US judge uplifts background check law for ammunition in California

  • Buyer's ID card information did not match with database in California Gun Registry

  • Benitez suggested to create different database of 'prohibited people' and hand it to retail stores

A federal judge in California blocked a law that required people to go through background checks before purchasing ammunition on Thursday. The background check program had database glitches and record-keeping problems that affected many buyers from purchasing the ammunition.

The law was executed to prohibit or detect California residents through undergoing background check to see if they come under law-abiding gun owners. This was an experimental law that misfired and citizens were greatly affected, said Benitez of the Southern District of California in San Diego in his opinion post. He is the same judge who uplifted ban on high capacity magazines a year ago.

Background check law was passed in 2016 under the legislation by then-Governor Jerry Brown. It said Californians were required to pass in-store background check to buy ammunitions after July onwards. This was a separate ammunition measure that was also approved by the voters.

The storekeepers were required to check customer's name through the database of US Department of Justice to check if he recently purchased a gun in recent years. But the system has been dealing with many issues from the start.

Officials did not enter the buyer's name in state's gun registration system

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Last year The Sacramento Bee reported there have been 345,547 ammunition background checks performed, out of which 62,000 people could not make ammunition purchase. It was because personal information of buyer was not entered in state's gun registration system. Retailers must also review the identity card information with the database registered into California gun registry by the officials. It did not match many times during ammunition background check.

Some of the customers informed that they end up buying new gun to get ammunition for guns they have already purchased. Active duty and retired law enforcement officers told that it was due to system had blocked them from buying ammunition.

16% of buyers could not purchase ammunition

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Benitez in his ruling said that 188 gun purchases were barred as the buyers were prohibited. But the system has rejected 16.4 percent people who were not prohibited people in seven months just after the implementation of the law. "The state objective is to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for its law-abiding citizens to purchase protected ammunition, then this law appears to be well-drafted," he said.

Benitez suggested to create a separate database of prohibited people and hand it over to stores to cross-check it with buyer's license to restrict them from buying ammunition.