handguns and long-guns."

Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), who wrote AB 962, is considering his legal and legislative options, including a possible appeal, said Dan Reeves, his chief of staff.

"The code section defining handgun ammo is very similar to the federal definition and has been on the books for 30 years," Reeves said in an e-mail. "Today a judge ruled in a summary judgment it was unconstitutionally vague."

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-- Patrick McGreevy

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