April 28, 2005

Just Outside Of America...

Words fail me.

I've seen some idiotic proposals in my time, but this one is unique. Not the worst perhaps, but damn - serial numbers on bullets?

Let me try to break this down for the uninitiated:

A bullet is a projectile made of (usually) lead, copper, steel or a combination of any or all of those metals. It is propelled by very hot high pressure gas down a barrel which is made of either chrome-moly steel or stainless steel. In other words a metal much harder than the bullet is made out of.

Between the hot, high pressure gas & the friction of the bullet traveling down the barrel the bullet tends to deform a bit. The rifling engraves the bullet while the gas will tend to melt the base a little. To what degree deformation occurs depends upon the metal used in the bullet. A pure lead bullet will suffer more than a copper jacketed one.

& that's all before the bullet hits anything.

Many bullets are designed to deform in a certain way when they hit certain media - such as soft fluid filled tissue. The idea is the expansion transfers more energy over a wider area with less risk of over penetration of the target. Short version is the bullet does more damage to the person you're shooting. These bullets deform & fragment starting at the nose of the bullet.

So the sides of the bullet are going to be engraved with the rifling; the base of the bullet gets slightly melted from the hot gas used to propel it & the nose expands & fragments when it strikes something.

Just how the hell do they think a serial number will be legible after all that??? A bullet has it rough to begin with. Now they expect it to have recorded information after it does its job? I can't think of a comparable analogy to adequately express the ridiculousness of the notion.

The practical effects of this? Bullet owner registration at the bullet owners expense.

There's going to be a "fee" for keeping records & it'll be paid by the bullet buyer. It'll also be paid by the bullet seller which will be passed on to the bullet buyer. Finally the bullet makers don't do this for free, so the increased cost will be passed on to....you guessed it - the bullet buyers.

Paying for their own damned registration system.

& let's not forget that some bullet makers are going to figure that the Cali market isn't worth the effort. Decreased availability will equal increased prices. The heathen socialists in the Cali legislature haven't figured out a way to repeal the laws of supply & demand.

But on to a brief fisking of a brief article about a law that's brief in logic.

"A state Senate committee approved a proposal Tuesday to put a serial number on every handgun bullet made or sold in California.
The measure cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-2 vote over opposition from manufacturers, firearms dealers and sport shooters."

A California Public Safety Committee approving a gun control law? That's almost as funny as the ATFU being assigned to the Justice Department.

"The technology exists to laser-cut bullets with a number that police could use to trace who purchased bullets used in crimes, said Democratic sponsor Sen. Joseph Dunn."

The technology to engrave a serial number into a bullet has existed for close to 100 years. Let's say 50 for mass produced bullets. But it'll suffer the same problems as a bullet so engraved 50 or 100 years ago would - slim chance of being able to read the damned number after it is fired.

But Dunn. That's a name that every Californian should remember. & every oppurtunity you get you should shun him, publicly or privately.

This won't help cops trace the owner of bullets used in crimes. It will create more hassle for gun owners who want to buy their bullets legally. It simply won't be an effective crime fighting tool as the bullet is subject to much deformation through its intended use. It will be effective in making things more difficult for gun owners who don't intend anyone any harm, as all prior restraint based gun control laws are.

"Purchasers would pay up to a half a cent per bullet to fund record-keeping by the state Department of Justice. Vendors would pay up to $50 a year."

To start. That should be added or at least not forgotten. It'll start off as half a cent per bullet but once those heathens figure out what they're doing they'll use it to make bullets as expensive as possible.

But while that half cent may not seem like much to some (though Kim du Toit would shudder at such a notion) that doesn't include the hidden costs that will be passed along to the bullet buyers. I'd assume off the top of my head that it'll be closer to 1 to 2 cents per bullets more. & that's without the supply & demand thing discussed earlier figured in. & that's just to start. I have no doubt there will be a "fee" increase.

"We'll solve a lot of crimes if this becomes law,' said Attorney General Bill Lockyer."

Lockyer. If you're a Californian & you socialize or do business of any sort with that bastard then you might as well burn all your arms right now.

In theory it would seem logical that it would solve crimes. But that's only if the theory doesn't take into account the usual deformation that bullets are subject to in normal use. In theory passing a law requiring criminals to have their minds read by a cop would solve a lot of crimes - if it were possible. But mind reading just isn't a practical reality & neither is this scheme.

"If approved by the Legislature, the law would take effect in July 2007."

So a little over two years to stock up or make an escape attempt.

I have little faith that sanity will prevail & this bill will be voted down. I have less faith that the Head Rino In Charge of Cali will veto it once it lands on his desk.

Look, say what you will about this registration scheme or that registration scheme being okey dokey - but this will net every gun owner in Cali who doesn't have a few years worth of reserve practice ammo. Ammo registration is possibly the most effective means of registering gun owners. If you buy ammo then you will be registered. If you don't buy ammo odds are you don't practice enough to be more than a minimal threat.

A lot of people will think this is a harmless, though slightly inconvenient law. But there's much sinister potential in this - registration of bullet owners (i.e. gun owners) being one. A vehicle to make shooting cost prohibitive is another.

Again, the only reason I can possibly see to stay in Cali would be to set up resistance cells.

Posted by Publicola at April 28, 2005 03:13 AM

>Look, say what you will about this registration >scheme or that registration scheme being okey dokey >- but this will net every gun owner in Cali who >doesn't have a few years worth of reserve practice >ammo.

Actually, from my understanding, once the law takes affect then a resident cannot leave their house with non-serialized ammo as it would be a felony. So stocking up does no good.

Posted by: Stace at April 28, 2005 09:19 AM

Someone on one of the mailing lists I get said that this bill has been submitted every year for the past few years and has never managed to get passed. Doesn't mean it won't pass this time, though...

It would be nice if someone started selling in California, before the ban, bullets for reloaders engraved with "Joseph Dunn" and "Bill Lockyer". This would be an entertaining way to make it clear to each of these guys that there's a bullet with his name on it.

Posted by: Bill St. Clair at April 28, 2005 10:43 AM

As I read it, the bill would make non serialized bullets illegal to possess unless you're investigating it in a lab, you're a cop, etc.

Absurd. Damned absurd. Though, if it failed to pass with Davis at the desk, we may be alright. Schwarzenegger banned the .50, but he vetoed two other anti-gun bills that were quite odious.

Today I write letters.

Posted by: Scott Ganz at April 28, 2005 01:01 PM

From where I'm sitting, it seems that it is getting nigh near impossible to be law abiding and be a gun owner in California. The powers that be there are determined to ban guns or failing that, make it so cost prohibitive that they may as well be banned. As far as this stupid bullet bill, what the ammo makers should do is to take a card from Ronnie Barrett's desk. They should refuse to sell ammo to California, including law enforcement, if this stupid idea becomes law.

Posted by: Yosemite Sam at April 29, 2005 08:08 AM

The original newspaper article didn't do a very good job of objectively analyzing the consequiences of enactment of this bill.

It includes fees, fines and the possibility of imprisonment of honest citizens.

It not only applies to bullets, but to ammunition. And the serial number on the bullet must match the serial number on the 'ammunition'. There is no express provision for allowing the serial number of the bullet to define the serial number of the ammunition.

The serial number of the bullet will probably be engraved on the base of the bullet. That means it's is impossible to check the serial number of the bullet in loaded ammunition without 'deconstructing' the cartridge.

Each box of ammunition must be marked with the serial number of the ammunition it encloses. Each box of ammunition must have an UNIQUE serial number. That means that bullet manufacturers can MAKE more than, say, 50 bullets with the same serial number, but ammunition manufacturers can't SELL more than 50 bullets as part of a 'serialized lot' of ammunition.

There are no exceptions for private ammunition reloaders ... those of us who reload our own ammunition. We have to follow the same strict rules (including filling out forms and marking the ammunition containers with the serial numbers of the enclosed bullets/ammunition) as do commercial reloaders.

MUCH more insight can be gained by reading the text of the actual bill. For details, and for comments comparing with this bill bill with Danial Patrick Moynihan's 1999 "tax ammunition at 1000%" federal bill, see the Cogito Ergo Geek blogspot or go directly to:

Posted by: Jerry the Geek at May 1, 2005 10:21 PM

There has to be something positive in this:

1. A whole new industry will open up to engrave
(worthless) serial numbers on bullets.
2. Thousands of former Silicon Valley workers will be re-trained to operate electric pencils (stamping the numbers with a ball peen hammer and a stamp is out I think) to scratch numbers on bullets.
3. Hospitals and health care will blossom in
Kalifornia as a social-ist workers paradise care heaven with all the blown up serial numberers... oh wait, numbers BEFORE the gunpowder is put in and DON'T number the primers... right.
4. Kalifornia Kops will have to have numbered
bullets also, no matter what the law says, so the bullet that kills or injures anyone, anywhere, doing anything, has to be traceable to the Kop who fired. Strictly for immediate criminal prosecution for possessing and using a firearm you understand. Oh and the inevitable personal lawsuit from the victim, family, or any lawyer in 100 miles.
5. Since ammunition companies will (should) stop
selling ammunition to Kalifornia Kops right away, this will provide a Marxist (social workers) disarmed paradise.

All the like-minded people will move there. Then
the criminals will establish control since they have bullets.

Posted by: Outlaw3 at May 3, 2005 06:24 AM

When the FBI tested 500 rounds of coded ammunition, only 5% of the codes were unreadable.

This technology does work.

It's not a perfect system, just a step in the right direction.

Posted by: John Anderson at July 7, 2005 10:29 PM

As a professional firearms examiner who has had dealings with the F.B.I., I must tell you they can produce any results they want under a controlled set of circumstances. What you get in the real world is a whole different animal. All bullets expand somewhat as they travel down a barrel and when fired into a water tank for recovery only handgun and low powered rifle bullets do not deform significantly. Even so many handgun loads still shed their jackets and high powered rifle bullets usually deform significantly. All in a controlled enviroment. Without perfect conditions of the lab, the bullets that the ballistics labs in the real world get are generally mangled and deformed, rendering the bullet I.D.ing useless.

Posted by: A rational lawman at July 26, 2005 06:10 PM
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