Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Perils Of Ammunition Serialization

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.


Mattwi said...

As of today's date the following States have put forth this legislation:

Arizona House Bill 2833
California Senate Bill 997 (Carried Over from 2007)
Hawaii House Bill 2392
Hawaii Senate Bill 2020
Hawaii Senate Bill 2076
Hawaii House Resolution 82-07 (Carried Over from 2007)
Hawaii Concurrent Resolution 104-06 (Carried Over from 2007)
Illinois House Bill 4258
Illinois House Bill 4259
Illinois House Bill 4269
Illinois House Bill 4349
Illinois Senate Bill 1095 (Carried Over from 2007)
Indiana House Bill 1260
Maryland House Bill 517
Mississippi Senate Bill 2286
New York House Bill 6920 (Carried Over from 2007)
New York House Bill 7300 (Carried Over from 2007)
New York Senate Bill 1177 (Carried Over from 2007)
New York Senate Bill 3731 (Carried Over from 2007)
Pennsylvania House Bill
Tennessee House Bill 3245
Tennessee Senate Bill 3395
Washington House Bill 3359

2007 Legislation
California Senate Bill 997
Hawaii House Resolution 82-07
Hawaii Concurrent Resolution 104-06
Illinois Senate Bill 1095
Maryland House Bill 1393
New York House Bill 6920
New York House Bill 7300
New York Senate Bill 1177
New York Senate Bill 3731

Courtesy: GOAL Post 2008-4, Legislative Update from Olympia 8 February 2008

Friday evening was policy committee cut-off. At least theoretically, bills that had not passed out of their original policy committee are considered dead for the remainder of the session (subject to a majority “pull” to the chamber floor).

HB 3359, by Rep Al O’Brien (D-1). HB 3329 requires encoding – serial numbering – all handgun ammunition sold in the state of Washington.

This idea has been kicking around for several years, and up until now we have been able to keep it out of the legislature.

HB 3359 requires all ammunition primarily intended to be fired in
handguns – this could include .22 rimfire (it clearly includes .22
rimfire pistol match ammo) – to have BOTH the projectile (bullet) AND cartridge case marked with an identifiable serial number.

It also includes pistol bullets for reloading. Retailers are required to report the sale of ammunition with the serial numbers involved and the identifying information taken from government-issued ID, to the state Department of Licensing. The requirement takes effect January 1, 2010.

HB 3359 was assigned to House Judiciary for action. It was introduced just after the policy committee cut-off (Judiciary’s last hearing before cut-off was held on 5 February), so theoretically the bill will not be acted on.

As noted above, cut-off dates are set by the legislature, and bills can be pulled from committee directly to the chamber floor.

Sign up for GOAL Post by email:

This is why I say, buy cheap and stack deep... cheapest prices are online...


Tom Forbes said...

Coincidence? I think not. If Obama gets elected, with a Democratic House and Senate behind him, we are going to see gun grabs that will make the first two years of the Clinton Administration pale in comparison. The balmy years of the Bush Administration are just about over for gun owners.

McCain is no friend of the Second Amendment either.

Tom Forbes said...

Be sure to check out the "Global Poverty Act" Obama is sponsoring in the Senate. It calls for, among other U.N. one world nonsense, banning "small arms and light weapons."

Michael said...

Surely you're mistaken Tom. When Obama was in Boise, he promised that he pro-Second Amendment. A Democrat wouldn't lie.

Michael said...

BTW, even though Barack Obama extolled God, Guts and Guns during his Boise visit, he's an advocate of ammo serialization. He calls it "common sense."