Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Encoded Ammunition: Mississippi

Thanks to The Shooting Wire (does not link to the specific issue), I've become aware of yet another state legislature which proposes to require 'microstamping' or (as the bill text calls it) 'serialization' of ammunition.

MISSISSIPPI: Senate Bill 2286 (Mississippi Legislature 2008 Regular Session)
Bill entered into the record on January 21, 2008

Description: Ammunition; require serial coding.

Background Information:
Disposition: Active
Deadline: General Bill/Constitutional Amendment
Revenue: No
Vote type required: Three/Fifths
Effective date: July 1, 2008

History of Actions:
1 01/21 (S) Referred To Judiciary, Division B;Appropriations

----- Additional Information -----

Senate Committee: Judiciary, Division B*, Appropriations

Principal Author: Jordan
Additional Authors: Jackson (11th), Dawkins, Powell


Bill Text in PDF

Full text of this bill (taken from the full text of the bill in html:

SECTION 1. (1) For purposes of this section, "coded ammunition" means a bullet carrying a unique identifier that has been applied by etching onto the base of the bullet projectile.

(2) (a) All handgun and assault weapon ammunition manufactured or sold in the state after July 1, 2008, shall be coded by the manufacturer.

(b) No later than January 1, 2010, all noncoded ammunition, whether owned by private citizens or retail outlets, must be disposed.

(3) (a) The Department of Public Safety shall be responsible for establishing and maintaining an Ammunition Coding System Database (ACSD) containing the following information:

(i) Register with the Department of Public Safety in a manner prescribed by the department through rule; and maintain records on the business premises for a period of seven (7) years concerning all sales, loans and transfers of ammunition, to, from, or within the state.

(ii) Register with the Department of Public Safety in a manner prescribed by the department through rule; and record the following information in a format prescribed by the Department of Public Safety:

1. The date of the transaction.

2. The name of the transferee.

3. The purchaser's driver's license number or other government issued identification card number.

4. The date of birth of the purchaser.

5. The unique identifier of all handgun ammunition or bullets transferred.

6. All other information prescribed by the Department of Public Safety.

Vendors shall also maintain records on the business premises for a period of three (3) years from the date of the recorded purchase.

(b) To the greatest extent possible or practical, the ACSD shall be built within the framework of existing firearms databases. The ACSD shall be operational no later than July 1, 2008.

(c) Privacy of individuals is of the utmost importance. Access to information in the ACSD is reserved for key law enforcement personnel and to be released only in connection with a criminal investigation.

(4) (a) Any vendor that willfully fails to comply with, or falsifies the records required to be kept by this section, is guilty of a public offense punishable by imprisonment not to exceed one (1) year and a fine of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00).

(b) Any manufacturer that fails to comply with the provisions of this section shall be liable for a civil fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) for a first violation, not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for a second violation, and not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) for a third or subsequent violation.

(c) Any person who willfully destroys, obliterates or otherwise renders unreadable the serialization required pursuant to this bill on any bullet or assembled ammunition is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed one (1) year and a fine of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00).

(5) (a) Establishing and maintaining the ACSD shall be funded by an end-user fee established by the Commissioner of Public Safety.

(b) There is hereby established the Coded Ammunition Fund for deposit of the end-user fees described in this section. Monies in the fund, upon appropriation, shall be available to the Department of Public Safety for infrastructure, implementation, operational, enforcement and future development costs of this section.

(c) Ammunition manufacturers based within this state may submit a one-time tax credit application for cost of purchasing ammunition coding equipment. All applications must be submitted by July 1, 2009.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2008.

What's significant about the Mississippi version of this bill?

(Note that not all of these points are present in bills proposed in other states; not all of these points are unique to Mississippi.)
  • There is no 'per round' fee which 'must be' added to the purchase price of the ammunition; instead, the "Ammunition Coding System Database" ('ACSD') is [5(a)]: "... funded by an end-user fee established by the Commissioner of Public Safety." This 'end-user fee' is not defined, nor are guidelines attached to the bill.
  • The requirement that [2(a)] "All handgun and assault weapon ammunition manufactured or sold in the state after July 1, 2008, shall be coded by the manufacturer ..." is a hard deadline. There are no provisions for amelioration of the restrictions imposed by this bill if either the technology to perform this coding by the manufacture is not available to meet this deadline, or if the manufactures will not or can not meet this deadline, or if the ACSD is not ready by this deadline. Essentially, if any of these sticking points are not feasible, NO ammunition will be sold in the state of Mississippi after less than six months from the introduction of this bill.
  • Within the same clause, not that "assault weapon ammunition" is included in this bill. The term is not defined. In fact, the term "handgun ammunition" is also not defined. Given that single-shot handguns have been, and will be made which are capable of firing what are traditionally considered 'rifle-caliber ammunition', almost ALL ammunition is subject to this restriction.
  • Personal identification data is recorded, and archived. Also, caliber and other 'unique identifier(s) of " ... handgun ammunition or bullets transferred" is also recorded. This is, essentially, registration of the fact that the purchaser almost certainly owns firearms of a certain caliber ... which is ipso facto registration, although the serial number, make and model of the firearm are not (in this version of the bill) required to complete a purchase.
  • The January 1, 2010 deadline for disposal of "all noncoded (sic) ammunition" may be impossible by the usual methods of shooting or selling the ammunition. This imposes a personal monetary loss to those affected, which is not subject to reimbursement by the state. No procedures are provided for disposal of this ammunition.
  • The "Coded Ammunition Fund" [5(b)] is proposed to be established by "appropriation". This vague terminology does not specifically identify a source for funding, yet it may become law. Funding, if by monies gathered by state taxation, would be a matter of law ... which may remove monies needed for other public programs. This would deprive those programs (eg: education, health & safety, police) of funding to the detriment of these programs.
  • Under clause [5(c)], "Ammunition manufacturers based within this state may submit a one-time tax credit application for cost of purchasing ammunition coding equipment." This is another burden on state tax revenue. No parameters are defined for this process, leading one to suppose that the state will be loath to actually grant the tax credit.
Another note about clause [5(c)]:

From "The Shooting Wire" newsletter, January 25, 2008 (the source of my original information):
This latest piece of legislation has to be making the folks at Winchester ammunition happy. After all, they've just opened an ammunition factory in Oxford. This latest hare-brained proposal could lead to the rapid evacuation of the plant, the loss of hundreds of Mississippi jobs and millions in tax revenues.
As we said earlier, these issues are not all unique to Mississippi ... but this one probably IS.

In common with all proposed bills of this type, though, this particular bill would have several immediate effects on the citizens of Mississippi:

  • The draconian measures proposed here would put an unbearable burden on manufacturers (both in-state and out-of-state) in a rush to meet unreasonable expectations. The cost of meeting the financial requirements would be shared by manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers but, ultimately these costs will be passed on to the individual.
  • There is NO defined advantage to the citizens of Mississippi if this bill should be passed 'as is'. In fact, the bill does not even pretend to add to the security, health, or financial well-being of the citizens of this state. On the contrary, most if not all businesses associated with firearms sales and service will be rendered defunct because no attempt has been made to protect the smooth flow of commerce.
  • On the contrary, the individual law-abiding citizen can expect only that they are unable to purchase what is otherwise a legal commodity.

There is no justification for this bill. There are no advantages for the average citizen of Mississippi to support this bill. Even those who do not personally embrace the shooting sports ... or personal defense ... stand to be harmed (both financially and in the infringement of their personal rights) by its passage. Businesses will be closed. Jobs will be lost. The tax structure of the state will be undermined.

It is easy to describe this bill (and all those like it) as a sneaky, underhanded, unprincipled back-door attack on the Second Amendment. But it goes beyond the transparency of its ultimate goal.

In effect and in fact, the secondary effects of this bill affects EVERY resident of the state, which is worth repetition if only to emphasize this point:
The authors of this bill have no concern for the well-being of the state economy. They are willing to adversely affect the state economy for the advancement of their own hidden agenda: to remove firearms from their society, whether or not this is a goal which is morally supported by the constituents of the very politicians who have proposed this bill.

A similar bill has already been enacted as law in California.

Similar bills have, within the past two weeks, been proposed in Indiana and Illinois. This is evidence of a disturbing trend by politicians and bureaucrats whose agenda can only be to impose their own personal will upon their constituents, lacking not only a mandate but even a trend suggesting that the citizens of their state want firearms ownership to be rendered moot.

This has been proven in California, whose subjects are obviously too witless or unaware to recognize how their representatives have stabbed them in the back.

It may be acceptable in Illinois, whose subjects don't seem to have mounted a protest.

Even in Indiana, it's barely feasible to believe that Hoosiers are so disinterested in their personal rights to accept this ... (words fail me) ... bill.

But Mississippi?

Why in the world would Mississippian politicians assume that their constituents would take this kind of crap without protest?

We fully accept that several politicians in Mississippi have signed their own political death-warrants with this bill, starting with the sponsor and co-sponsors of this bill.

If these liberal idiots are ever re-elected, the French may as well come to town and re-take their former colony.

Mississippi, if you let this stuff go without rioting in the streets, you don't deserve to be a member of the United States of America.

UPDATE: February 3, 2008:

In case I neglected to mention it (as I am certain), Maryland introduced a similar bill.

No comments: