Monday, April 23, 2007

California Introduces Ammunition Regulation Legislation

Hot Off The Shooting Wire

"Guns don't kill people. Bullets kill people."

So says California Assemblyman Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who is now pushing California Assembly Bill 362, a measure to require background checks on anyone wishing to purchase ammunition in the state.

In the wake of last week's murder of 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech, there has been a renewed discussion and debate over firearms ownership in America. Nationally, the Democratic party has learned the issue of firearms isn't one that can elect a candidate, but the issue can certainly turn a close race against one. Consequently, they are remaining silent on the issue whenever possible, or at least saying that gun control is not really the issue in the acts of mentally deranged people.

Over the past year, the interest in firearms regulation has apparently waned. In fact, it is ammunition and not firearms currently under scrutiny and attack. There have been a number of legislative measures introduced on a state level across the United States. They have ranged from simple regulation of the quantities of ammunition a person could buy to micro-stamping, the serializing each round of ammunition produced.

But in the wake of last week's tragedy, California has re-energized their moves to regulate ammunition. Assemblymande Leon's measure would require background checks on all ammunition purchasers. AB362 would also require that all personal information be collected - and transactions conducted - face-to-face, ending the sale of ammunition by mail. It would also require than retailers store their handgun ammunition behind counters away from customers. Federal law requiring ammunition purchasers present identification was repealed in 1986's Firearms Owners Protection Act, largely because the identification process was found ineffective in reducing crime.

This latest version would require dealers collect - and file with the State Department of Justice the names, addresses, birth dates, signatures, thumbprints and drivers license or identification numbers of all buyers of ammunition, in addition to a description of the ammunition purchased.

Sam Parades, executive director of Gun Owners of California doesn't feel the measure will do all that much to deter criminals. "I don't consider criminals dumb," Paredes says, "They figure ways to get around whatever is thrown at them." Others say it would be a simple measure for anyone not wanting to deal with the hassles to go to Nevada and bring back their ammunition.

Assembly Bill 362 does not require the information be gathered for rifle and shotgun ammunition, nor .22 caliber ammunition. AB 362, however, isn't the only bill either before the Assembly or waiting to become law.

And Assembly Bill 1471 is still lurking out there. This bill, which has already been decried as virtually impossible to implement and totally impractical to enforce, would require that the make, model, and serial number be microstamped onto the interior surface or internal working parts of all handguns in such a manner that those identifiers are imprinted onto the cartridge case upon firing. Per AB1471, handguns that do not include their identifying information would be defined as "unsafe," and their manufacture, sale, and transfer would be a crime.

As was reported in The Outdoor Wire last year, the "microstamping" bill is one which is technologically impossible. Microstamping has been used - successfully - in the electronics and computer circuitry industry to tag components so as to make it possible to identify the manufacturer and other information. The idea of microstamping on firearms, however, is one that totally disregards the simple fact that no technology is either existent or planned to make that microstamping practical. With a microstamp in place on a firing pin (like the example in the photo), it would take very little effort to simply file off the microstamp, using only household tools. Of course, peening, the repetitive hammering of the firing pin on cartridges would also make the microstamp progressively more faint, where a new firing pin would remove the mark completely.

And the always unanswered question is cost. Who would pay the costs for either of these bills? The consumer. Although the discussion is a bit overheated at this point, firearms dealers say these extensive registration processes, if carried out with today's technology (primarily paper) would add as much as $25 to each ammunition transaction.

Fortunately, cooler heads in the California legislature say these regulations are unnecessary. Instead, these legislators oppose any further impositions on law-abiding firearms owners and suggest that stricter enforcement of bans on felons owning firearms would be a better deterrent.

Additionally, small business advocates say the proposed measure would effectively close many "mom-and-pop" businesses.

We'll keep you posted."

Oh the hell with it. Let's just get it over with and start making smart guns that only work for law enforcement and of course politicians.

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