Tuesday, June 28, 2005
IN MY OPINION (Coulumn)
Missing the Target Again on Crime
By RAY HAYNES
(The writer represents the 66th Assembly District, which includes portions of western Riverside County and northern San Diego County.)
Liberals in Sacramento are missing the target again. At a time when people are upset and fearful of serious sex offenders that are being placed in group homes in their neighborhood with little or no oversight, the Democrats in the legislature have once again rallied around their favorite “tough on crime” issue and declared war on... bullets!
Despite the lack of evidence that any of their goofy gun control laws have ever stopped a single murder, and despite the fact that they have already succeeded in banning scary “assault weapons”, allegedly unsafe “Saturday night specials”, and the imaginary menace of “50 caliber sniper rifles,” they have dug deeper this year to invent new ways to harass gun owners in California.
There are four major gun control bills moving through the legislature. Two are major threats to the future of gun ownership in California. One that is mostly just annoying (AB 944) adds a bogus new warning to the six warnings already required by law. Relying on discredited studies, it claims that the “State... has determined that” among other things “it is safest not to keep a gun in the home.” I guess that means you’re okay if you keep it in your purse or car?
The second more limited bill (AB 996) requires all handgun ammunition to be kept inaccessible to the public, but doesn’t explain how this is to be done. It could require all of it to be under lock and key. It could require it to be merely behind the counter. It could require specific lock requirements like the state now does for handguns.
No statistics indicate that theft of ammo is a major problem in this state, and at $10-$50 per box, don’t retailers already have sufficient incentive to prevent theft? Some of the larger gun stores have rows of ammunition for sale in a wide variety of weights, bullet types, and grains of powder, under different manufacturer labels at differing prices. Keeping it all behind the counter under lock and key will be nearly unworkable for some stores.
The two bills that seem designed to stop the sale of firearms and ammunition in California are AB 352 and SB 357. Apparently written by someone who has watched too many episodes of CSI, both of these bills attempt to add high tech identifying marks to bullets to make it easier for the police to solve crimes.
AB 352 sets up a cockamamie, laser-etched, micro-stamping system inside the firing pins and chambers of handguns that would mark the ejected shell casings with the make, manufacture, and serial number of the firearm.
From a law-enforcement perspective, it will only provide even greater incentives for the bad guys to steal guns that won’t be registered (which is what they usually do anyways). It would also allow killers to collect marked casings at shooting ranges and then scatter them at crime scenes to confuse the police and cause law-abiding citizens to be harassed and questioned by the police.
Oh yeah, and it is completely useless on revolvers. This will also require manufacturers to completely retrofit equipment and factories to make handguns that will only be sold in California. My guess that many won’t bother and will just leave the market here.
SB 357 will require every bullet in California to have an identifying number that will be traceable to the purchaser with a complicated and expensive bullet registration system. Anyone who keeps his old ammo, or casts his own bullets would be subject to expensive fines. People (including one of my own staff members!) would have to dispose of hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of unmarked ammo to comply with the new law.
With 8 billion rounds of ammunition manufactured world-wide per year, and some factories turning out a million rounds a day, how can they verify that 50 rounds in a single box have the exact same serial numbers? And how do they keep them from being switched later? The industry suggests they’d have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building special factories, just to sell handgun ammunition in California.
Furthermore, while stealing ammunition (as discussed in AB 996) hasn’t been a problem before, if this bill passes it will create an immediate hot new black market for out-of-state and stolen ammunition. Is that really what they want?
I’m afraid what they want is to make gun ownership for recreational and personal protection purposes impossible in California, as manufacturers and retailers continue to flee the state.
But while these gun bills have passed the floor in their house of origin, bills to extend parole periods and require GPS tracking of sex offenders (SB 1044), prevent felons from owning sex offender group homes (SB 1046), keep sex offender group homes away from schools (SB 1051), and create a one-strike punishment for certain sex crimes against children (SB 448) have been defeated or stalled in Sacramento by the Democrat majority.
Do you feel safer yet?
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company