“If you can’t grab their guns, get their ammo!” That’s apparently the newest gun control approach popping up in state legislatures across the country under the heading of “bullet serialization.”
Advertised by the antis as a way to stop crime, bullet serialization is actually an unproven technology, which, if mandated, would increase the cost of ammunition exponentially, cause ammo making to grind to a near halt–and probably not catch a single criminal.
Serialization is supposed to work this way: a laser engraves every bullet manufactured with a serial number; records kept by manufacturers and retailers show where the bullets are sold and to whom; and bullets recovered at crime scenes can be traced to the buyer. Sounds almost logical. Yet the potential problems with serialization are staggering for shooters and the ammunition industry.
According to Ted Novin, public relations director for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “Ammunition manufacturers could not serialize their product without hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment to build the new factories that would be needed in order to meet the requirements of bullet serialization.”
Add in massive administrative expenditures (not only for the manufacturers, but for retailers who would have to keep track of every round sold and forward that information to law enforcement), and NSSF estimates a round of centerfire ammunition currently costing 30 to 50 cents retail could run $2 to $3–each.
“That’s a de facto ban on ammunition,” Novin says.
“Serializing ammunition on a mass production basis is simply not feasible or practical,” says Valerie Peters of Winchester Ammunition. “In fact, ammunition encoding technology is completely unproven, as it has never been implemented at any major ammunition manufacturing facility. We also believe that if passed, ammunition encoding legislation would ultimately create production delays that could severely handicap Winchester’s ability to compete and to supply key customers, including the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies.”
“No criminal is going to go into a gun store and purchase the kind of ammunition that is going to leave a trail going right back to them,” says Ashley Varner, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. There’s not a single scientific study showing serialization might actually work as a law enforcement tool, Varner adds.
The NRA, NSSF and the ammunition industry are taking serialization very seriously. At least 10 states have such legislation in various stages of consideration: Arizona, Hawaii (three bills), Illinois (five bills), Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York (three bills), Tennessee (two bills) and Washington.
The idea of catching criminals via engraving seems to have captured the imagination of uninformed lawmakers–to the delight of gun controllers.