Brief #13—Gun Control

Policy Summary
While virtually all focus in the gun control debate revolves around the use, distribution, and availability of guns, California is now taking an unconventional approach to reduce gun violence. Instead of focusing on guns and their accessories, gun control advocates are looking to more closely regulate ammunition in hopes of chipping away at the growing gun epidemic in the United States.

Although guns are the central narrative in the conversation to control gun violence, ammunition is widely available and faces virtually no regulation. Gun control advocates argue that without ammunition, guns are harmless.  In some states, they can even be sold in vending machines, at pharmacies, and in jewelry stores, according to The New York Times.

This lack of regulation is part of the problem and gives gun owners free range once a gun is obtained. Technically, federal law prohibits individuals who are banned from buying guns also from buying ammunition, but there are no efficient systems in place to uphold the regulations. Controlling access to ammunition is not a new idea, but one that has not been heavily enforced, giving lawmakers a chance to tighten regulation in hopes of reducing gun violence.

California is trying to change these lax practices by exploring the prohibition of online sales that allow unlicensed dealers to  ship bullets directly to the buyer and instead requiring that all ammunition  be shipped by licensed gun dealers. In addition, starting next July, California will require all ammunition sales to include purchaser point-of-purchase background checks.

Politicians in California hope that the tightened regulations on obtaining bullets will make guns less harmful and keep ammunition out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have access to a firearm. Critics of the policies say that these new regulations will make it more difficult and expensive for hunters, shooters, and lawful gun owners to obtain bullets. However, no set penalty  laws have been put in place, so burdens on these individuals are still hypothetical.

Engagement Resources

  • March For Our Lives – an organization started after the Parkland school shooting which aims to unify advocates for gun control around relevant issues. You can also find more information about the  Road to Change tour on their website. Consider donating or canvassing during the midterm elections on these issues with this organization.
  • Everytown – A movement of Americans working to end gun violence and build safer communities.
  • – A resource to utilize if you need to register, are unfamiliar with voter ID requirements, or election processes so you can be ready by November.

Contact This Brief was written by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Sarah Barton:

Photo by DxL

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