Local Politics

Durham considers backing effort to restrict bullet sales

Posted February 2, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— The City Council has been wrestling with whether to throw its support behnind an effort to change state law to require background checks on people trying to buy bullets.

Such a restriction would require a change in state law, but some advocates said support from Durham could create the needed momentum to push a bill through the General Assembly.

"We don't sell guns to criminals, so why are we letting them buy the bullets?" said Rev. Melvin Whitley, a community activist who has fought gangs and crime in Durham for years.

Whitley emphasized his point Monday by going to an intersection where a 14-year-old was hit by a bullet.

"If you've never been robbed and you've never had somebody stick a gun in your face (or) you've never had a gun to go off near you, you probably won't understand this issue," he said.

Bullets Some want to shoot down 'bullet bill' proposal

Gun-owners said the so-called "bullet ownership bill" won't prevent crime.

"We need to focus on the person and not the object, because a gun never jumped up off a table and went and committed an armed burglary," said Wallace Chambers, who said he has twice had to show his gun to protect himself in threatening situations.

"Ultimately, it's my responsibility to be able to protect my house and my home," Chambers said.

City Council members were split on the proposal, with some calling it a state matter and others saying they support the concept but not necessarily Whitley's proposal.

"This is misdirected legislation," Councilman Eugene Brown said.

"I've got a very simplified approach to the bullet bill, (but) it is not the proposal that has been presented," Mayor Bill Bell said. "My sense is that, if you have permission to buy firearms, you ought to be able to buy bullets. If you don't have permission to buy firearms, then you shouldn't be able to purchase bullets."

Bills have been introduced in 18 states to require laser-engraving bullets with a serial number at the factory to make them traceable. None has passed.

Under North Carolina law, anyone who fills out the required paperwork, passes a criminal background check and provides two notarized references can purchase a handgun in North Carolina. Rifle and shotgun purchases don't require the references. There is no state restriction on ammunition sales.

"Any mechanism that will reduce the number of gun crimes, we need to explore," Councilman Howard Clement said.

Councilman Farad Ali said that if Durham backs the "bullet ownership bill," city officials need to recruit other counties and cities to support it as well in the General Assembly.


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  • carolinagirl965 Feb 3, 2009

    Taking away/limiting law abiding citizens right to purchase ammunition is just another step towards gov't control over every aspect of our lives. Criminals get their guns and Drug Addicts get their drugs. No program they come up with to throw money at is going to change that, just lighten our wallets that's all.

  • oldrebel Feb 3, 2009

    Another stupid idea from the Bull City.

  • oldfirehorse Feb 3, 2009

    RANDY MICHAEL YAGER is the regional president of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club and is wanted for violation of federal RICO Laws. CAUTION: Subject is known to carry firearms. Has previous Federal RICO Conviction. Yager is considered armed and dangerous. - BATF Most Wanted

  • oldfirehorse Feb 3, 2009

    PAULO ENRIQUE LOPEZ-GARCIA is wanted for questioning in two murders, violation of the Hobbs Act (interstate violent crime), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of federal crimes. -BATF Most Wanted

  • oldfirehorse Feb 3, 2009

    HARRY EDWARD MAXEY is wanted on an outstanding warrant by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, pursuant to an indictment in the Western District of Missouri, charging him with Felon Possession of a Firearm. -BATF Most Wanted

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 3, 2009

    If Durham would actually enforce the laws they actually have, they might actually have an idea.

    As it is, I don't thing the Durham city managers could find a clue if it bit them in their posterior.

  • oldfirehorse Feb 3, 2009

    Kinda like going to Costco or Sam's Club to buy groceries. Just buy larger quantities when you go so you don't have to go so often. Right?

  • oldfirehorse Feb 3, 2009

    I don't mind going to the gun shop to buy ammunition, especially if it made even minutely more difficult for a crook to get ammo.

  • whatusay Feb 3, 2009

    So Durham believes less bullets will equate to less murders. It only takes one bullet to kill someone. I am sure a committed criminal could find one bullet somewhere. What a hair-brain idea. If you want this to work just make owning a firearm a capital offense. If you are caught with a firearm you don't breathe any longer, bullets or not. Seems this is where our second amendment right is going down the drain. The government is currently taking over our banking system which is the backbone of our economic system. What's next, besides our bullets?

  • rtpengineer2 Feb 3, 2009

    Lets not overlook the economic impact for this completely worthless proposal. Serialized ammo runs the cost of manufacturing through the roof, thus ammunition companies start going out of business. The one that do stay in business then incur ridiculous expenses just to produce. Then tack on increased demand due to decreased available quantities, then the price goes through the roof. Now think for just a moment about who that impact. Yep, our trusty boys in blue - ALL POLICE DEPARTMENTS. Police officers are already in short supply and don't earn nearly enough for the service they provide us daily, not to mention the risk of life they take every minute to keep us safe. We're talking about raising taxes further and police departments skimming on expenses to keep up with something they require to exist. Oh yeah, don't forget the trickle effect from the ammunition manufacturers into the gun manufacturers. End result - further economic damage would be caused by this IGNORANT law.