If they can't take your guns, they'll take your ammo. Ammunition serialization in Washington?
Leave it to the Left to probe the Constitution for vulnerabilities. Both the United States Constitution and the Washington state constitution quite clearly respect that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms. Individual gun ownership is a real bone in the throat for many on the left, and they chafe at impediments to the imposition of power known as constitutions. So, leftist Democrats in the Washington State Legislature have decided to go after ammunition.
The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once introduced a Second Amendment work-around by proposing what he called, “arsenal” regulation. His law would have allowed citizens to own a few guns without any great inconvenience, but would have made ammunition difficult to acquire or own. That idea failed, but it certainly inspired a fresh line of thinking in gun controllers. People may have the right to keep and bear arms, but the Constitution does not explicitly permit ammunition ownership. Outlawing ammunition would have been a bit like allowing us to own cars but making gasoline inaccessible.
A recent fad among gun controllers is to propose sensible sounding “ammunition serialization” laws. State Representatives Al O’Brien , Brendan Williams , Dennis Flannigan , and Jamie Pedersen, all Democrats, introduced a bill requiring that all handgun ammunition manufactured or sold within the state of Washington be marked with a serial number. The publicly pronounced, touchy-feely goal of ammunition serialization is to imprint every handgun bullet with a unique serial number that could be matched to the purchaser of that ammunition and that information would be stored in a state maintained database. In theory, bullet serialization would permit law enforcement to match bullets used in violent crime to the original purchaser.
That certainly sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Who could be against that?
Well that’s not the true intention of the law. Requiring ammunition manufacturers to print every bullet with a unique serial number would force ammunition makers to purchase tens of millions of dollars worth of new equipment. Serialization would force manufacturers to produce ammunition in lots of 20, 50 or 100, instead of millions. Ultimately, this would force the price of ammunition so high that very few would be able to afford it. They may as well just mandate that every bullet be made of a precious metal.
Oops! I hope that the Brady Center for gun control doesn’t read this column. I don’t want to give them any new ideas.
The United States Constitution does not confer the right to keep and bear arms upon Americans. It recognizes that the right exists and forbids government from infringing upon that right. For all the debate about what that dangling participle, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,” means, the author of that amendment, James Madison made it quite clear in subsequent writings that he intended to protect the rights of the individual. By his definition, a militia as every able bodied man.
The Washington State Constitution is even more clear: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to
organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”
Gun controllers believe that they can subvert this right by restricting ammunition purchases. But I’m reminded of a law meant to limit abortions a couple of decades ago. If my memory serves me well, the state of Ohio enacted a law that would have required women who were seeking to abort their pregnancies to first view a sonogram of the doomed child. The courts found that this represented too great an imposition upon the exercise of a constitutional right.
I’ve read the constitution and the word abortion appears nowhere in the document. The Supreme Court declared that they could discern this right in the "penumbras, formed by emanations" from the Constitution. So one might predict that a right enumerated in clear text would be more worthy of defense than an ethereal right floating around in an emanation. On the other hand, while the courts have upheld the right of free speech for pornographers, they’ve shown less interest in protecting political speech.
As such, we should not rely upon the courts. This bill needs to be aborted early in its gestation.