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Election 2016 FAQ: Proposition 63, Gun And Ammunition Sales

Proposition 63.
California Counts
Proposition 63.

Proposition 63 regulates ammunition sales, requires lost and stolen guns be reported and makes gun theft a felony See a list of all our proposition explainers here.

California Counts is a collaboration of KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio to report on the 2016 election. The coverage focuses on major issues and solicits diverse voices on what's important to the future of California.

The basics

California already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation. But Proposition 63 aims to tighten them even further, while also placing new regulations on selling or buying ammunition.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the main force behind Proposition 63. Several of its key provisions were already signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in July. Some say that makes Proposition 63 less urgent, but backers say putting the weight of voters’ approval behind these gun control measures would make it tougher for future legislatures and governors to change them.

What you're voting on

Proposition 63’s most significant provisions would:

  • Regulate ammunition sales, requiring background checks for buyers and licenses for sellers
  • Fully ban gun magazines capable of feeding more than 10 rounds of bullets
  • Create a process for newly convicted felons to turn in their guns
  • Require people to report lost and stolen guns
  • Make stealing a gun a felony

Proposition 63, together with the new laws signed by Brown, would essentially treat ammunition the way the state treats guns by requiring background checks for the sale of bullets. Additionally, the theft or loss of ammunition would have to be reported to law enforcement.
The biggest differences between Proposition 63 and the recently signed legislation is that Proposition 63 requires that lost or stolen guns be reported to law enforcement; Brown vetoed that bill.

It also sets up a process for criminal offenders to hand in their firearms.

Currently, mentally ill Californians and those convicted of certain violent crimes are prohibited from having guns. But that ban is loosely enforced, and there’s a backlog of more than 12,000 banned gun owners who haven’t been checked. Proposition 63 would require people whose felony convictions prevent them from having a gun to prove to a court that they gave up their firearm before being sentenced.

The measure would also create increasing penalties for people who fail to report lost or stolen guns.

Who are the opponents?

The N.R.A. and other pro-gun rights groups vehemently oppose Proposition 63. They say that it will chip away at Second Amendment rights without doing anything to keep guns and bullets away from criminals, since they can buy them in other states like Nevada with less strict gun control laws.

Regardless of what happens with  Proposition 63, opponents have already begun circulating petitions to add ballot measures in the next election to rescind the laws Gov. Brown signed. 

Fiscal impact — by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

New court procedures could cost in the tens of millions of dollars annually. Costs for prisons, jails, parole and probation would probably not be more than a few million dollars each year. Some of the costs would be paid for by fees on ammunition sellers or gun buyers.

Supporters say — by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

  • Proposition 63 would make sure that violent criminals and people with mental illnesses don’t have access to guns.
  • This strengthens existing gun laws and prevents dangerous people from buying ammunition.

Opponents say — by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

  • This would make it harder for people who follow the law to buy ammunition.
  • The costs for Proposition 63 could be better spent training police, hiring more officers and getting violent criminals off the street.

How much is being spent on the campaigns?

Explore all national, state and local returns now.