Editorial: Ammunition sales should be checked statewide
Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009
In 2008, the first year after the Sacramento City Council approved an ordinance requiring local gun dealers to record driver's license numbers and thumbprints of people who purchase ammunition, police were able to track 229 illegal ammunition purchases.
Some 173 convicted felons were among prohibited purchasers, including two people who had been in prison for murder and seven who had active restraining orders against them for domestic violence.
Of those 229 cases, 136 ended in criminal convictions. More importantly, scores of illegal guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were taken from convicted criminals who were not supposed to have them.
Based on the success in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland and other cities that have enacted similar ammunition registration ordinances, Los Angeles Assemblyman Kevin de León is hoping the governor will sign Assembly Bill 962. The proposed law would require all ammunition retailers in the state to get state identification and fingerprints from their customers.
This is a common-sense law-and-order measure. Convicted felons, people with violent mental health histories or domestic violence restraining orders against them are barred from possessing both firearms and ammunition. There are laws in place that require identity checks and waiting periods for gun purchases, but no such prevention measures guard against illegal ammunition purchases. That's a dangerous loophole the de León bill would close.
Schwarzenegger rejected a similar bill in 2004. In his veto message, he said because the federal government had already determined that ammunition registration "was simply unworkable and offered no public benefit."
The experience in Sacramento and elsewhere around the state shows he's wrong. AB 962 won't end gun violence, but it will make it harder for criminals to get ammunition. The governor should heed the advice of police chiefs in Oakland, Los Angeles and Sacramento and sign it.