California Dreaming Marks Nightmare for Hunting, Conservation

California Dreaming Marks Nightmare for Hunting, Conservation

Not having what you need before going hunting or shooting is a serious cause for anxiety and frustration. Have you ever stormed through the house looking for something important like a knife, license, a piece of clothing? You work through the seven stages of grief and grumble about the kids getting into your gear...again.   

As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action notes, hunters and shooters in California have continued to suffer under the state government for many years, and the recent legislation is a real “gotcha” moment for those in favor of heavy firearm and ammunition control. The ammunition background check bill signed in 2016 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown went live on July 1 of this year. The bill requires an in-store background check on any ammunition purchases and forbids California residents from purchasing ammunition in other states. Essentially anyone who hasn’t already registered a gun is now going to be entered into the system when they buy ammunition. 

As this law went into effect, everything went flawlessly and without a hitch—345,547 ammunition background checks were performed between July 1 and November. Nearly one in every five ammunition purchases was rejected by the California Department of Justice.

Nearly one in every five ammunition purchases was rejected by the California Department of Justice.Wow, over 62,000 purchases were rejected. The law intended...and stopped an army. I’ll give it to you Jerry, great foresight on this matter. 

It’s a thinly veiled victory for gun-control advocates as only 101 people were previously forbidden to buy ammunition or own a gun in the state. Everyone else was made up of law-abiding hunters, shooters and even law enforcement or military members.

So what happened?

The nightmare of a clerical issue reared its ugly head as people’s personal information didn’t match what state officials had in their database for a litany of reasons. Typically the issues stemmed from either having moved or not having had registered guns in California.  

According to an article published by the Sacramento Bee, “The DOJ [Department of Justice] says court filing says more than 19,000 ammunition buyers weren’t in the database at all, so they were denied when they went to buy ammo. More than 22,000 were rejected because of address mismatches, many of them due to having moved since they last bought a gun. Nearly 8,000 people had names in the state’s gun registry that didn’t match their identification, according to the Department of Justice filing.”

At the surface, this is a clerical debacle of mammoth proportions. Underneath the surface, the consequences run far deeper and carry implications threatening the hunting culture and way of life. Erica Rhoad, the NRA-ILA director of hunting policy, provided perspective on the impact on hunters. “First the lead ammunition ban limited options for hunters enough. Now to have a full in-store background check, the state of California has created yet a new barrier for hunters to overcome.”

At the surface, this is a clerical debacle of mammoth proportions. Underneath the surface, the consequences run far deeper and carry implications threatening the hunting culture and way of life.Rhoad also provided the financial perspective. “There will be less money for wildlife conservation and that impacts jobs.” It is a direct and emotionless fact that will directly hurt conservation and California. It could become problematic at an even larger scale should other states follow suit. 

For those who are unaware, the Pittman-Robertson Act, or Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, sets an 11 percent excise tax on ammunition purchases. Think about this microcosm of a scenario and how large of an impact it will have financially. Over a short five-month period, for example, 62,000 purchases valued at who knows how much are not contributing to the conservation fund. I’d love to know if the anti-gun extremists who are happy about the new control understand the implications this has on the environment.

The frustration among hunters is there seems to be little that can be done since the powers that be don’t care. Planning ahead, well ahead, is the best solution to avoid frustrations the night before your hunt. As a law-abiding gun-owning community, we must stay vigilant to fight the influx of anti-gun, anti-hunting legislation. A gun-control measure such as this creates barriers to experiencing diverse outdoor activities, hurts jobs and harms the environment.  

Editor’s Note: On June 26, the NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association hosted a free live webinar to discuss all of the upcoming ammunition background check requirements that were set to take effect July 1. Hunters who missed the webinar can click here to review the archived copy.—Karen Mehall Phillips

About the Author: Jason Reid is an entrepreneur and writer from Upstate New York with a nomadic spirit. He has been a contributing freelance writer for more than a dozen publications and websites and has served on the board of directors for the Professional Outdoor Media Association for the past two years while helping companies grow across multiple industries. Jason has a passion for backcountry hunting, whitetails and gun dogs and for sharing the gospel of hunting with the next generation. Learning about hunting and wildlife conservation at an early age, one of his claims to fame is that he was featured in the centerfold of Field and Stream at age 14 alongside his brothers in an article promoting the youth hunting project known a “Young Bloods.”

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