If you reside in certain parts of the United States, you might not realize it but your ability to purchase ammunition online is likely severely restricted, either for logistical or legislative reasons. Therefore, let’s talk about those places where such restrictions are an unfortunate reality, as the old “knowledge is power” infomercial really is true and it is in your best interest as a law-abiding citizen to know how such restrictions negatively impact you.
Before we dive into which places are restricted and why, please keep in mind that if you live in a restricted area, your best option is to join the NRA and write your Congressman or elect a different one who has more respect for your Constitutional rights. Moving is also another route to consider.
So which specific locations are restricted from purchasing ammo online? Here’s a rough list:
1. Hawaii & Alaska – The common misconception is that ammo cannot be shipped by air. This is incorrect, although the paperwork and permitting costs are really costly to the point of being ridiculous, making it simply not worthwhile for the vast majority of online retailers to ship to Hawaii or Alaska.
2. Massachusetts – Massachusetts requires that anyone who sells ammo to a resident of Massachusetts be licensed by the county in which they are located. This obviously creates a problem for an online retailer who has no physical location in the state, which means online ammo sales to Massachusetts are a no-go.
3. New Jersey – New Jersey requires that sellers of ammunition obtain a copy of the New Jersey issued permit that is required for a resident to purchase ammunition. Why a resident even needs such a permit is beyond the scope of this column, but what this restriction results in is the purchaser needing to fax in a copy of said permit to the retailer. This restriction creates an unnecessary hurdle between New Jersey-based buyers and all ammo retailers but it can be overcome.
4. Illinois – Illinois also requires that sellers obtain a copy of the state issued permit – called an FOID card – for purchasing ammunition as well as a photo ID of some sort. Copies of both can typically be submitted via fax. There are certain exceptions to this rule regarding FOID cards, however. For example, if the buyer can prove that he or she is active law enforcement or military. That said, FOID card or not, if you live in Cook County – where Chicago is located – you are prohibited from purchasing ammo online or offline – period.
5. California – With the passing of A.B. 962, a new onus has been created by the wise folks in Sacramento which mandates that all handgun ammo sales be made face-to-face and that sellers be required to obtain a finger print and keep a log of every purchase made. The log can be audited by the state at any time. These extremely onerous provisions, which come into effect in February of 2011, make online handgun ammo sales to the residents of California impossible. They will likely also make face-to-face handgun ammo sales more costly & difficult as legal handgun ammo purchasers will have to be fingerprinted.
6. P.O. Boxes – The USPS will not ship ammo of any kind. The USPS also does not permit private carriers to deliver to a P.O. Box. Therefore, online ammo retailers are effectively barred from shipping to PO Box addresses.
Not counting P.O. Boxes, purchasing ammo online by law-abiding American citizens in 1 out of every 10 states in the U.S. is somewhat restricted – or will soon flat out be prohibited in the case of California. This is simply astounding.
To address these realities, there are a few options you have, of which moving is the quickest solution. However, even after moving be aware that there are certainly bound to be exceptions and exceptions to exceptions that are buried in some of the state and municipal ordinances to which you still might be susceptible. Consider for example that there are also restrictions regarding ammo purchases in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York City (just to name a few) – three of the major population centers here in the States. What this means for you as an Internet user and an American citizen is that you need to pay attention to what laws your legislators are cooking up to make you “safer”, as they could unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) severely restrict your ability to log-on and arm-up.