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Gov. to sign bill restricting ammo sales

October 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's going to be a lot tougher to get gun ammunition in California. A new bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to sign will regulate ammo sales in the state for the first time, and like guns, those sales will have to be face to face.Supporters of this new law say it will keep make it harder for criminals and gang members to buy ammunition, but critics say this law will make things more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy bullets.

At a local gun range, there were gun enthusiasts on both sides of the controversial issue.

Andrew Walton is a tourist from England. One of his first visits was to the Los Angeles Gun Club, where he rents a handgun, buys ammunition and tries his hand at target practice, an activity that's not allowed in the U.K.

"It just seemed quite appealing," said Walton. "And I've never done it before -- a new experience kind of thing."

And while he enjoyed firing the weapon, he supports a new state law that would place several new restrictions on the sale of ammunition in California.

"Having either more restrictions on ammunition, or just having very, very expensive ammunition would go in some way to stop gun crime," said Walton.

A few feet away, Jerry Mills is busy trying out a new .45-caliber pistol. He says the new law has no teeth and will do little to curb gun violence.

"If a felon [needs] to purchase ammunition, there will be plenty of friends that purchase it for them, they'll go out of state," said Mills.

Starting in February 2011, retailers in California will be required to place all ammunition behind counters and create a registry of people who purchase bullets for handguns by obtaining their fingerprints and recording their driver's licenses.

The new law also requires face-to-face transactions when it comes to ammunition, which will eliminate any mail order or online purchases by California residents.

"As long as you have a good record, a clean record, I don't think you would mind it," said Jose Callela, who opposes the new regulations.

California becomes the first state in the nation to enact such restrictions. The lawmaker behind the bill says the reasons for it are simple.

"You can walk into any gun store in Los Angeles, throughout the state, and buy all the ammunition you want," said state Assemblyman Kevin de Leon, (D-Los Angeles). "We have no checks, we have no regulations on criminals purchasing handgun ammunition."

"Ammunition is an essential part of a firearm being able to take a life. So it's my belief, that if this saves one life, it's worth it," said LAPD Chief William Bratton.

Schwarzenegger will sign the new bill into law Thursday morning at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.

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