By Tom Knighton
Published:May 3, 2021
Ammo control is an idea that, as best as I can tell, started with a joke from comedian Chris Rock. He had a bit where he said that if ammo cost $5,000 per round, you’d stop seeing drive-by shootings. He may have a point. I mean, if you had to pay that much per round, you’re going to make damn sure the person you shoot is the person you meant to shoot.
But, of course, it’s a comedy bit.
More and more, though, some seem to have taken Rock seriously.
For example, the state of California has enacted ammo control. It’s been something of a trainwreck, but they did it. Now, some are pushing for still more of this kind of thing.
With so much carnage, it is also easy to lose hope. Gun control can seem pointless given the number of guns already on the streets. And here in Florida, lawmakers seem intent on flooding every area of public life with firearms. The Legislature just passed a measure to allow people with concealed weapons licenses to pack heat at churches that share properties with schools, of all places.
Reform-minded Americans shouldn’t give up. But stopping gun violence might require a change in strategy. Instead of gun control, ammo control is another option. The National Rifle Association might have a point when it says that “guns don’t kill people” — after all, it’s the bullets they fire that do the damage.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Sunrise, first proposed requiring background checks for ammunition sales in 2018, after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Background checks are required to prevent people convicted of felonies and domestic abuse from making most gun purchases, but there are no checks on buying bullets.
The legislation is known as “Jaime’s law” in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, who was 14 years old when she was killed in Parkland. Wasserman Schultz announced last month that the bill was being reintroduced during a virtual press conference where she was joined by Jaime’s father, Fred Guttenberg.
“I should be watching Jaime live out her best senior year, right now, getting ready to graduate, attend prom and go to college,” Guttenberg said. “But instead we’re watching as others are living off these milestones and we’re wondering why haven’t we done anything about gun violence yet.”
Of course, the idea here is that ammo control will somehow stop violent crime.
What’s not mentioned is how Guttenberg’s daughter was killed by a guy who passed his background check because the sheriff’s office didn’t bother to arrest him on the plethora of domestic violence calls they responded to. He would have passed a background check for ammo as well.
Nor is there any acknowledgement that if you try to regulate ammo, criminals will just find a different source for it. Either they’ll get straw buyers–which will be even easier to pull off since ammo isn’t serialized and it’s consumable anyway–to obtain it for them.
Some are thinking this is a route around the Second Amendment, I’m sure. If so, they need to disabuse themselves of that notion. The right to keep and bear arms implies that you also have the means to use those arms effectively. That includes things like ammunition.
But they’ll keep on trying, won’t they?