Purchasing ammunition and regulations by state

While individuals wishing to purchase firearms are encountering stricter federal laws and regulations as gun violence and mass shootings have increased in recent years, many of the federal laws pertaining to the purchase of guns do not apply to ammunition.

Good news for gun owners

Currently, the only federal laws regulating ammunition are limited to prohibiting sales to certain categories of people and prohibiting the manufacture, importation, and sale of armor-piercing ammunition. While federal law prevents prohibited purchaser categories from purchasing ammunition, it does not require sellers to conduct background checks on purchasers to ensure they are not in said categories.

In most states, gun owners can purchase ammunition with few if any restrictions. All they have to do is go to a store that sells ammo, provide a form of payment, and they’re ready to lock and load.

In all but four states, the minimum age to purchase ammunition is either 18 or 21 years old. In four states, the minimum age is 16 years old. They are Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

In six states, however, loading up is more challenging. Four of the states are in the Northeast.

As with many cultural trends, California is at the forefront when it comes to the regulation of ammo sales. According to an online article by the Giffords Law Center (Guiffords.org California ammunition sales), the state has some of the strictest laws in the country regulating ammunition sales. In 2019, it became the first state to require point-of-sale background checks to purchase ammunition. Furthermore, ammunition sales must go through a licensed dealer or licensed ammunition seller. There are also limits on the online purchase and importation of ammunition and restrictions on the sale of certain types of ammunition.

On the other side of the country, in New York, a new state law passed in 2023 expanding the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act passed in 2013. Under the new law, the background checks will be taken over by New York State Police and include ammunition sales.

New Jersey requires firearms purchase identification cards for ammunition purchases and sets limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines. The sale of handgun ammunition is limited to licensed gun dealers, wholesalers or manufacturers. Buyers must have a Firearms Owners Identification card, permit to purchase a handgun or permit to carry a handgun.

In Connecticut, ammunition purchasers must have a state permit and pass a background check.

Illinois residents are required to obtain a Firearms Owners Identification card to purchase or possess ammunition. The cards are valid for ten years.

In Massachusetts, residents must have a firearm permit or license to purchase ammunition.

Note: The information provided in this article regarding is intended for general informational purposes only. We assume no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information presented herein.

Regulations can vary greatly by location, and they are subject to change at any time due to legislative updates, legal interpretations, or other factors beyond our control. It is imperative that readers verify the current ammunition regulations in their specific jurisdiction through official government sources, law enforcement agencies, or legal professionals before making any decisions or taking any actions related to ammunition possession, purchase, or use.

We disclaim any liability for any loss, injury, or damage incurred as a result of the use or misuse of the information contained in this article.