It’s all about the ammunition.
"Guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people."
The wave of gun violence washing through the United States is horrific.
The killing of countless innocents, many of them young people, has gripped the headlines.
Shootings in urban centers like Chicago and New York escalate — daily.
No one is safe.
And no solutions to this devastating, shocking phenomenon of rampant murder will emerge, that is, until new ideas are developed and implemented; until we abandon old cliches, while shelving the debate when it falls divisively along established party lines.
Newer and more creative ideas and suggestions are needed.
I believe, federal regulation of ammunition sales tops them all.
Less ammo, fewer shootings, fewer funerals.
Important axioms need to be laid out in order to proceed.
These lessons are neither hard to convey nor difficult to learn.
For example: The Second Amendment, one of the most bandied about of all 27 Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, is quite clear and concise.
For it speaks of a militia, but it also protects Americans' right to bear arms.
As written, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
The vast majority, in fact, the overwhelming majority, of all gun violence is not perpetrated by the hands of licensed weapons’ owners and their legally obtained weapons.
The violence crippling our country is the work of those nefarious sorts brandishing illegal, unlicensed, weapons.
Legally licensed guns are registered by each state.
There is no national registry.
The 1986 legislation entitled The Firearms Owners Protection Act made prevents a national registry. There are approximately 600 million legally purchased and licensed weapons in the United States today.
These weapons, all 600 million of them, will remain in the possession of their owners. They will never be confiscated by the government.
It's unconstitutional; even raising the issue is a non-starter.
To slow down the wave of street shootings and its partner in crime — violence resulting in the maiming and murder of human beings in municipalities across the U.S. — ammunition must be regulated just as guns are regulated.
Or, at least, are regulated when legally purchased.
Illegal guns use the same ammunition as do legal guns and yet, there is almost no monitoring of who buys ammo and how much they buy.
There are federal laws preventing the transport of ammunition from state to state.
There is a minimum age requirement for the purchase of ammo.
Howrver, only six of the 50 states in the U.S. require an ID in order to purchase ammunition.
Ironic, I know, but Illinois and New York — two of the states with the highest number of illegal gun violence, are among those six states.
The others are New Jersey, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
The best of them is Massachusetts which requires a person to show their Firearm Identification Card (FID) when purchasing ammo.
They actually have two categories of such cards — "Class A" for firing large capacity weapons and "Class B" for firing smaller capacity weapons.
Applicants must submit fingerprints and undergo a national criminal background check and the State of Massachusetts must permit the application within 40 days or give an explanation for why it was rejected.
When the Second Amendment was drafted, a bullet was simply a round ball.
Powder was packed and the bullet was propelled by an explosion caused when the hammer of the gun struck flint, sending the ball down the barrel.
- Times have changed.
- Weapons have changed.
- Bullets have changed.
An often overlooked but important fact is that certain types of ammunition are already illegal to own or purchase in many states already.
The ammo falling into that category includes hollow point bullets and armor piercing bullets. The logic behind making those bullets illegal is that they directly endanger the lives and limbs of police.
Federal law already prevents the sale of ammo to anyone who is believed by the merchant to be under the age of 18. Federal law also prevents anyone who is the subject of a domestic violence restraining order from buying ammo.
A convicted felon is also not permitted to buy ammo.
These laws are on the books, yet in most of the nation, no background checks are required.
No fingerprints, not even a photo ID, and certainly, no logs or records are required to be maintained with names or addresses of purchasers of ammo.
There are far fewer ammunition manufacturers then gun makers.
There are 23 companies in the U.S. and only six are market biggies.
It would be a simple task to monitor and to tweak ammo production, certainly relative to other regulated industries. In order to import or manufacture ammunition one needs a permit.
Not the case with sales. It baffles the mind. It needs to be corrected, updated, changed.
Requiring a picture ID or an ammunition license would put a name, a face and an address on each bullet purchase.
Putting a face to a purchase will immediately eliminate the nefarious nameless thugs who hide their deals.
It would make it more difficult for those with evil intent to perform their dastardly deeds.
Bullet manufacturers already label their lots, this would just require them to fine tune their labeling. Unlike guns, ammunition has a very short life — if ammo is old, it becomes dangerous to use.
The bottom line?
The Constitution does not protect ammo. And to all those doubters, naysayers and pessimists, I am convinced that regulating ammunition would survive a challenge before the United States Supreme Court.
Almost none of the gun violence tearing appart our nation's cities and streets streets is perpetrated by legal gun owners; citizens who gladly and daily follow the rules.
Thus, law abiding citizens who will most likely adhere to a new set of protocols designed to keep them, their families, their neighborhoods all safe.
Legal owners of weapons (and there has been a huge spike among first-time gun owners and women since violence escalated and police were defunded) are horrified at the senseless loss of life.
They are stunned when painted with the same brush applied to lawless gun owners and gun users, stunned when they are labelled irresponsible.
Regulating and registering ammunition is just like registering guns. Only better.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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