New California Handgun Cartridge Law


This is just a gentle reminder that the provisions of a new California law affecting handgun cartridges goes into effect on February 1, 2011. The following is from the California Dept. of Justice web site at

"•Beginning February 1, 2011, the delivery or transfer of handgun ammunition must occur in a face-to-face transaction, with the recipient providing bona fide evidence of his or her identity and age, subject to specified exceptions. Non-face-to-face transfers, such as internet transactions and mail order deliveries are prohibited. A violation is a misdemeanor. (§ 12318.)

•Beginning February 1, 2011, handgun ammunition vendors must obtain a thumbprint and other information related to handgun ammunition transactions subject to specified exceptions (including transfers to peace officers who are authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope their duties). The information must be retained by the vendor for five years from the date of the transaction. A violation is a misdemeanor. (§ 12061.)"

In the past, I have shipped lots of collectible handgun cartridges (mainly Gyrojets) to friends in California using UPS ground service, ORM-D sticker, etc. I guess that in 30 days, California handgun cartridge collectors will have to receive their cartridges through a gun shop after providing a thumbprint and other information.

Maybe John Moss can provide some details and explain how we can send him, and others, stuff legally. I sure hope California doesn’t restrict the transfer of books on handgun cartridges.


Mel - you have explained the law. Anyone in California will just have to find a dealer willing to accept shipments of cartridges. Do not be surprised if that is difficult, or if the dealer wants to charge you 25.00 or so to receive even one cartridge. The paper work for him is the same, almost, as selling a gun. My dealer is a friend, and even then asked me not to have constant, tiny shipments sent to him for me. He suggested I find a friend out of state who would receive all my shipments, and then once or twice a year put them all together and send them to him for me, so he is not constantly doing all the paper work for one or two cartridges.

I suspect most dealers will simply decline to receive ammo shipments.

Banning books on guns and ammunition would be too far even for California, although they probably would like to since most Progressives are only a coin-flip from being NAZIs in their attitudes. I am sure most would love to see the bonfires lit and gun books, and any other book disagreeing with their insane opinions, thrown into it. The first amendment issues would be huge. Well, who knows. The Federal Government has ignored the Constitution for years on other issues, so why not California?



Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I try not to follow the decline of California too closely. Very sad.


I assume no consideration was made for cartridge collectors. I am curious as to how the law defines “handgun ammunition” as that has never been well defined by law makers. There seems to be something in New York now about handgun ammunition purchases. I was buying some .22 rimfire at Wallymart recently and the sales clerk asked if this ammunition was to be used in a handgun. I pointed out that the box said "Long Rifle". That was good enough for him…

At least you will no longer have any gang crime in your lovely state once this brilliant plan kicks in.



John; Thanks for the information. Is it your understanding that the new law also applies to California cartridge collectors shipping cartridges out of California? The new law uses the word “delivery,” which makes me wonder if it just applies to California collectors receiving cartridges, and possibly not sending them.


There is a two story house for sale next to me in TEXAS!


While I have nothing to substance to add to this topic, however I feel that I must say something.

It’s appalling.

As a retired cop of thirty-eight years I have seen many state and federal legislators pass well intended, but ill conceived laws that impact the wrong segment of society. Once a law is passed, it is almost impossible to remove it.

I would be scared to death to be a collector in California. And I am at a loss on how to express my sympathy for the collectors and honest citizens of that state.



Mel - I see nothing in the law preventing a Californian from shipping ammunition out of state. However, it will be primarily how UPS and FEDEX interprest the law that matters, not what it actually says.

UPS in South San Francisco, for example, will not take a package that contains anything .50 calib er or over, mis-interpreting two laws, I am sure, one which puts limits on calibers “over .50 caliber” and the law prohibiting .50 caliber rifles, but not the .50 BMG cartridge of itself.

I will try to establish a “gathering point” either in the Reno environ or in Southern Oregon, which will allow me to drive up at my leisure (Reno - up and back easy in one day; Oregon, up and back eaxy in two days) and pick up my stuff whenever i have time or the modd strikes me. No matter how you look at it, though, it is just one more nail in the coffin of cartridge-collecting for Claifornians. The smartest (luckiest?) collectors here will be those that accumulate anything that strikes their fancy, and are not wed to the attempt to get everything in one field.
In short, they don’t care if they have everyhting in one area - they just grab up anything that strikes their fancy and are satisfied with that.


The method of shipping to one place and then ship to reship. I have been doing this for the last 10 years and the advice I can give you is, record/record/record. In the 3-6 months to see the items you will forget what you ordered and why you ordered it. If possible it would be really helpful if you get get actual photos of the items. If not you will develop a very large stock of duplicates. Auctions are very difficult, you will need to work with only the best sellers who you can trust or you will get a lot of junk and it will be too late to return the items. Even though it is a pain to collect it is still worth the effort you can still enjoy the hobby. Thanks to all on the Forum it really helps in adding descriptions that have been lost or misplaced. Vic


Just kicking around the use of words for a few moments. The legislation appears to apply only to dealers( vendors as stated). Does that, by implication mean that private individuals are not affected? Im sure thats not what they intended but thats what it appears to say.

Like so many of the laws in Britain the ambiguity is infuriating. What happens then is that people end up either operation in a fog of indecision or more likely not taking the chance and avoiding practices that may well be perfectly within their legal rights.

Very soon this law will start to grow bits on it. Creeping Legislation I call it. Then one day someone taps you on the shoulder for giving your son a box of reloads to try at the range. Sorry Sir but thats a transfer and all transfers have to be recorded.


The law is really not ambiguous, unfortunately. It requires all ammunition transfers (cartridges going from one person to another, regardless of quantity, whether gift, loan, sale, etc.), to be face to face. So, I do not have to go to a dealer if I buy a cartridge from a friend here, but it must be face to face, it canot be sent to me. To keep “unqulaified buyers” from obtaining ammunition through shipment, where the sender cannot be face to face with the recipient, the cartridges can only be sent to a dealer, not to any non-licensed person in the state, in order that a face to face transfer can be effected, and the dealer can ascertain that the buyer is eligible (in this case, I am sure, meaning for the most part that he is not under-age).

That actually does not sound unreasonable. However, that was basically Federal Law for years after the 1968 Gun Control Act - that is, dealer record-keeping of transactions involving the transfer of ammunition. First, it was all ammunition. Then, BATF exempted .22 rimfire. Next, they exempted rifle and shotgun ammunition, bringing us to a law similar to the “new” California law. Finally, with the blessing of most local law enforcement agencies throughout the country, the revoked the requirement in total, admitting that it had proved to be totally useless as a crime-fighting tool, a gun safety requirement, or in keeping ammunition out of the hands of “unqualified” people.

So, it is only natural that since this kind of regulation has a long history of admitted failure in the
United States, the Progressives would want to re-enact such laws. Progressives worship failure.


John, you may want to answer this privately, but I have to ask.
If someone sent some handgun ammo to a person in CA via UPS, but did not mark the package as such, would the CA person have actually violated CA law? Would UPS have any blame? Would the outside sender have violated CA law?


Jon - I am not a lawyer, but I suspect that UPS would be blameless, since rules governing the transportaion of Small Arms Ammunition ORM-D would have been violated by their customer, who sent them unmarked and falsely identified. Such shipments require an ORM-D sticker. The reciptient could probably get away with it, pleading that he did not solicit the shipment and was unaware of the contents until he opened the box (if he received it at all). However, that would put the sender, obsentsibly his friend, in the position of committing a Federal Crime. Not a good thing all the way around. This stuff is no joke anymore - well, the requirements are a joke, for the most part - a bad joke - but it is taken very, very seriously these days. I don’t recommend that anyone ship any ammunition or any other hazardous substance unless the shipment is properly identified, tagged, and legal to send if those requirements are met.


Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:09 pm

Re: New California Handgun Cartridge Law
John, you may want to answer this privately, but I have to ask.
If someone sent some handgun ammo to a person in CA via UPS, but did not mark the package as such, would the CA person have actually violated CA law? Would UPS have any blame? Would the outside sender have violated CA law?

John Moss reply

I don’t recommend that anyone ship any ammunition or any other hazardous substance unless the shipment is properly identified, tagged, and legal to send if those requirements are met.

The problem as “I see it” looks like a state of Ca. problem only, but mark my words on this it will grow like a cancer if only one is to look at the above statements.

John Moss is 110% correct on this, why? because when a package is caught or found like this in the UPS system, UPS is required to call law enforcement and if it crossed state lines then the feds i.e. FBI.

I know as I have been directly involved in this kind of problem at UPS (I am retired with UPS after 31 years of service)
UPS will put up with this a time or two and then probably step in and say “no more ammo shippments” ever again because they wont be able to regulate it and the union will support it because of the possable danger that it may cause to employees.
And then it “will become MORE than just a Ca.” problem.