Now They Want a Permit for Ammo, Too?
Ammo permit measure weighed
Matt Dees, Staff Writer
DURHAM - Gun owners looking to reload would have to show a permit every time they buy ammunition, if a bill backed by Durham officials gains state approval.
The proposal championed by the Rev. Melvin Whitley, a local community activist, will face opposition from gun-rights groups.
Whitley told state lawmakers and Durham City Council members Monday that anyone over 18 can buy ammunition without being subject to any background check. That means felons, who aren't allowed to own guns or ammo, can buy bullets unfettered.
Requiring a permit to buy bullets, just as the state does for firearms, is a "no-brainer," he said.
"It's a wonder we have not identified this loophole in the past," Whitley told council members.
But Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun-rights lobbying group, called the idea "ludicrous."
Felons with the means and determination to obtain a gun illegally wouldn't have any trouble finding a way around the bullet-permit law, Valone said.
"The only people this would restrict is law-abiding gun owners," Valone said.
"We will be happy to defeat this bill and any legislator who supports it."
Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat, expects such stiff opposition. The bill hasn't been introduced, but Michaux said it would be soon in one or both chambers of the General Assembly.
Michaux supports the idea.
But he said the bill has "about the same chance as getting a ban on handguns in this state. We've been outnumbered over the years by the strong arm of the [National Rifle Association]."
Illinois has a similar law, enacted in 1968. It requires people to apply for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card that must be displayed when buying a firearm or ammunition.
It costs $5 and is valid for five years.
There are about 1.2 million card holders in the state, according to the Illinois State Police Web site.
Even supporters have questions about logistics.
Ron Hodge, deputy chief of the Durham Police Department, said it wouldn't be hard to issue a bullet card with a handgun permit. The trouble would come with people who already have obtained their handgun permit having to go through another permitting process, Hodge said.
That would be cumbersome for the agency distributing the permits -- likely county sheriffs -- and for legal gun owners, he said.
Whitley said any inconveniences are trumped by the need to add another hurdle in the path of violent criminals.
"It's the bullets that are hurting us," he said.
Staff writer Matt Dees can be reached at 956-2433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.