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Sportsmen's and gun groups up in arms over passage of AB 962

October 13, 2009 | 12:52 pm

A Smith & Wesson .357 is shown with various caliber handgun ammunition.

*Updated to reflect that this law goes into effect on Feb 1, 2011 and not July, 2010

Sportsmen's and pro-gun groups are up in arms over a recent bill signed by Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that puts restrictions on the purchase of certain ammunition beginning Feb. 1, 2011.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation and the California Assn. of Firearms Retailers are highly critical of the decision to sign into law AB 962, which will require firearms dealers and ammunition vendors to keep a registry of all buyers of handgun ammo. The bill also bans all mail order and Internet sales of such ammunition and reloading components.

"The governor vetoed a piece of firearms legislation, SB 41, far less burdensome to retailers than AB 962, stating it was too cumbersome," Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general council, said in a news release. (SB 41 would have required additional paperwork and documentation on the date of delivery of all firearms to a buyer.)

NSSF has estimated that AB 962 will cost the state almost $3 million in lost sales tax, $629,000 in increased operating costs for state agencies and more than $35 million in lost retail sales annually.

"This legislation will drive many small, independent retailers already struggling in a poor economy out of business or force them to flee California," said CAFR President Marc Halcon.

"Those retailers who can afford to stay will be forced to substantially raise prices to law-abiding consumers who, under AB 962, will now be fingerprinted like common criminals simply for exercising their Second Amendment rights," continued Halcon. "It is silly, at best, to think criminals will stand in line to be fingerprinted to buy ammunition from licensed retailers."

"Gov. Schwarzenegger has just created an underground black market for ammunition," Halcon added.

Ammo sales, already at an increased level from gun enthusiasts, including hunters and target shooters fearing stricter gun laws, will likely now become more robust in the coming months.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A Smith & Wesson .357 is shown with various caliber handgun ammunition. Credit: Judi Bottoni / Associated Press

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