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How the Lawless Affect the Lawful

July 24, 2012

Among the many reasons I’d not live in California again, here’s a highlight of some of the laws currently stuck in court in that fine state around the purchase of ammunition.

The state’s efforts to extend its regulations to the sale of handgun ammunition have been tied up in court.

A law that was scheduled to take effect in February 2011 would have required buyers of ammunition designed “principally” for handguns to be thumb-printed and present identification to the seller. But the law was put on hold by a judge in Fresno.

In this country, you do have to leave a record of your thumbprint with the firearms dealer when you purchase a firearm (that print is then kept in FFL dealer records).  To legally get a concealed carry permit, you also usually have to be entirely printed and those prints are put into the state system.  But ammo?  First, I don’t quite get how you track that across online purchase versus local dealer.  In the second place, the record-keeping would become so onerous that you’d actually encourage people to do larger, bulk purchases as opposed to small ones.  So, a law that would try to limit people buying ammo would instead likely increase its purchase.

And what about people who buy large blocks of ammunition?

“It’s akin to someone going to a gas station with an RV and saying I want 100 gallons of gasoline,” said Randy Collins, owner of J and R Guns in Livermore. “There’s a four-day (training) class that one of my customers takes, and you go through 1,000 rounds in four days.”

“We have people who buy 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and they shoot for trophies, just like you do on bowling league nights,” said Alex Rolsky, who owns the Imbert & Smithers gun shop in San Carlos. “Competition events happen almost daily at indoor shooting ranges where you go with your buddies.”

IPSC shooters (and there are plenty more than most people think) would likely go through a few hundred rounds on a day of competition, and that doesn’t include any practice.  I could digress into a reloading discussion here, but that would give some lawmaker an idea, so I’ll stop.  When a couple of us are shooting on a day of fun, I could easily see needeing 1000 rounds of something popular.

So you understand why I wince a bit selfishly when there’s a big news story of a shooting.  Clearly a mass shooting is a tragedy that needs to be addressed, but I don’t understand where additional laws that affect everyone stops a tragedy where one person goes nuts.  And as I said above, many of these laws are just going to encourage the opposite behavior.

I’m all for encouraging more training for gun owners, and I encourage any owners that I know to do more to learn the laws around the use of firearms in their states.  However, my study of many of these laws personally leads me to mostly conclude that they discomfort legal owners while doing very little to prevent illegal owners from doing what they want.

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