Encoding Ammunition Will Only Aid Criminals
by Larry Pratt
The latest back-door gun control scheme has come to a number of
state legislatures, and California has already enacted it.
The latest way to solve crime, and thus make criminals shake in
their boots before they commit another crime, is to put unique
serial codes on bullets and the cases in which they sit. The
theory goes that even if a case is not recovered at the scene of
the crime, the bullet will have the unique marking that will
enable it to be traced back to the perpetrator.
Assuming that any manufacturer can afford to manufacture such
ammunition at a price that individuals are willing to pay (a big
assumption), here are the other problems with ammunition encoding.
Bullets that are best for self defense (or harming victims) are
quite likely to be so deformed or disintegrated that they will
offer no possibility of identifying a unique marking on the
Cases can be caught by brass catchers on a pistol or semiautomatic
rifle. These are already available for those who reload their
ammunition and reuse the cases. Would case catchers be outlawed,
too? In any event, the likelihood that the police would have
anything useable to trace back to a criminal is rather unlikely.
Revolvers, of course, do not eject their cases, so there is zero
chance of using cases for tracing those guns.
Coding cannot likely be put on shotgun pellets, nor would they
likely remain intact if the pellets were coded. Moreover, it is
common to pick up spent cases for reuse.
For those who reload their ammunition as an economy move, would
they be required to code the bullets they make?
All of these obstacles pale into minor speed bumps compared to
the huge obstacle of government itself. Currently, there are a
few scores of thousands of machine guns registered to private
owners. The registry is "maintained" (if I may use that term)
by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).
A former head of the registry, Thomas Busey, was videotaped in
a lecture to new agents stating that the registry is about 50
percent inaccurate. (Busey went on to explain that in order to
get convictions of people whose names are not in the registry,
agents must lie on the stand and state that the data base is 100
Canada has had a handgun registry since 1934 that has never,
ever, once been used to solve a crime. Their effort to register
long guns has resulted in failure and scandal (hackers have
penetrated the system and stolen guns from collectors identified
in the registry).
Knowing this, does anyone believe for a minute that BATFE, which
cannot keep an accurate data base of a few thousand machine guns,
can actually keep track of hundreds of millions of bullets?
Police will end up solving crimes the way they do now -- without
help from gun or bullet registries.
And last of all, but certainly not least, consider that
criminals are already smuggling fully-automatic AK-47's that are
showing up on the street. Presumably, they get included with
the loads of drugs that flow into the United States. If machine
guns can easily be smuggled in, does anyone think there will be
any problem getting a case of bullets added to the next dope
What will be the result if the bullet encoding measures get
added to the books? What is that saying? Oh, yes: "When bullets
are outlawed, only criminals will have bullets." At least
Put another way, banning bullets through the back door will end
up leaving peaceful citizens disarmed and only criminals (and
the government) having guns with ammunition. Then, rather than
restricting multiple-murder sprees to gun free zones such as
schools, as well as some churches and malls, ALL of America will
become in effect a gun free zone.
Encode bullets? Yes, say criminals. They will not have armed
citizens to fear!
Larry Pratt is the Executive Director for Gun Owners of America, a
national gun lobby with over 300,000 members. GOA is located at 8001
Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151 and at
http://www.gunowners.org on the web. You can reach Mr. Pratt by
phone at 703-321-8585.