Prop 63: 2016

Proposition 63

Firearms. Ammunition Sales.

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The Measure:

Measure Identification

Measure ID: Proposition 63
Measure Name: Firearms. Ammunition Sales.
Type of Ballot Measure: Initiative Statute
Election: 2016 General


The Question:

Should the state of California strengthen background checks and Justice Department oversight; tighten restrictions and monitoring for gun and ammunition sales; require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms; and ban large capacity magazines?

The Situation:

Under federal and state law, certain individuals are not allowed to have firearms: (1) those convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors; (2) those found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness, and (3) those with a restraining order against them. A national background check system exists to ensure that a buyer is not a prohibited person, and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) cross-checks it in order to identify illegally possessed guns and confiscate them.

Under state law, there are limits on the type of firearms that can be bought, a waiting period before a buyer can get a firearm from a dealer, and requirements for reporting firearm sales. Starting in 2018, a one-year DOJ license will be needed to sell ammunition, and most ammunition sales will have to be through a licensed dealer. Starting in 2019, dealers will have to confirm with the DOJ that those seeking to buy ammunition are not prohibited persons, and dealers will generally have to collect and report detailed information on each ammunition sale to the DOJ, to be kept for two years. Additionally, the ownership of large-capacity magazines will be limited.

The Proposal:

Prop. 63 includes various regulations related to the sale of ammunition, some of which would replace existing law. Individuals would have to obtain, and pay for, a four-year permit from the DOJ to buy ammunition, dealers would have to check that buyers have such permits, and the permits would be revoked from persons who become prohibited.

Persons convicted of stealing a firearm would be prohibited from possessing firearms. A new court process would be set up to ensure that those prohibited individuals don’t continue to have firearms, and new reporting requirements would be established.  The maximum penalty for possession of large capacity magazines would be increased.

Fiscal Effect:

There would likely be increased state and local costs in the tens of millions of dollars annually due to increased workloads caused by the new court process. Potential state costs related to the regulation of ammunition sales would likely not be more than millions of dollars annually, and could be offset by various regulatory fees. Potential increased state and local correction costs likely would not exceed the low millions of dollars annually.

A YES Vote Means:

A new court process would be created for the removal of firearms from individuals upon conviction of certain crimes. New requirements related to the selling or purchasing of ammunition would be implemented.

A NO Vote Means:

No new firearm- or ammunition-related requirements would be implemented.

Supporters Say:

  • Prop. 63 will save lives by preventing dangerous criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining and using deadly weapons.    
  • Prop. 63 will protect the right of law-abiding Californians to own guns for self-defense, hunting, and recreation.

Opponents Say:

  • Prop. 63 is opposed by the law enforcement community and civil rights groups, because it will burden law-abiding citizens without keeping violent criminals from accessing firearms and ammunition.                    
  • Prop. 63 will burden the court system with the enforcement of flawed laws.          

Official Support:

Safety for All

Major Financial Contributions in support of Prop 63 as of September 15, 2016 include: 

  • California Democratic Party ($1,118,783)
  • Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor ($727,564)
  • Sean Parker ($400,000)
  • George Marcus ($250,000)

Official Opposition:

The Coalition for Civil Liberties

Major Financial Contributions to oppose Prop 63 as of September 15, 2016 include: 

  • California Rifle & Pistol Association ($50,871)
  • National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action ($45,000)
  • Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms ($42,562)
  • Firearms Policy Coalition ($32,704)

Financial contributions to ballot measures change frequently; for up-to-date campaign contribution information, please check Cal Access.

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