SB357: California's Guns Into Paperweights Act

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

January 2006



“SB 357, as amended, Dunn, would require, commencing January 1, 2009, that handgun ammunition be serialized. The bill would specify the nature of the serialization and provide various exceptions to certain prohibitions in the bill. Manufacture and transfer of non-serialized handgun ammunition after that date would be an offense, as specified.”

California Penal Code

12323. As used in this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a) "Handgun ammunition" means ammunition principally for use in pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 12001, notwithstanding that the ammunition may also be used in some rifles.  

As of this writing, SB357, although temporarily set aside in 2005, could still run the gauntlet of California’s legislative process later this year or next and if passed, could turn Californians’ handguns and rifles that use handgun caliber ammunition, into paperweights while it puts the state’s finances further in the hole.  How is that colonel?  Guns without bullets become hunks of steel; useful for holding down paper or as displays in some lunatic museum dutifully reminding everyone of California’s “barbaric period.”

Hopefully, California’s SB357 will be deservedly dead one day and soon—killed by the severe outrage of the more sensible folks in California.  However, such diseased ideas like this have a tendency to spread to other states controlled by gun hating politicians so watch out, this idiocy could spill over into many other backyards at some point.

As many have seen on the Wire, this insane bill requires every hand gun caliber bullet to be stamped with an individual identification number!  Why?  “Crime control” says one.  “For the Children” says another. “Common sense” says yet another.  But let’s look at this issue in several underlying ways to see how riddled with holes and perhaps unintended consequences it actually is. 

In my opinion and this is only my opinion, a law must pass three tests in order to be acceptable.  #1 it must be good law—well written, enforceable and constitutional.  #2 it must be effective and useful—it must serve the public good or fill a real need. #3 it must be fair. Legally speaking, this law may pass muster regarding #1—all the legal T’s crossed and I’s dotted, all words spelled correctly and good grammar used throughout.  It may even be in accord with California’s Constitution but it doesn’t pass the smell test where #2 and #3 are concerned.  Let’s do a little common sense analysis of our own on that score then you judge for yourself. 

The Business Case:  The proposed bill would compel manufacturers to extensively re-tool their hand gun caliber operation in order to stamp those sequential numbers on every single round.  How expensive do you think this might be and given this would only be applicable to one state out of fifty—for now—what do you expect the return on investment would be for the manufacturer?  It would simply make the manufacture and distribution of this ammunition excessively more expensive, tremendously complex and extremely vulnerable to violations leaving manufacturers open to California fines and lawsuits.  The bill also prohibits the importation of like ammunition into the state that is not in compliance with California law.  What manufacturer will want to disrupt his entire business unit leaving themselves vulnerable to California legal action in order to comply with that one state’s asinine law?  I think they could very justifiably write off California as the more prudent business decision.   

The Revenue Case: Let’s face it, if passed as proposed, this bill will seriously cripple many a shooting sport in California.  And what effects will that have other than being a prime example of the anti-American trend sweeping the country these days?  My guess is that the shooting sports in California bring millions of dollars in revenue to the state each year—private enterprise as well as in taxes.  Not just in the purchase of guns and ammunition alone but in all the ancillary costs associated with shooting.  Just look at our own sport as one example.  All that cowboy gear, shirts, pants suspenders, spurs, canteens and other accessories have to purchased somewhere.  And what about the revenue associated with hotels, campsite rentals, restaurants, food, gas, and so on.  Now if much of that went away because this politically engineered shortage of hand gun ammunition made shooting all but impossible, does anyone think for a second the minuscule $.005 charge per round tax would or could ever off-set the difference lost in sales tax alone?  So just from a revenue stand point this makes no sense.

The Crime Case: Now let’s look at it from a common sense view point where “crime control” is concerned.  In that regard, I would once again ask my favorite simple straight forward question of those who support this bill as a crime control measure.  Do any of you in Sacramento believe for one fleeting moment that those inclined to ignore laws against murder, robbery, rape, assault etc will be deterred from those crimes because they feel held bound by laws requiring the use of registered ammunition so police could easily trace it!?!    This is akin to gun registration but more complex.  Those who ignore the laws pertaining to egregious felonies won’t be deterred for one second by laws requiring the registration of their guns or ammunition.  To think this will in any way have an impact on reducing or tracing criminal behavior, I have some gold plated bullchips I’d like to sell you.  The only thing this will do for crime is to make law abiding citizens more likely to become criminals—vulnerable to arrest and prosecution for inadvertent violations.  Keep in mind, those law abiding citizens aren’t the ones committing the murders, robberies or assaults and those that are committing such crimes will never be restrained or abide by this phony law.  So you tell me Mr/Ms California Politician, how does this make any sense whatsoever as a crime control measure?

Now let’s consider…

The Real Case:  Since lawsuits against gun manufacturers didn’t work out quite as planned, the assault weapons ban went by the way, SASS, NRA, GOA and others raised enough dust to prevent many direct attacks on guns themselves, it now appears gun haters intend to castrate millions of guns through draconian restrictions on the ammunition.  Less ammunition = more paperweights.   Make no mistake; the old indirect approach is hard at work here my friends.

The not so subtle intent behind this is to obviously render these guns useless or reduce their use to a more “manageable trickle” and still be able to spout the political line that “we politicians didn’t outlaw such guns at all.” How obvious!  This could be another Hollywood film with a catchy title like Sleepless in Seattle but called Transparent in Sacramento.

Think of the liberal response concerning the inevitable consequences of SB357 this way; imagine a man accused of murdering his wife through dehydration defends himself by stating, “But your honor, I didn’t murder her, I just severely restricted her access to water—she died on her own".  And the good folks of California are expected to buy such transparent tripe?  Bull Chips!!!

Just the view from my saddle…

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