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Proposed law would require serial numbers on ammunition

Auburn Journal | July 5, 2005
By Penne Usher

Auburn gun rights activists say a proposed new law to require serial number on bullets is a bad idea and a prelude to an attempt to ban handguns.

Activists are responding to an ammunition restriction bill that recently passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

SB 357, introduced by state Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, has the backing of Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The bill, if passed, would require that all handgun ammunition be marked with a serial number for tracking purposes beginning July 1, 2009.

But local gun advocates say that is just the beginning.

"There's clearly an agenda to ban handgun ownership in California" said Dwayne Souza, owner of Sierra Gun Supply on Highway 49.

Bill backers said that is not the case.

"The ultimate goal is to give law enforcement a tool to solve handgun crimes," said Jim Evans, spokesman for Dunn's Sacramento office. "This would not affect legal handgun owners."

Some question if these additional restrictions are meant as a means of control or are a bonafide effort to decrease crime in California.

"I can see the benefit for law enforcement if there was some sort of shooting," said Chief Nick Willick of the Auburn Police Department. "Perhaps it could aid in finding out who fired the shot."

Others say that theory doesn't hold water.

"Who held the gun and who pulled the trigger?," Souza asked

Empty shell casings can't tell law enforcement that vital piece of information, but might provide an additional tool for investigators.

In addition to the new serial number restrictions, the bill would make possession of un-serialized bullets illegal effective January 2016.

The bill states that possession of handgun ammunition not serialized is guilty of an "infraction punishable by a fine ... imprisonment ... or both."

Billy Prior, of Auburn, said he does not agree with the new law, adding that it will be too costly for manufacturers to comply and won't do much to impact crime. However, he sees a future in ammo collection.

"We'll dispose of the ammo at no charge," said Prior, who operates Auburn Outdoor Sports on High Street.

Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel for the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's institute, said the SB 357 would be too costly to implement.

"Manufacturers cannot comply with requirements of the bill unless new factories are built," Keane said. "They simply don't have the ability to build new factories for California. They will have to abandon the market."

Evans said the bill does not mandate the type of technology to imprint the bullets. He said etching companies currently have the technology available and contend that the cost isn't as great as the manufacturers believe.

"Bullet manufacturers refuse to meet with the engravers," Evans said. "They want to kill the bill outright. It's easier to say it's too expensive than to sit down and discuss."

Willick said additional gun control restriction may be intended to reduce crime, but in reality place more restrictions on law-abiding citizens.

"The reality is a certain amount of gun control is good," Willick said. "We could go way beyond."

No other state has a law that requires ammunition to be regulated

SB 357 moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in late July or early August, officials said.

Souza and other gun owners said they felt there were a handful of politicians leading a flock to slaughter.


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