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Gun control: Close the bullet buyer loophole?

June 17, 2013|By Paul Thornton
  • A bill in California would require buyers of bullets to get a license and undergo a background check. Above: a box of .45 caliber ammunition.
A bill in California would require buyers of bullets to get a license and… (Scott Olson / Getty Images )

Santa Monica shooter John Zawahri was prevented some years ago from buying a firearm, but that didn't stop the gunman with a history of mental illness from killing five people this month in a 10-minute shooting rampage. In his column today, The Times' George Skelton notes that the shooter sprayed 100 rounds of ammunition from his home-assembled weapons and had access to 1,200 more.

So where gun control failed to stop a troubled man from using a deadly weapon, Skelton wrote, bullet control could have. "Guns don't kill people. Bullets do," Skelton observed.

Not so fast, letter writers say.

All but one of the readers who have responded to Skelton so far bristle at his endorsement of a bill in the state Legislature to license and put through background checks anyone in California who wants to buy bullets. They contend that such a law would be futile attempt to neutralize would-be criminals while inconveniencing the rest of us.

Most letters -- in fact, almost all letters -- we receive on gun control favor tighter restrictions on the sale of firearms (and one such letter will likely run in tomorrow's paper). So it is notable that so far the response to Skelton's column skews in the other direction.

Here is a selection of those letters.

Douglas O. McGoon III of Claremont says gun-control laws target the wrong people:

"As a law-abiding citizen who is neither crazy nor a criminal, I suggest that legislators make anyone who falls into these categories the focus of any new laws.

"Register felons, not law-abiding citizens. Treat psychotics and register them. Why should law-abiding citizens have to 'register' -- that is, to pay for a background check to buy a gun or ammunition?

"California's laws can't keep unlicensed or uninsured drivers off our streets. How effective will requiring law-abiding gun owners to go through additional checks and registrations keep guns and ammunition out of criminal hands?"

Santa Barbara resident Craig Whan doesn't want to empower criminals:

"Skelton's column about ending the so-called bullet-buying loophole makes a valid point. 

"The current fusillade of anti-gun legislation in Sacramento aimed at law-abiding citizens is meant to be so encumbering for Californians that, as a result, only criminals will be armed and loaded. 

"I feel safer already."

Charles Rozner of Northridge offers the perspective of the "inconvenienced":

"Skelton ended his opinion piece by saying, 'It might slightly inconvenience gun owners. But their inconvenience is trumped by saving lives'

"It is always easy to inconvenience people when you are not going to be inconvenienced. The gun debate is a very emotional issue because incidents such as the Santa Monica shooting and other mass killings are very dramatic. But on the same day as that rampage, I am sure that more people were killed in car accidents.

"If you have watched any NASCAR race, you may have seen drivers walk away from horrific accidents. This is because roll cages and special seat belts and helmets are required. If people were really interested in saving lives, perhaps we should mandate these things for all passenger cars. After all, the inconveniences from the extra effort and increased costs are trumped by saving lives.

"Of course, this would inconvenience everyone -- including the people who don't own guns but want to impose onerous laws on others."

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