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Because they failed to take away our guns, they're coming after our ammo

By John Silveira

Issue #116 • March/April, 2009

Author's note added September, 2009.

According to the PDF document at this website, in 2008, AAA went nowhere in the 18 states into which it was introduced. Those states are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.

In 2009, it was reintroduced in three of those states, Alabama, New Jersey, and New York and it was also introduced into another one state, Georgia. But as of 29 April 2009 it is still showing no signs of life. However, it's apparently not "dead" yet, either.


It's called the Ammunition Accountability Act (AAA). You've got to love the name. It sounds so noble. But remember the great gun writer, Mel Tappan's, universal rule of law: "The nobler the language, the more nefarious the purpose of any legal instrument."

It's been proposed in 18 states and, with some minor difference among them, here's what it will do once enacted:

  • Each box of ammo you buy will have a unique number.

  • Each round in the box will have a laser-etched number on the base of the bullet and on the inside of the cartridge case that corresponds to the number on the box.

  • Each time you buy ammo you will have to show ID with your name, date of birth, driver's license, etc., to be recorded so the box will be tied to you.

  • There will be a 5ยข tax on each and every round in the box. This "tax" will be to support the database.

  • You will have to maintain records if you give or sell ammo to relatives or friends. (And the above tax would be levied on each round, again, to maintain the database.)

  • Anywhere from four months to three years after such bills are enacted, depending on the state, it will be illegal to own any uncoded ammo. There will be civil and criminal penalties if you possess any with fines of anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 for each instance of violation. Ostensibly, this will mean $1,000 to $5,000 per round. Forgot you got an old box of .22 ammo on the back shelf of the closet? And the well-meaning but snoopy babysitter finds it...and turns you in...

  • You're going to have to dump it or shoot it all up. And you'll get no compensation for any of the old ammo you have to dispose of.

  • It will be illegal to reuse cartridge cases, so reloading will not be an option, and you're a criminal if you do.

What's AAA's intent? Ostensibly, crimes committed with a round of the imprinted ammo will be traceable back to the owner and crimes are solved just like that. But criminals already circumvent laws and have access to guns, drugs, and anything else we've tried to outlaw. If you think they won't be able to get untraceable ammo, think again. This law will create a black market for stolen and untraceable ammunition. The only people who are going to obey these Orwellian laws and me. Not surprisingly, most of those in law enforcement do not support this bizarre law.

What will happen to the cost of ammunition? The manufacturers and sellers say the cost of retooling and the ammo processing itself will make ammo prohibitively expensive and put it out of the reach of most citizens. One vendor I spoke with estimates it could raise the price of ammo by as much as 2000 percent. The criminals will not be disarmed by this, but you and I will be.

Who's behind it? Oddly enough, the usual suspects—Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Mothers Against Guns, and others—are nowhere in sight. You'd think they would be. And with 70 to 80 million gun owners in this country, it should be a huge news story, but it's being ignored by the anti-gun media. But the fact is, the gun control people are keeping mum because they want AAA to look like a crime control bill, not the gun control bill it actually is. If you need more evidence consider a post to the ultra-liberal website that, a few months ago, warned, "All we need is for our three gun-grabber Dem senators to go on national TV demanding states pass this bill and we Dems can kiss the presidency good bye in the general election." They understand this is not something most Americans want, and they didn't want to be connected with it at election time.

And just how much support is AAA getting from the general public? If you google "encoded ammunition" you'll find that almost all of the comments are against it. This is not legislation the public is clamoring for, it's legislation the public is overwhelmingly against because it is transparently a sneaky backdoor attempt at gun control.

As of this writing, it's already died in 7 of the 18 state legislatures where it's been introduced, including New York, Rhode Island, and Indiana. They tried to pass this in California, the state that passed microstamping (where all new semiautomatic handguns sold have to microstamp spent cartridges). But it didn't make it out of the legislature. This law is too crazy even for Californians.

If, somehow, AAA passes anywhere, expect it to face constitutional challenges on several fronts, among which will be that it's an obvious effort to nullify the intent of the Second Amendment. It will also be challenged on the basis that it's an ex post facto law (essentially a retroactive law) since its provisions direct that ammunition legally obtained prior to the law would have to be "disposed" of—with no compensation to the owners. It is the danger of ex post facto challenges that have made it necessary for proposed gun-bans to "grandfather" previously owned firearms. But worse is that if it passes the "sniff-test" in any state, expect it to be introduced into the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Though it appears AAA is failing, in the future we have to remain ever-vigilant because the gun control crowd is going to come back again and again and again, like zombies in a grade B horror flick. Bet on it. And expect them to be even more creative the next time.

Read More by John Silveira

Read More Opinion / Commentary

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