Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Encoded Ammunition: Where We are Now

This is a summary of the 'Encoded Ammunition" situation as of this moment.

It is the text of an email I sent to The Unofficial IPSC List today.

The NRA announced today that Congress (read: Ted Kennedy and such fellow travelers as McCarthy and Rangel, et al) have introduced a bill in both the Senate and the House requiring that firearms sold in the United States be so designed that they will stamp an identifying serial number on all ammunition (read: headstamp brass) fired within semi-automatic handguns.

This is entirely reminiscent of SB357, which passed in the California Senate in 2007.

There is no technology which can reliably effect this encoding effort, although there are a number of ways by which the knowledgeable firearms owner can easily obfuscate such efforts. (A bastard file on the breach-face, for example, would suffice.)

This is just another legislative attempt to impose ruinous regulations on firearms manufacturers and drive up the price of firearms (and ammunition, see below) for the unstated but obvious purpose of imposing bureaucratic controls on the purchase of shooting supplies, including the firearms themselves. It's an end-run on the Second Amendment, a blatant attempt to circumnavigate the Constitutional protections which are an integral part of the American Culture.

This bill is a lock-step part of a recent concerted and coordinated assault on the 2nd Amendment, as evidenced by bills introduced into the legislatures of (so far) Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Washington.

These states have introduced bills which attack not firearms, but the ammunition which are available to shoot in 'handguns' and 'assault weapons'. Since the definition of these categories is fluid, they may be readily be interpreted to apply to almost any caliber of ammunition (note that the Thompson Center handguns may be chambered in such calibers as .30-30, .30-Krag, .30-06, 7mm Magnum, etc This may be interpreted to designate these and similar calibers as 'handgun ammunition' or 'pistol ammunition', since there are no protections against these calibers.)

These ammunition categories are subject to bills, perhaps to be accepted as law, referring to "Encoded Ammunition".

The bills have several characteristics in common.

By a certain date (between 4 months and one year), only 'encoded ammunition' may be sold in these states. "Encoded Ammunition" is defined as bullets with a erial number micro-engraved on the base of the bullet, which must remain legible after being fired. The serial number must be unique to the BOX of bullets (nominally, each 50 bullets or cartridges must have the same unique number.)

Ammunition vendors (retailers!) must register, must identify the retail customer who buys this ammunition (name, DOB, Drivers License number and 'such other information as the regulating authority may deem advisable'), and the vendor has an obligation to register with the state, pay an annual fee, and report on a 'regular basis (monthly, quarterly).

There is typically a 'per-round tax' on the ammunition, which ranges from 0.05 cents to five cents per round, to be remitted to the State to support a database. Penalties (usually 'misdemeanor' may be imposed on the vendor for ignoring the law. Penalties may be imposed on the purchaser for simple possession of 'noncoded' ammunition within one year after 'encoded' ammunition is mandated, and manufacturers who 'attempt to avoid this law are subject to $1,000, $5,000 or $10,00 fines ... for each occurrence.

These bills have been introduced to state legislatures between January 15 and February 8 ... so far.

Given that an equally burdensome bill has been introduced into both Federal houses, we have no reason to expect that these six states are the last to introduce such bills.will be limited to the cited states.

I have been tracking and reporting on these bills. Go to Cogito Egro Geek, and look at the article titled 'Microstamping Ammunition: It Isn't Just For States Any More!'

From there, you can follow the links on the sidebar to articles which describe 'encoded ammunition' laws in the various states.

One of the articles ("the 2008 Geek Guide to Encoded Ammunition" ) ... provides a link to an Excel spreadsheet which summarized the common characteristics of the state bills.

I'm not saying that these bills are likely to pass into law in the various states, I'm just saying that if the majority of legislators in these states are so inclined, there's no reason why they would NOT carry the bills forward unless the voters in these states are willing to become active and lobby against the bills.

Since there is currently no reliable technology upon which the bills may rely on effect such encoding, there's no reason why passage of these bills wouldn't effectively make ammunition so expensive that it is no longer possible to afford to buy ammunition. Ammunition components for reloading are not specifically protected against these measures.

Think you're safe because you live in a 'red state'? Think again. Even many ''Blue states" have a distinctive 'red' tinge.

After all, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana may be considered 'Red States' according to the 2004 electoral returns.

I'm being very serious here. Watch your six.

Jerry the (Red State Prisoner in a Blue State) Geek

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