PROP 63: Ammo Sales & Background Checks

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Updated at 2:30 PM on Nov. 9, 2016


Prop 63 has passed by a margin of 62.6% yes to 37.4% no. It toughens the restrictions on buying ammunition and adds requirements for background checks.


What would Prop 63 do?

  • It would outlaw large-capacity magazines. Magazines are the devices that hold the bullets that feed into automatic weapons. A magazine typically holds 30 rounds (bullets). Prop 63 says you could neither buy them nor own them.
  • It would require instant background checks and authorization for anyone who wants to buy ammunition in California – any kind of ammunition, bullets or magazines.
  • It would require most ammunition to be sold by licensed gun stores and reported to the Department of Justice.
  • It would require gun stores to report lost or stolen guns or ammo to law enforcement.
  • A person who has been convicted of stealing a gun would not be allowed to possess a gun.

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Now get this. A lot of Prop 63 is already the law. How did that happen?

Because this summer after the San Bernardino and Orlando night club shootings, the California legislature passed a package of tougher gun and ammo laws and Governor Brown signed most of them into law. But a lot of what’s in the new laws is also in Prop 63, and Prop 63 had already qualified for the ballot. Now it’s too late to take it off.

What are the main arguments for Prop 63?

Supporters say:

  • America has experienced the trauma of too many mass shootings from Dallas and Orlando to San Bernardino and Charleston. Many of these shooter use automatic weapons.
  • More than 80 Americans are shot and killed every day
  • Prop 63 closes a loophole to prevent dangerous criminals, domestic abusers and the mentally ill from getting and using deadly weapons.
  • The NRA has obstructed efforts on the Federal level. But in California we can pass our own stricter gun and ammo laws.
  • Prop 63 would still protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-defense, hunting and recreation. 

What are the main arguments against it?

Opponents say:

  • Prop 63 would put an additional burden law-abiding gun owners and a further erosion of American’s 2nd amendment rights.
  • It would not keep violent criminals and terrorist from accessing firearms and ammo.
  • It would waste public resources by diverting resources away from law enforcement and burden an already overcrowded court system. By siphoning resources away from law enforcement Prop 63 would not make anyone safer.
  • It would be difficult for the legislature to amend the law and lock in flaws Prop 63’s details.

Who is for Prop 63?

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is the main proponent of Prop 63. Even though he realizes that a lot of Prop 63 is already the law, he still wants voters to approve it. Why?  He says it will be more “permanent”? How’s that? That’s because when voters approve a measure it can only be changed by the voters, or by a 2/3’s vote of the legislature. In other words, it’s tough to change. It’s more “permanent.”

Others supporting Prop 63 are anti-gun groups, the California Democratic Party, Women Against Gun Violence, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein as well as some physicians groups and religious groups.

Who is against Prop 63?

Prop 63 is strongly opposed by many gun rights group including the NRA, California Rifle and Pistol Association and Gun Owners of California. Also against the measure are California prison guard association and an association of veteran San Francisco police officers.

Would Prop 63 cost anything?

The state fiscal analyst says it would cost in the “tens of millions” to enforce portions of Prop 63 in the courts, mainly to remove firearms from ex-cons who are not supposed to have them. As far as the ammo sales background checks go, the costs would likely be offset by revenues from fees. 

To sum up:

A YES” vote means you’re in favor of tougher ammo laws and background checks.

A NO vote means you’re against them.

But remember, since much of Prop 63 is already the law, whether it passes or fails won’t make a huge difference.


Click here for a cheat sheet on all the California ballot propositions.

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