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ID for ammo

The governor should sign legislation requiring ID and a thumbprint to purchase handgun ammo.

October 01, 2009

Law-abiding Californians must provide a thumbprint to renew their driver's licenses. It's perhaps a nuisance, but worth it in to order to combat identity theft, track criminals and keep unsafe drivers off the road. To buy a product containing pseudoephedrine, cold sufferers need to ask a retailer to grab it from behind the counter or to open the locked case. Overly intrusive? Hardly, especially considering how much of the stuff used to be shoplifted, a dozen boxes at a time, to supply home meth labs. Grocers, bartenders and others who sell or serve alcohol must demand identification from people who look like they may be underage. It's more ritual than burdensome governmental dictate, and a reasonable step to keep youths from boozing up.

So why would Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger block a very reasonable requirement that people present ID and leave a thumbprint when buying handgun ammunition? Let's hope he won't. The governor should sign AB 962 and give law enforcement statewide the same useful tool in fighting crime and gang violence that Los Angeles police currently have.

The bill, by Assemblyman Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), would require anyone selling handgun bullets to check a buyer's identification, take a thumbprint and make the records available on request to police. There would be no waiting period; leave your print, show your ID as the vendor records the information, take your bullets and go. Ammunition would have to be held behind the counter or in some other shop-lift resistant place, just like pseudoephedrine.

The bill also would require that mail-order or Internet sales of bullets follow the same requirements now in place in California for guns: Sales are allowed, but delivery must be made to a retailer, where the same ID and thumbprint procedure applies.

A broader Los Angeles law has helped police investigate gang shootings, allowing them to identify the people who bought the ammunition and either passed it to criminals or used it themselves. But many smaller cities in the region don't have such laws, so bullets from elsewhere continue to load the guns of L.A. criminals.

By the way, it's now legal to sell bullets to a felon; De Leon's bill would prohibit such sales.

It's almost embarrassing how modest the bill is, yet Schwarzenegger is being pressured by GOP lawmakers, who in turn are being pressured by gun-rights groups. That's shameful. In ostensibly defending the right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms, gun advocates are ensuring that crime remains convenient for criminals, and that anti-gun sentiment continues to get a boost from police and the communities they serve.

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