The measure, AB48, would establish restrictions similar to those covering gun sales, including requiring sellers to be licensed and buyers to have and show valid identification.
"When we have so many safeguards in place around the purchase of guns, why is it so much easier to buy bullets, the things that make guns deadly?" Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner asked as she unveiled the measure during a news conference outside her office in Oakland.
"Today, it is easier in California to buy bullets than it is to buy alcohol, cigarettes or Sudafed cold medicine. We've had enough," she said.
Joined by a coalition of lawmakers, law enforcement officials and community leaders, Skinner, D-Berkeley, said the bill she introduced late last month and co-authored with Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, would also ban clip kits that can convert guns into assault weapons.
Saying more than 2,000 Californians were killed by gunfire last year, Skinner said the bill would "bulletproof our communities."
It would also require ammunition sellers to report all sales to the Department of Justice, which would create a registry of purchases to be available for use by law enforcement.
In addition, the Justice Department would also notify local authorities of any large ammunition purchases made in a short period of time.
Bonta said rampant gun violence has to end, noting that 131 people were killed in Oakland last year. He specifically mentioned the seven people who were shot and killed at tiny Oikos University in April, when authorities said a disgruntled former nursing student opened fire on students and staff.
"It's absolutely unacceptable that a person can buy thousands of rounds of ammunition over a short period of time without being detected by law enforcement," Bonta said.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said there is a critical need for tighter restrictions for ammunition sales. She hopes a state law might lead to stronger federal laws.
Jennifer Almendarez, a high school senior in Oakland who works with Youth ALIVE!, a nonprofit group that teaches nonviolence, agreed.
"This bill can save lives in any given situation," she said.
Skinner said the bill will be heard by the state Assembly's public safety committee in late February or early March with a companion bill that would restrict online bullet sales.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he expects the Democratic-controlled Legislature to act on gun control measures this year.
"I think there is a time in history where action is compelled," Steinberg told reporters in Sacramento. "I think the country's views on this subject are changing and Newtown, I think, was an obvious catalyst for that. California has some of the, is more advanced if you will, when it comes to reasonable gun control, but I think we have more to do."
AP Writer Don Thompson contributed from Sacramento.