New York’s Ammunition Background Check System: A Catastrophic Failure


If you want to buy a box of shotgun shells or even.22 LR ammunition anyplace in New York state, expect a slew of personal inquiries, a background check with a $2.50 fee, and a long wait.

A new state legislation went into effect last week that mandates ammunition sellers, who must all be licensed by the state, to undergo background checks on all ammo purchasers through the State Police. The law also requires shops to build and keep a database of their customer’s personal information, as well as a list of everything they purchased, including the number of rounds.

According to Mike Mayhood, proprietor of Mayhood’s Sporting Goods in Norwich, New York, the new system is riddled with procedural and constitutional issues and would certainly drive many ammo sellers out of business.

“We lose money on every box of ammo we sell because of the time involved,” Mayhood said last week. “I’ve never seen things so difficult. It’s not going to get easier. We’re going to have to raise our prices. We know it’s all intentional.” 


It can take up to 15 minutes for Mayhood and his colleagues to enter the information necessary by State Police into their computer, and then there are delays. His record was 22 hours. Some consumers become enraged, according to Mayhood.

“Two guys canceled their order because of the delays and wanted their information taken off the state registry,” Mayhood said. “I called the State Police, but they said there was no way to remove their info. The customers left mad, but it’s not our fault.” 

Some of the ammunition offered by Mayhood’s Sporting Goods (Photo courtesy Mayhood’s Sporting Goods)

The information required of the purchaser includes: 

  • Name
  • Street Address
  • City 
  • State 
  • Zip code
  • County/Parish/Borough
  • Reside in city limits? 
  • Contact info (confirmed email and primary phone)
  • Country of citizenship 
  • Government ID 
  • Is the purchaser an alien who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa? 
  • Social Security Number or UPIN
  • Driver’s license number 
  • Place of birth (Country, state and city)
  • Occupation 

The information required of the ammunition they purchase includes: 

  • Manufacturer
  • Caliber 
  • Grain
  • Amount of ammunition being purchased (number of rounds)
  • Ammunition manufacturer’s number (lot number, serial number of other distinguishing number).

That state law also requires State Police to conduct “periodic” onsite inspections of ammunition and firearm retailers. 

Mayhood and his customers are under no illusions about the government’s true intent in requiring so much information. 

“New York is creating a gun registry,” he said. “And the rumor going around is that the state is going to institute limits on the amount of ammunition you can buy.” 

Norwich is prime hunting land, Mayhood said. Deer and turkey abound. He’d like to quit selling ammunition but knows he can’t. 

“I’m the only place within hours where you can buy guns and ammo, but I don’t want to sell ammo under these new rules,” he said. “It doesn’t feel right. It feels like a violation of everything.”