Maryland: California-Style Ammunition Background Check Bill

Gun Rights

The General Assembly starts its 2021 session this week and House Bill 175, a bill with California-style restrictions on ammunition sales, has already received a committee assignment. Please contact the House Judiciary Committee to OPPOSE HB 175.

House Bill 175 is a deeply flawed bill that requires “ammunition vendors” to conduct a federal NICS background check on prospective recipients of ammunition. “Ammunition vendor” is vaguely defined in the legislation and could potentially mean that private individuals cannot sell or give ammunition to friends, family, fellow hunters, range buddies, etc.

Federal law only allows Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) and state authorities to run NICS checks, and they may do so only for firearms. Businesses selling ammunition are not required to hold an FFL. Many small businesses such as sporting goods stores, hardware stores, and antique shops sell ammunition without transferring firearms. Both licensed firearm dealers and ammunition-only vendors are unable to run a NICS check for an ammunition-only sale.

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The bill exempts ammunition transfers by vendors at shooting ranges that hold a “business or other regulatory license” only if the “ammunition is at all times kept within the facility’s premises.” That means that people may not keep ammunition that they purchased to replenish expended ammunition brought from home or keep leftover ammunition without taking the time to go through government red tape. Vendors for those shooting on private property, such as a visiting instructor bringing ammunition for students, presumably may not distribute ammunition.

The bill exempts transfers of ammunition by vendors to holders of a Handgun Qualification License (HQL), but this exemption also falls short. Many law-abiding gun owners do not hold an HQL, such as those who have not purchased a handgun since 2013, those who have no desire to purchase handguns, young adults aged 18-20, individuals from out of state, and current or retired military personnel who are exempt from an HQL.

Please click the “Take Action” button above to ask the House Judiciary Committee to OPPOSE HB 175. Stay tuned to and your email inbox for the latest news on Second Amendment issues during the 2021 legislative session.

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