Monday, February 04, 2008

2008 Geek Guide to "State Encoded Ammunition" Bills

Given the plethora of "Encoded Ammunition" bills introduced into various State legislatures in January, 2008 (five so far; there may be more, I'm still researching), it occurred to me that it would be handy to have some kind of 'tracking document'.

Accordingly, I spent a couple of hours building an Excel Spreadsheet listing the salient characteristics of all the bills I have so far discovered. You can download the "2008 Geek Guide ..."( etc.) here.

Note that the file, 2008_Encoded_Ammunition.xls, will require that you have Microsoft EXCEL loaded on your computer. You can download it, but you can't read it without the software.

Here's a list of the states reported to date: Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Hawaii, Tennessee.

And here is a list of the data items found there, along with a short (?) description of the data points:

  • State: The name of the state in which the bill is introduced.
  • Bill #: The designation of the bill(s). Note that in at least one state (Tennessee), the identical bill was simultaneously introduced in both houses.
  • Link to Text: A "Tiny URL" code. Copy and past it into your web browser, and the original URL will be generated to take you to the document which contains the full text of the bill. Note that I neglected to include this link in at least one of my original articles. I hope I've corrected those articles, but ALL are referenced here.
  • Sponsor: The name of the state legislature(s) who sponsored and/or introduced the bill. This allows you, if you are a resident of that state, to follow him/her back to his/her personal website and send him/her emails appropriate to the amount of outrage you feel about his/her disenfranchisement of honest shooters.
  • Justification for bill?: A simple YES/NO, if the text of the bill includes verbiage which attempts to justify the introduction of this disgusting piece of .... legislation. (Sorry, I can't help editorializing, even when I know I shouldn't. I'm just that irritated.)
  • Date Bill Introduced: The date the bill was first read into the record in the state house, assembly or senate.
  • Bill Status: The current status of the bill, usually, "referred to Committee" or similar verbiage. Bills so designated sometimes STAY in committee until the end of the legislative session (January 1 of the following year), after which they will die. At least one bill has a "bill expiration date" built into it, which I presume refers to the legislative guidelines for that state.
  • Type of Ammo: The limitations on the kind of ammunition which is subject to these restrictions. ALWAYS "Handgun", but may also include "Assault Weapon" or "Assault Pistol". Some states include a list of "Designated Weapons" in the bill, which usually refer to what is essentially an "Assault Weapons" list established by existing state laws.
  • Sell Only By Date: The date upon which vendors (retailers, etc.) may offer for sale 'only' ammunition ... or bullets (some states mention both) which has been "encoded".
  • Own Only By Date: The date upon which all vendors and private citizens may not possess ammunition (or bullets? .. not always clear) which has not been "encoded". Possession may or may not involve specific penalties; see below.
  • Per-Round Tax/Fee?: ALL states have, as far as I know and of this date, imposed some kind of tax or fee per bullet; this is most commonly five cents, although one state sets the fee at ".005 cents" which works out at five cents per thousand rounds or bullets. As noted, this last may be a typographical error. It's difficult to imagine politicians setting the fee so low, as long as the bill is obviously designed as an ipso facto impediment to free exercise of the second amendment. (There I go again!) Mississippi politicians aren't even honest enough to set the fee as part of the bill. They merely stipulate that a "End User Fee" will be established. Don't expect a "five cents per thousand rounds" fee from these boys. They ALL have to finance a database system, enforcement, and undefined other expenses needed to administer this bogus bill. (Oops! Sorry.)
  • Fee Retained by Retailer: A couple of states provide that the vendor may retain a portion of the fees they collect, presumably to encourage the vendors to support the bill. Fat chance, ammunition sales will be so undercut by this oinker that the resulting market won't support any retail sales of ammunition or other firearms-related business in these states. (Dammit! Stop that, Geek!)
  • Owner Penalties: This identifies the fines or penalties which may be imposed on 'anyone' who attempts to defile, obscure or obliterate the serial numbers on a bullet or round of ammunition. Usually a misdemeanor ... but we're usually talking about a year in the pokey and/or a fine of $1,000.
  • Merchant Tax Penalty: One state (Illinois) imposes a penalty on a vendor who fails to accurately report tax revenues (the "per-round tax/fee"). This is a Class 4 Felony in Illinois. As may be presumed, the bureaucrats don't like it if you file the serial numbers off bullets but they take it seriously when you don't pay them their Dane Geld, hence the Felony vs the Misdemeanor. (That was okay, wasn't it? Not 'editorializing'?) The rest don't mention it ... to date. Apparently, that is covered in another section of the Code.
  • Merchants Adherence Fine: I THINK this is the fine for selling non-encoded ammunition after the cutoff date. Your guess is as good as mine. Universally, it's $1,000.
  • Buyer Data Collected: The information that the vendor is required to collect to define the retail buyer. Always Name, Date of Birth, Driver's License Number, and "any other information which the (governing agency) may define/require". More weasel words; they can ask for the serial number of the firearm in which you choose to shoot the ammunition, if they want to, and if there are not state laws forbidding this ... it's okay!
  • Retailer Reporting: The vendor must report the information recorded on each ammunition sale periodically. This is either Monthly or Quarterly, if it is included in the Bill. Presumably, when you report the information, you must also remit the 'End User Fee' collected at the time of sale.
  • Enforcement: For the Average Joe, this is one of the most important facets of the bills. In Illinois, the 'administrative authority' (usually the DOJ) can make it up as they go. Excuse, I mean the "any reasonable rules" may be imposed. That's an administrative decision, not subject to normal Congressional Oversight. Not encouraging. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is the administrative authority. Isn't it nice when the police get to make the rules?
  • Exceptions: Who do these bills, if they become laws, NOT apply to? In those states in which the legislators actually spent more than ten minutes writing the bill, the "Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Organizations" are exempt. No word yet on whether the National Guard and the U.S. Military are exempt; but since they are not LEOs, and they are not specifically exempt ... hey, they might grab a few bucks from the Feds! (Must ... Control ... The ... Fist ... Of ... Death!)
  • Bill Expiration Date: As mentioned above, one state included and expiration date for the bill if it is not enacted into law. Probably an administrative requirement, but I include it just for ... well, actually, no reason at all.
  • Notes: Miscellaneous notes included only to show that not all states just stuck to boilerplate. The general text is obviously taken from a template ... source not yet identified ... but some states legislatures seemed to feel that they needed to assert their individuality. Indiana declared an emergency; Hawaii and Mississippi granted an 'income tax credit' for in-state bullet/ammunition manufacturers to purchase, install and use bullet-encoding machinery; Tennessee included a really onerous records-keeping requirement for both vendors and manufacturers.
  • Text for Justification of Bill, if present: For states which included a justification of this bill (a minority, only Hawaii and Tennessee), the full text of their 'justification' is included just so you don't have to read the actual bills. I found it interesting that (so far) the majority of states which accepted this bill-template didn't feel it necessary to explain WHY this bill was necessary. I interpret this to mean that they don't care enough about the citizens who have to live under these egregious rules; they just entered the bill because they can. I'm guessing that they're Liberal Democrats who are just looking for a real good rating from The Brady Campaign, and don't expect the bills to get out of committee, let alone actually pass, so why bother? This may be "a good sign" that the authors aren't serious about the bill(s).
I'll be updating this document, if and as more states are found to have proposed similar bills. (What am I saying? These are all the same bill, with minor variations.) If you find an error in the document .. and I do strongly encourage you to view this document critically with the goal of correcting errors and providing more information ... please let me know.

I'm tempted to dismiss these bills as bogus, not likely to pass; nothing to see here folks, move along. But since the Microstamping Bill (not the same thing) was passed in California last year, it is demonstrably NOT SAFE to expect that any gun-control bill, no matter how unreasonable or how irresponsibly enacted or how badly worded, cannot be passed by any given legislature. EVERY TIME a bogus gun-control bill is passed by a state, it sets a precedent for other states which are controlled by liberal gun-grabber politicians who just want to get their names on the roster of 'people who are trying to accomplish something about crime!'

No more editorializing. Every time I write one of these articles, it makes my guts ache for the rest of the night. I find it hard to believe that these weasels are stomping on the rights of their constituents for their own career advancement.

But then, if they weren't rats and weasels, they would find honest work.

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