Because there is legislation regarding the use, possession, carrying, and ownership of firearms, it is deemed logical and necessary that gun ammunition also be regulated in a similar fashion. Much like firearm regulations, ammunition laws exist at both the federal and state levels, allowing states to further control gun ammunition by instituting more regulations and laws to restrict the ammunition as they deem appropriate.
Federal ammunition laws serve as a template and guide that all states must adhere to. Provisions and additional restrictions may be imposed by each individual state, as far as they do not infringe on the federal laws. Federal law prohibits the possession and transfer of any kind of ammunition by convicted felons, and individuals with a history of substance abuse--including illegal drugs, alcohol, and controlled substances--and those with domestic violence restraining orders.
Federal law also restricts the sale of gun ammunition to those under the age of 18. Handgun ammunition may not be sold to or bought by anyone under the age of 21. Other federal provisions include the restriction of gun ammunition to the following:
Individuals that have renounced U.S. citizenship
Individuals legally considered to have a mental disability
Individuals committed to a mental facility, either voluntarily or otherwise
Individuals dishonorably discharged from the military and armed forces of the U.S.
Certain states impose certain restrictions and regulations that further control the transaction, possession, and carrying of gun ammunition. Certain states may employ some of the same restrictions as imposed by the state, but adjusting them in such a way that would make them more restrictive without violating federal law. Other states require a certain kind of permit in order to purchase ammunition.
Certain states also regulate the type of ammunition that an individual may purchase or possess. The states of Illinois, Massachusetts, and Delaware all impose extra provisions on the requirements of federal law to legally be in possession of gun ammunition. Illinois implements that no person with misdemeanor convictions may possess ammunition. This provision does exclude traffic violations.
Any person that is considered to be a juvenile delinquent is also barred. Massachusetts employs similar restrictions, but also adds that any person under age of 15 may not posses any gun ammunition. Those over the age of 15 may possess gun ammunition under written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Delaware restricts any person under the age of 25 that has been considered a juvenile delinquent in the past from possessing ammunition.
Furthermore, Illinois and Massachusetts both require a permit in order purchase ammunition as well as firearms. These permits, called firearm identification card (FOID), must be presented at the time of purchase to legally acquire firearms or ammunition. The application for a FOID card must be made with the proper law enforcement authority or organization, and each applicant is subject to pass a criminal background check before being eligible to receive the permit.
Massachusetts goes one step further by designating two classes of FOID cards. Class A FOID cards are available to those over the age of 21 legally permitted to purchase firearms and gun ammunition. Class B FOID cards are issued to applicants over the age of 18, and restricts the purchase of gun ammunition for smaller capacity firearms.
There are also many states that impose regulations on the type of ammunition that can be bought, sold, or possessed with the limits of their borders. The following all have restrictions on Armor-Piercing Ammunition, and provide for their own unique methods of employing those regulations: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Some states also have restrictions on large-capacity magazines.
A magazine is a storage and feeding device that eliminates the need to reload each individual cartridge before discharging. Each of these states defines a large-capacity magazine by its own standards, which range from a maximum of ten to a maximum of twenty: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. For the exception of Hawaii, this restriction applies to all types of firearms; Hawaii restricts only handguns from having large-capacity magazines.