Political Report: Raw Deal: California Passes Ammo Registration
Saturday, January 23, 2010
If you asked people to name the biggest problem in our country
today, many would tell you it`s the economy. If you asked gun
owners to name the biggest problem that prevents them from enjoying
the shooting sports, many would tell you it`s the ammunition
And if you asked small business owners in California what
problems they face, they could point to a study--issued by the
governor`s own "Small Business Advocate"--showing the burden of
over-regulation in California costs an average of $134,122 per
business per year.
Now, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made all
three problems worse. And he did it by enacting a regulatory scheme
that even the federal government decided was a waste of time--23
years ago. Worse yet, it`s the same scheme that he previously and
sensibly vetoed--three times. On those occasions the governor
called the scheme "simply unworkable" and of "no public benefit."
We`re talking about ammunition registration. A.B. 962, the bill
signed by Schwarzenegger, will require buyers of ammunition to
provide government ID so that the transaction can be logged for
review by the police at any time. It also requires buyers provide a
thumbprint. It mandates ammunition be stored in locked cabinets, or
in some other way that prevents direct access by customers. The
legislation will eliminate the delivery of ammunition purchased
online to residents of California. Due to vague wording, it may
even prevent a person from selling a spare box of ammunition to a
friend or family member.
Registration of ammunition is not a new idea. Anti-gun
politicians have long resorted to childish slogans when their
gun-ban proposals are rejected, predictably proclaiming that "guns
don`t kill people--bullets do." Some California legislators have
proposed taxing ammunition so that every round would cost
But ammunition registration was long ago rejected by the federal
government when everyone realized there was no crime-fighting value
to the red tape registration created. And that scheme was far less
intrusive than the one Schwarzenegger just signed into law.
It was no surprise to see Gov.Schwarzenegger surrounded by giddy
gun-ban activists and anti-gun politicians at the bill signing. The
bill`s sponsor, Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon from Los Angeles, said,
"You have to show identification when you buy alcohol, you have to
show identification when you buy cigarettes . . . this is no
different." But there is a world of difference. Even if a
California resident is "carded" for tobacco or beer, there is no
paperwork to fill out with the person`s name and address, and no
thumbprint is taken. If these requirements were the law, there
would be a line dozens of people long outside every convenience
store. And some would resort to a thriving black market
Even some members of the media were skeptical. One pointed out
the record-keeping by itself was useless, asking DeLeon, "So if
someone comes in and wants to give a thumbprint and can give a
thumbprint every time, they can buy as much ammunition as they
want, right? Even if they`re a criminal?" "It sets up the platform,
it sets up the framework, if you will, where law enforcement can
have a valuable tool," responded DeLeon. He was pressed on the
question and finally admitted, "Hopefully next year or the year
thereafter, we`ll get a system set up for a real-time check."
California residents can look forward to the anti-gun cabal pushing
forward to make this scheme even more invasive, costly and
time-consuming. Nothing new there.
One fairly new development is that new members of law
enforcement are beginning to chafe at the hopelessly naòve and
futile restrictions coming from the California legislature, and now
from the governor, too. Lt. Rick Ells, a spokesman for the San
Bernardino Sheriff`s Department, told the San Bernardino Sun, "What
you`re doing is setting up a means of tracking law-abiding
citizens` purchase of ammunition. What would be great is a way to
track the way criminals purchase their ammunition . . . they`re not
buying their weapons or their ammunition from [licensed dealers],
and that`s the problem."
That`s basically what the federal government decided in 1986.
But now, California residents will have to suffer massive red tape,
increased costs and inevitably the loss of yet more gun dealers
before Governor Schwarzenegger figures it out.