SSAA-LA Ammo-marking debate still missing the mark

An international push to introduce individual ammunition marking standards in a bid to improve crime-tracing efforts is a distraction measure with little practical application. The concept of introducing such controls has been debated in the international arms community for more than a decade as this latest push stems from United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, an autonomous institute within the UN which is behind a discussion paper to investigate the feasibility of marking small-calibre ammunition.

The discussion paper explores marking ammunition with stamping, laser marking or chemical taggants either individually or by combining several of these methods and aims to provide information to other groups within the UN, inform the international community on the potential that marking could have in reducing firearm crime and process for a consistent marking standard to be developed and recommended internationally.

The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia is strongly opposed to the concept of marking individual ammunition cases for a number of reasons and is formulating an official response to be provided to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. The scope of this discussion paper is narrowly focused on the feasibility of marking methods alone though researchers do point to issues which may arise if the process of implementing such an initiative was to go ahead.

Firearm owners are some of the most regulated members of the community who comply with numerous levels of licensing and checks to own and maintain firearms, to participate in target shooting and recreational hunting. Introducing individual marking measures would only result in exposing this segment of society to further checks and balances and deflect the focus from addressing the criminal element as the root cause of this issue.

Not only would this type of standard negatively impact firearm owners, the industry and Australia’s firearms and licensing system, ammunition manufacturers and potentially retailers being required to log heavily detailed purchase information would also be affected. It’s likely a majority of firearm owners have experienced delays with their state or territory’s firearms and licensing systems and we can only imagine how the structure would buckle with this added layer of regulation.

The widespread practice of reloading ammunition and reusing empty cartridges is blatantly dismissed in the report as being of negligible size. Introducing legislation of this type has the potential to negatively impact someone reloading by effectively outlawing the practice as it breaks the chain of traceability being sought and also has the potential to tie up law-abiding firearm owners in the criminal tracing process if marked casings are on-sold and subsequently used in a crime.

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