California Ammunition Background Check System Failures – Bugs or Features?

California ammunition background check system problems

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Who could have possibly seen this coming? The same ultra-competent bureaucrats who brought Golden State gun owners an online system that couldn’t adequately handle mandated “assault weapon” registration last year were tasked with putting together a new system for performing background checks on ammunition sales.

And…surprise! The ammo background check process so far is impossibly buggy and glitch-ridden. Retailers are turning away customers because they can’t log in or navigate the kludgy system.

Gun rights groups are suing the state over the registration system’s manifest failures and now, as this AP report details, the NRA and California Rifle and Pistol Association are lining up a new action over the state’s latest bureaucratic incompetence.

By Don Thompson

California’s new ammunition background check law began Monday not with a bang but with a whimper from dealers who reported delays and glitches with the state’s online system.

But they said few customers were affected because most had stockpiled bullets or shotgun shells in the weeks before the new law took effect.

Voters in 2016 approved requiring criminal background checks for every ammunition purchase. But the state’s latest attempt to deter gun violence only took effect Monday.

Vendors the length of California were frustrated by online snags including their inability to readily log in to the new system that is supposed to let them background-check customers with the state, though some put it down to a predictable learning curve.

Chuck Michel, an attorney for the National Rifle Association and the affiliated California Rifle & Pistol Association, said he will soon cite the glitches in seeking an injunction to block the law. The California affiliate sued last year, maintaining that the new law violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms, impedes interstate commerce and is pre-empted by federal law.

“I’ve had one customer, and I had to turn them away because I couldn’t get into the system,” Don Reed, owner of DGS Ammo & Airguns in Sacramento, said at midmorning. “He seemed a little bit perturbed. … There’s a lot of people feel like they’re being held hostage suddenly — punishing the people who’ve been doing it the right way.”

He was reading through dozens of pages online as he tried to log in, but he groused that “it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure it out.”

Officials with the state Department of Justice, which administers the program, did not respond to repeated telephone and email requests for comment. The department said in a news release that it had sent vendors regulations and instructions on how to comply.

“The eligibility checks ensure purchasers are not prohibited from owning or possessing ammunition due to a felony and/or violent misdemeanor conviction or warrant, domestic violence restraining order, or mental health issue,” the department said.

The state system is supposed to crosscheck one database of people who already cleared background checks when they bought guns in California with a second database of those who bought guns legally but are no longer allowed to own them. The process should take about two minutes, the department said Monday.

Customers pay $1 for the check. Those who pass get their ammo after clerks record the brand, type and amount of ammunition.

“So far it doesn’t work at all. My system doesn’t let me access it,” said Steve Converse, a longtime clerk at Ade’s Gun Shop in Orange, 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Scott Emmett, the manager of the Ammo Bros store in San Diego, said the system was down for the first 45 minutes.

“I sat on the phone for about 40 minutes and no one answered” at the Department of Justice, he said after hanging up in frustration.

Emmett had a single customer by midmorning whose transaction took about 10 minutes instead of the couple minutes it would previously have taken to run a credit card.

“I can’t believe the amount of paper it wastes,” he said. “This one transaction for two types of ammo was almost eight pages long.”

Andrew Hackett, manager of Nice Shot, an indoor shooting range in Redding, 160 miles north of Sacramento, said he would have to turn away customers because he’d had no guidance on how to log into the state system. Customers are allowed to buy ammunition to shoot at his range — they just can’t take any home without a background check.

One of the clerks at OC Guns in Lake Forest, 45 miles southeast of Los Angeles, bought a box of ammunition just to see if it could be done.

“Confusing,” said store owner Scott Bodkin. “Just a learning curve. We’ll get through it.”

Scott Dipman, vice president at Coyote Point Armory in Burlingame, 16 miles south of San Francisco, was frustrated with the online ammunition reporting forms.

“I have thousands of items that I’m going to have to manually type into the system,” he said. “There’s a learning curve for us to figure out what that the new procedure is, and unfortunately the state didn’t give us any peek into what was going on.”

comments

  1. avatar arsh says:

    If you haven’t already sign up for SAF! They’ll be suing the pants off these morons

  2. avatar DrewN says:

    I gotta pick up a couple lbs of 1680 later,maybe I’ll try and buy ammo just to see.

  3. avatar DJ says:

    It was designed to be difficult and fail.

    1. avatar rosignol says:

      Yup.

      They want to make selling the stuff such a hassle that retailers decide it’s not worth their time to stock it.

      1. avatar Donttreadonme says:

        And buyers feel its not worth the aggravation. In turn, it will slow the desire to shoot, deter one generation from teaching the next, and ultimately make it easier to pass more restrictive laws when the next generation is old enough to vote.

        1. avatar Mary says:

          All they will do is move it underground and then no one will know period, or people will go out of state. The democrats are as stupid as their mascot.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Time to wake up and realize gun owners are the new class enemies. We are blamed for all the wrongs of society and NEED to he punished.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Absolutely.

      I have said it before: whenever government requires permission to exercise a right, said government can effectively deny that right when said government fails to grant permission through ineptitude, under-staffing, under-resourcing, or downright refusal to staff/resource the permission entity.

      1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

        Yep +1

      2. avatar MikeJH121 says:

        “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have”

        It has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Barry Goldwater and Gerald Ford. Who actually gets the credit ?

        Does not matter. It is entirely true, no matter who said it first if at all. So far the gov. cannot just take or toys the whole pesky 2A, but as we have seen they just chip away little by little. Putting aside their favorite little idea of utopia in Australia, we Americans are a lot more independent minded and stubborn. We have seen, non compliance, in Conn, and NY. Scale that up, there is not enough of “them” to take us.

  4. avatar SurfGW says:

    The State owes a lot for pensions, so fees it gets for ammo background checks will go into the general fund; 0 effort or funds will go into fixing the system since that costs money.
    In the meantime, people will just buy their ammo at the range and buy hunting or defense ammo out of state 50 rounds each time.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      More likely, I’d just take a road trip, load up my trunk with a few cases of ammo, debox it into buckets and drive it home.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        …which is illegal, which is an infraction and a loss of the “contraband”, but the odds of actually catching me are so low….

        1. avatar LibertyToad says:

          I’m pretty sure CA law does not get to trump Federal Law, despite what CA thinks. The problem is, someone would have to start a lawsuit and get it to a court

        2. avatar Pete S. says:

          …unless you have a C&R and CoE.

          Then you get to be the designated decoy while others cross.

        3. avatar pwrserge says:

          There’s what’s illegal and what they can prove is illegal. The rounds would be in buckets with no packaging info or receipts. As a matter of law, they can’t prove when the ammo was purchased or where.

      2. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

        Do they have ammo sniffing dogs like the drug sniffing dogs? Asking for a friend?

    2. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      “..50 rounds each time.”

      Why would I limit myself to 50 rounds? It’s in my trunk so who is going to know about it except me? And in the rare chance I get stopped by the law, “No, officer, I do not consent to a search of my vehicle. “

      1. avatar Everyday +1 Carrier says:

        You don’t have to consent lol. They will find a way. They work for the same tyrants trying to prevent you from buying the ammo.

        1. avatar Southern Cross says:

          And refusing consent is grounds for suspicion.

  5. avatar Jem says:

    But, of course Gov in Cali always fails except to tax and regulate u to death.

    Good 2A Account to follow ck it out!

    https://www.instagram.com/2020americamatters/

  6. avatar Pete S. says:

    According to the CRPA fact sheet (the more detailed one rather than the simple flowchart) people with a C&R FFL and Certificate of Eligibility can order from out of state vendors and have ammo shipped directly to their homes without needing to go through the state system (since they’ve already been background checked by virtue of the CoE) or register their ammo purchases. Annoying, but it allows one to bypass a buggy system designed to track and register all ammo purchases.

    Some online vendors have gotten a bit confused with the new changes (including the new need to collect CA sales tax), and may not accept such orders for now but they’ll likely come around soon enough.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Just wait until you have supply details on usage.

      As for the system, it was probably knocked together in the last minute using equipment scavenged in dumpster diving (virtue signaling for recycling), and either freeware software or obsolete versions to further cut costs. It worked in the limited test database but never tested under operational conditions.

  7. avatar Cknarf says:

    Yeah, it’s gonna be broke, and the people will be told to ‘deal with it’.

    Been there, done that with the Illinois State Police foid/ccw site.

    Been waiting nearly three months for my CCW renewal to clear so far.

  8. avatar Hors says:

    Tax on a right is not a right…

  9. avatar John Galt says:

    Who is the idiot that waited till THAT DAY to go buy ammo?

    People in commiefornia smoked weed in public until (now) it’s legal. Commiefornia gun owners ARE P*$$IES!

    Scared to exercise A RIGHT lest they get a ticket. I moved to a free state and I puke on their shoes……..let them eat feces!!!!!!!!(or at least walk in it)

    Sooo cosmopolitan… commiefornia is for PUSSie$, commies, bums and competitive baby killers.

    Torches, pitchforks and Auto rifles!!!!!

    1. avatar jwm says:

      vlad, you changed names, again?

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        Nah. That’s not Vlad. He skipped the pro-Stalinist rant.

        1. avatar B.D. says:

          That’s the same troll who keeps changing their name to my name.

      2. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

        We will know when he starts quoting every reply

        1. avatar B.D. says:

          Already does.

  10. avatar OBOB says:

    everyone should go in at least once a week to try to keep the system down and out via overloading it

    then one of the 2nd amd ORG’s can sue for millions from there in damages!

  11. avatar Phil Wilson says:

    Remember growing up in CA, used to stop by the local hardware store for a couple boxes on the way up to BLM land to do some target shooting. One of my favorite things to do. Last I heard you couldn’t shoot there anymore, had to drive 35 miles for the nearest range and wait in line. For now, it seems like you can’t even legally buy ammo. Though at that hardware store, last time I was there a few years ago, they sell expensive coffee but not ammo anyway.

    All in all, California is a great place to be from.

    1. avatar Geoff "Guns. Lots of guns." PR says:

      “Remember growing up in CA, used to stop by the local hardware store for a couple boxes…”

      Hell, I remember it being right next to the cash register (along with the ‘give-a-penny, take-a-penny cup) at my local gas stations, 50 cents for little 25 round boxes growing up in the 70s…

      1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

        When I stop and think of the inflation involved I realize ammo is cheaper now.

      2. avatar Phil Wilson says:

        Better times in some ways.

    2. avatar B.D. says:

      I grew up there. I personally think it’s a shithole.

      1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

        It would take something extraordinary to make me consider moving back. Not interested in putting myself under the thumb of people like the current Governor.

        1. avatar B.D. says:

          Yea I went back b/c of a death in the family to close out their assets and such, stayed for a whole year! what a terrible experience. Looking back at my childhood I remember some of the shit I went though, but didn’t think about it until being back there as an adult. White pride biker gangs frequented my area, homeless, downtown overran by hijab’s and every corner store has a sign in haji, illegal immigration is an undeniable problem, and the only ones ignoring it have illegal family there (even democrat news stations acknowledge border flaws on a regular basis in SD). It’s not even beautiful. The ocean is trashed. shithole. /rant

  12. avatar Bubba says:

    How could they ever prove it if you just loaded up on ammo from across state lines?

    1. avatar SteveO says:

      It won’t matter, LEOs will see it as importation if you get stopped and asked the questions. “Where ‘ya coming from? Been drinking? Any drugs or paraphernalia? Any ammunition? Mind if we search? No?…Well, we can get the K9 here to search if you don’t give us consent. We’ll probably be awhile here…are you sure there’s something you don’t want us to know about? Anything you might want to tell me now while we can help you? well, step over here, I’m going to have to detain you (sound of handcuffs) for your safety and mine.”

      Step 1″ over state line and step back in again while holding same box of ammo, it will be importation. Defies logic.

      But, I am looking forward to Needles, CA, making itself a 2A sanctuary city, with ability to but ammo within 65 miles any direction, in state or neighboring state. And, waiting for Indian reservations to start selling ammo and make some $$$ without the DOJ hassle.

    2. avatar tdiinva says:

      California cannot prevent you from buying ammunition in from out of State. That violates the interstate commerce clause. The only exception to the prohibition of bringing in a legal product across State lines is alcoholic beverages as per Amendment 21, Section 2.

      1. avatar Dan says:

        You can buy and bring in ammo from out of state but only 50 rounds at a time.

        1. avatar LibertyToad says:

          I’m pretty sure the Commerce Clause does not list limits. I can’t wait for CA to fall into the ocean….

        2. avatar Pete S. says:

          No limits apply to people with a C&R and CoE.

          If you plan on getting ammo over state lines, or order ammo from online vendors, this may be worthwhile. Plus the state doesn’t know what ammo you’re buying.

        3. avatar tdiinva says:

          They can write the law anyway they want but with the exception of alcohol only the Federal government can regulate interstate commerce. If they try to enforce it it will be headed to SCOTUS unless the 9th Circuit senses the Court will overturn the law.

      2. avatar Southern Cross says:

        Previous TTAG articles noted the act allows up to 50 rounds can be imported as leftovers from a hunting trip or competition.

  13. avatar SteveO says:

    I was curious of as many Cali peeps could overload the LGS’s and not be able to have ammunition purchase transactions completed or declined due to DOJ sys failure (oops, meant feature), then have a class with civil rights violations to support (permanent) injunction or class action suit?

    Just sayin.

    We gotta be thinking more asymmetrical non-linear response to the constant efforts by the anti-2A types…give them back some Unintended Consequences? (BYW, great book too, back in print.)

    1. avatar rick grant says:

      hi I went today and was second customer with California driver license , my dealer had a little understand doing 1 purchase before me . system ask for bullet type fmj muzzle velocity muzzle energy cost of round well it took a couple minutes paid my 1$ plus cost of ammo , and dealer must keep paper trail for 3yrs .

  14. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Log your milage, time or anything else you have been impacted by this in case there’s a class action suit over it.

  15. avatar jakee308 says:

    To those customers who were perturbed that the system didn’t work? What did they expect?

    Far as the Cali Gov’t is concerned the system is working just fine. As is the registration system.

    You don’t get it? They have NO reason to make it work well if at all. They love that they can blame the software. (isn’t that the goto excuse in the age of the computer?)

    Instead of suing them over their failure to get their oppressive system working, they should be suing to remove the entire system and/or contributing to those who will repeal those laws. Barring success doing that, it’s time for some well armed protests.

  16. avatar John says:

    Californians have no right to complain if they approved it.

    1. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      “..Californians have no right to complain if they approved it.”

      What about the ones who didn’t approve it but are now affected by it? Are they still allowed to complain?

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Outnumbered. Ain’t democracy grand?.

      2. avatar B.D. says:

        I get it, it’s hard to move. And why should anyone have to move just because their state is ran by tyrants? I mean, if it was on a federal level, we’d all be complaining too. The only difference is that everyone would be effected and that would create mass numbers of people willing to fight it, through bloodshed if necessary. So as far as people who live in CA go, I honestly don’t feel sorry. You can move. This socialist way of running a state has been going on a while now, and if you are just hoping you can vote it away, get real. Either gather and put an end to it, or quit complaining. We have not actually fought to keep ourselves free in a century, maybe california would be a great place to refresh. When it came to the ammo laws recently, not a single hand was raised, and if it was, it was done so reluctantly. Most people just stocked up, acting like they would never need ammo again. Californians laid back and acted like it was no big deal. California just being commiefornia. How much longer are they going to show their bellies in that state? So no, most people don’t feel sorry for them, and their complaining is falling on def ears even amongst 2A supporters. Ready whenever they are.

  17. avatar Liber\ says:

    I’ve designed and written computer systems for 35 years in Assembly language, C#, C, C++, Python, and Java (as well as others), so, it’s pretty amusing to see that the government cannot contract a straightforward website. Websites are not very complicated at all. Typical government “quality”…. Like Obamacare, they probably also paid far, far above market value for this kind of work.

    1. avatar GluteusMaximus says:

      I would imagine there are all kinds of costly hoop to jump through to get one of these contracts. I also imagine the contract is awarded to a diversity contractor (women and minority’s)

      1. avatar Crabbyoldguy says:

        Who likely just off shored the work.

        1. avatar B.D. says:

          They are due for an award or promotion soon then, obviously…

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Shades of Healthcare.gov.

      I’ve programmed everything from IMSAI 8080’s and Apple II’s to IBM mainframes, from assembly to Common Lisp and Ada, and the incompetence of government agencies in software is the stuff of legends.

      It starts with their affirmative action hiring policies, and then continues through to the feckless stupidity of the bureaucrats who write the specs and RFP’s. The California DMV had a whopper of an IT scandal years back – it was the IT version of the California high speed rail. Endless overruns, schedules blown, you name it.

      The first question I always ask when inquiring about the future success of a large database inquiry system like this one is “what system and database are you building this on?” If the answer has anything to do with “windows,” I know to sit back and prepare for the amusing spiral of failures that will ensue.

      1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

        From the limited experience in database management I have with NY you are spot on with Windows though 10 so far is less of a trainwreck and anything important seems to be on Oracle. As for procurement I took a transfer to HR so I didn’t have to deal with that dumpster fire. At least now I can slowly recruit an occasional competent employee that could handle some of the problems. Naturally they end up running something less stupid (and not into the ground) the moment they are eligible to transfer.

      2. avatar Knute(ken) says:

        Windows 10, despite the inherent suckiness purposely designed into every Windows product, is still not as bad as Vista was. Vista was a literal joke, a punch line for IT people, like “have you tried turning it off and on again?”:

  18. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “California Ammunition Background Check System Failures – Bugs or Features?”

    Designed and implemented by the same people that brought you the ACA website…

    1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

      Don’t forget the rollout of the NICS, back in the 90s! Remember, when no one could buy a firearm, anywhere in the US, for months?

  19. avatar LUVITORLEEVIT says:

    Why the Hell would anyone be surprised, nothing else the state of California tries works?

  20. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    ‘…punishing the people who’ve been doing it the right way.’

    This should be the Demoncrat Party’s motto. ‘Punishing the people who’ve been doing it the right way since 1828!’

    1. avatar B.D. says:

      I watched a video yesterday of some democrat saying:

      “Our fight for civil rights throughout history has been unwavered”.

      Yea, like the KKK… Sad thing was, he was shouting it in front of people of all races who believe him.

  21. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    YuP the Commiefornia state government puts yet another infringement into play that doesn’t function as with their failed so called assault rifle registration that wouldn’t let residents register their firearms.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      The system was probably implemented by the same people as the assault weapon database as a follow-on project, although the original project is incomplete and will be for at least several years.

  22. avatar Mrgc says:

    I would encourage all Californians to attempt to buy ammo. The more failures there are, the stronger the coming lawsuits will be.

  23. avatar enuf says:

    It is with much relief that reside in a State where the rule of law does not trample upon a Constitutionally Enumerated Right.

    Would not travel to California without considerable duress to do so. And even then I’d first have to renew my USA Passport, as I have not set foot outside of America in twenty years.

    1. avatar B.D. says:

      Damn. Mic drop.

  24. avatar SamlAdams says:

    New York gave up on this. Wondered how CA was going to do it. Got the answer. Not.

    1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

      Oh we didn’t give up it’s just on delay to find better ways to infringe our rights and survive the legal challenges like the one that mostly struck down the 7round limit. Currently most of the talk is limiting ammo purchases to 20 rounds every 120 days.

  25. avatar FedUp says:

    Attempted usage of the system was negligible because most people don’t plan on buying ammo in CA for a very long time.

    And the system couldn’t handle negligible usage.
    If that doesn’t say ‘you couldn’t have failed harder if you tried to fail’, I don’t know what does.

  26. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    California voters are like voters in Venezuela. They’re getting exactly what they voted for. California voters also voted to raise the price of gasoline on themselves in the state.

    They can legally have sex in public in California. They can shoot up crystal meth to improve their sexual experience in public in California. And of course they have legal recreational marijuana in California. And they can “drop acid” legally in some cities now I suppose. I’m glad I left California many many years ago. It was a nice place growing up when I was a kid in Sacramento.

    Amazing how a society can simply “vote their civil rights away” as long as they can get intoxicated and have whatever sex acts they want to.

    Last month I watched as new conservative couple, former California residents walked into a local gun store. She was so happy. She announced it was her 18th birthday she was from California and wanted to buy a handgun. And the gun store owner told her “welcome to Free America.”

  27. avatar UpInArms says:

    “Just a learning curve. We’ll get through it.”
    “There’s a learning curve for us to figure out what that the new procedure is, … ”

    This sounds to me like an astonishing level of resignation and surrender.

  28. avatar Mark says:

    LEO’s should get a background check every time they are issued ammo! They’ll fix or drop the system real quick then.

    1. avatar KGM says:

      In tyrannical kalifornia many firearm laws have a LEO exemption. Job title and the clothes one dawns, gives more and special rights over the unwashed peasants. AKA LEGAL LAW-ABIDING AMERICAN CITIZENS. In governments eyes, the worst of the worst.

  29. avatar 2aguy says:

    This is no different than when the democrats used Literacy Tests to keep Blacks and poor Whites from voting……..when it comes to keeping people from exercising their basic Rights, the democrats have it down to a science.

  30. avatar Geoff says:

    I don’t believe neighboring States have to enforce California laws, I predict ammunition smuggling to be the next “big thing.” How is California going to stop people from buying ammo out of State? Setup ammunition check roadblocks on every Interstate highway, road street and cow path into California?
    I don’t know about Arizona, Nevada and Oregon, but I have not had to show my DL to buy ammo at Bass Pro or any local gun store or pawn shop.(except at stupid Walmart, so I quit buying it there. With grey hair and beard they think I’m under 21?)

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Watch the eventual patrolled “security zone” that will make the former Inter-German border or the Maginot Line look under equipped.

  31. avatar KGM says:

    Three times in the last three days, I could NOT purchase a simple brick of 22LR. LGS could not log in or get a response. My 2A rights could not be exercised. Now the LGS prices are outrages, knowing full well he has a captive clientele. The closest COMMIE KALIFORNIA approved shop is 50 one way miles away.
    AIN’T FREEDOM AND LIBERTY GREAT?????????????????????????

  32. avatar Daniel Mount says:

    California’s Ultra-Incompetent Politicians and Anti-American, Anti-Constitution, Anti-Christian God, Anti-Freedom Commy bastards need to die at GITMO.

  33. avatar JS says:

    Tried to purchase some ammo today and I was “Denied” How is it that a 50+ year old church going housewife can’t purchase ammo. I have no tickets, no arrests, pulled over once for not having a front plate on my car, never had any issues. I have had plenty of background checks — for work, Girl Scouts, school volunteer, to purchase my hand gun – this is the most ridiculous thing ever.

  34. avatar Gary says:

    DOJ (all getting big paychecks) will not answer the phone or respond to email. Nuff said about the real intentions of the inbred with DMV DNA autistics running the system comrades.

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