Last Monday, a new California law went into effect that requires background checks before anyone buys ammunition, making the state the first in the nation to impose that level of scrutiny at the point of sale.

Other states should be so responsible and safe.

California voters overwhelmingly approved the measure in 2016 on the belief that if people are barred from owning guns – because they are felons or have histories of domestic violence or mental illness or have a violent misdemeanor conviction or warrant – they should also be prevented from purchasing ammunition. That makes complete sense.

Under the new state law, ammunition vendors can only sell or transfer ammunition in face-to-face transactions and only after prospective buyers show identification and undergo a background check by the California Department of Justice. Before the change, anyone over 18 could buy ammunition, at retail stores, by mail and online. No disrespect intended to the many responsible gun owners in the nation’s most populous state, but that’s asinine.

Most background checks will take two minutes and cost $1. Others will take a few days and $19.

Of course, gun owners have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Diego to overturn the measure, calling it an intrusion. Of course, the National Rifle Association calls it unconstitutional. Of course, there’s the more sensible view: Assuming the new law survives its legal challenges, California will stay at the leading edge of sensible gun laws, limiting violence while barely but fairly limiting access for most people to guns and ammunition.


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