California Ammunition Licensing Requirements

In a few conversations over the past month, I was very surprised how many California gun owners are unaware of the new ammunition restrictions which are now state law. The new laws are already “on the books” but do not take effect until 01 January 2018.

Californians: please wake up and realize that you will soon need a background check and a license to buy a few rounds of .22 for plinking.

Starting 01 January 2018:
  • Stores in California must have Department of Justice (DOJ) approval to sell ammo – Current retailers with an ammo supply may stop providing ammunition altogether due to the process of getting DOJ consent. For hunters and shooters in rural areas who rely on mom-and-pop sporting goods stores, they may need to seek out a new supplier as well as plan on driving a lot farther to find the ammunition of their choice.
  • Californians must go to an ammunition vendor that has been approved by the DOJ. If a resident orders ammunition from a website, the ammo in question must be sent to an approved vendor for the consumer to pick up. Purchasing ammunition out of state and then returning to California makes you a criminal, guilty of transporting ammo across state lines.
  • To transfer or give ammunition to another, you will need to use a DOJ-approved vendor to complete the transaction, same way you would transfer a firearm to a new owner.
Starting 01 July 2019:
  • California residents will need to have a background check prior to purchasing ammunition and pay a processing fee; just like buying a firearm from an FFL.


I believe these new restrictions will make more people criminals and cause heavy financial loss for smaller gun stores who rely on ammunition sales. When a resident has to pay $50 for a background check to buy a box of ammunition in state, he or she may look to cross state lines.