Bad legislation, even if it’s well-intentioned, is still bad legislation.
And so it is with a proposal by two downstate state lawmakers to limit the purchase of ammunition to twice a gun's registered capacity every 90 days.
The effort, they say, is designed to prevent the "blood-soaked carnage of mass shootings made possible by the calculated and unrestricted stockpiling of thousands of deadly ammunition rounds."
And who in their right mind is in favor of "blood-soaked carnage?"
We've been strong advocates of reasonable gun control measures to reduce gun deaths. the key word here being “reasonable.” We've argued that it's reasonable to prevent those on terrorist no-fly lists, the mentally ill and convicted violent offenders from purchasing weapons. It's reasonable to require background checks for all purchasers and registration of all weapons so police can track guns that are stolen or used in crimes.
But it's not reasonable to limit people who legally purchase and register guns from having a reasonable number of bullets on hand that are necessary for them to use those weapons in self-defense or to practice with them.
Some people who go target shooting use hundreds of rounds of ammunition at a single outing. Are these lawmakers saying that someone who owns a pistol with a 7-shot capacity can only purchase 14 bullets every three months? How are they supposed to practice with only 14 bullets? Can you even purchase 14 bullets? Don't these things come in boxes of 250 or 500? What if you fired your 14 bullets over the first two months and needed to resupply your gun to protect your home for the next month? You couldn't do it, legally.
If you violate the law, under this proposal, you could go to prison for up to four years. Does that sound reasonable?
There's a greater downside from such legislation aside from the gross impracticality of such an absurd limit. The ban plays right into the hands of those who argue that liberals want to take all their gun rights away. Even worse yet, it threatens to alienate the millions of legitimate registered gun-owners who support reasonable gun control measures but who still want to have the right to use their guns lawfully. Lumping target shooters in with those intent on wreaking "blood-soaked carnage" is counterproductive to the entire argument of reasonable gun control.
And in the end, it won't stop the motivated terrorist from stocking up on bullets for his illegal assault weapon anyway.
Supporters of the bill say that they see this limit as a starting point for discussion. But reasonable discussion requires a reasonable starting point from which to begin. Otherwise, the other side won't even come to the table.
Well intentioned as this proposed law might be, this legislation goes too far.