A Mississippi legislator is pushing for more transparent recordkeeping for buyers and sellers of ammunition. House Bill 231, proposed by Rep. Omeria Scott (D-District 80) calls for purchasers of ammunition to fill out personal details including their name and social security number.
“Every merchant, dealer or pawnbroker that sells pistol or rifle cartridges, shall keep a record of all sales of such cartridges sold, showing the description of the kind and caliber of cartridges so sold, the name, address and driver’s license or social security number of the purchaser, and the description of and the quantity of cartridges and date of sale,” the bill reads.
This portion of the bill seems like a logical effort to keep track of ammunition sales in case that ammunition is used unlawfully, similar to the states requiring personal info for the purchase of drugs such as Sudafed, which can be used for the production of methamphetamine.
While this could be viewed as an honest attempt to curb unlawful gun violence by allowing police to revisit the records should a crime occur, the bill also states that “this record shall be open to public inspection at any time to persons desiring to see it.” This sentence represents the severe infringement on individual rights that the bill would allow, as it means that the personal identification information of gun owners would be accessible to the public at any time.
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The bill is also largely viewed by critics as a form of de facto gun registration for firearm owners throughout the state. According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, “no state permit is required for the purchase of any rife, shotgun or handgun,” and “no state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun.” Lawmakers like Scott likely view ammunition registration as a work-around of the state’s liberal gun laws. If a gunowner buys a certain type of ammunition, it’s relatively easy to ascertain what type of firearm that individual possesses.
While the bill has several additional provisions that could potentially have beneficial outcomes, such as the prohibition of ammunition sales to minors and intoxicated individuals, overall it would lead to an unnecessary invasion of personal privacy. Mississippi’s gun laws are worthy of consideration for reform, but Scott’s bill is unlikely to be the answer.