You can't talk about controlling gun violence without getting shot down. Or threatened. Or dismissed as a liberal hater of the Second Amendment.
Yet there is an ammunition ordinance in the city of Sacramento that is working.
The ordinance targets criminals, not law-abiding citizens. It doesn't take guns out of the hands of honest people. It requires an electronic thumb print from those who purchase handgun ammunition, rifle ammunition and some shotgun ammunition. (Hunters buying bird ammunition are exempt.)
On Tuesday, Sacramento police arrested a 27-year-old woman who allegedly purchased two different types of handgun ammunition at two different stores. The woman is on probation for burglary, said Capt. Jim Maccoun of the Sacramento Police Department.
As a convicted felon, it would be against the law for her to possess ammunition. Maccoun said a follow-up investigation turned up three semiautomatic weapons, more than an ounce of crystal methamphetamine, 900 Ecstasy pills and a boyfriend who was on probation for armed robbery. Both were booked Tuesday on weapons and drug charges, Maccoun said.
Between Jan. 16, 2008, and Aug. 31, 2009, Sacramento's ammunition ordinance led to 181 people being charged with a felony and the indictment of 14 suspects in federal court.
"We'd rather catch these people buying the ammunition than after they have used the ammunition," said District Attorney Jan Scully.
"It's had a pretty significant impact," said police Chief Rick Braziel.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has until midnight Sunday to sign an ammunition bill that would require thumb prints for the purchase of handgun ammunition statewide
In truth, the ammo bill Schwarzenegger is considering is a popgun in the battle against armed criminals. Yet as modest as it is, it's been assailed by the gun lobby.
Sacramento's law is tougher, but Maccoun admits they are catching "dumb criminals." Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said "the vast majority" of criminals get their ammo illegally.
Still, what's wrong with trying to restrict felons - even if it's a modest effort? City Councilman Kevin McCarty got the city ordinance passed in August 2007 - making him a target for those who claim he's attacking the Second Amendment.
"Some guy verbally assaulted me in front of my wife and children," McCarty said. His e-mails have been scathing.
Maccoun said store owners are not being hassled by police -- only felons are. Sacramento's success should provide a model.
If Schwarzenegger says no, you have to wonder if the Second Amendment has become a shield for felons.
And why even the most modest stabs at curbing gun violence get killed with extreme prejudice.