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The Second Amendment is oft quoted as the reason that guns cannot be completely removed from American society, at least not without some sort of further amendment to the US Constitution. But what about attacking the problem in another way? There is no right reserved to the people in the US Constitution that prevents gunpowder, bullets, or other projectiles from being totally regulated. In other words, people can buy all of the guns they want, but possession of any form of ammunition for the guns could be made totally illegal or regulated as a state sees fit (barring federal legislation). Would this hold up in court? Has any state attempted to do this beyond limiting the amounts that can be purchased in a given period?

  • Why do you think that this would be any more popular (or likely to succeed) than simply banning (or further restricting) the guns themselves? – brhans Feb 5 at 20:48
  • I don't think it has a prayer of being popular, except among some of the more radical anti-gun activists and that wasn't the intent of the question anyway. The intent is to ask why a different route around the legal issue isn't tried. . – Brian McMahon Feb 5 at 22:16
  • But that's precisely my point. It doesn't matter what creative methods you dream up to enact gun control - you'll need to have politicians propose bills and/or constitutional amendments, and that'll never happen because those politicians will want to be re-elected next term. Until a significant majority of the voting public want gun control it's not going to happen. – brhans Feb 5 at 22:27
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In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the US Supreme Court held that "[District of Columbia's] ban on handgun possession in the home" and "prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense" violate the Second Amendment. This holding was later applied to states in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010). I presume that firearms would not be lawfully operable without lawful possession of ammunition.

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The problem with the proposal is that the Second Amendment doesn't specifically protect the right to bear guns – the word it uses is "arms". Restricting sale of bullets or gunpowder is just as much a restriction on the right to bear arms as restricting sale of guns. Likewise, freedom of the press doesn't refer to just the freedom to use a wine press for printing purposes, it also encompasses the purchase of ink, paper, type and drying racks.

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    I hadn't considered that ammunition would fall under the definition of arms, I guess because there is such focus on guns specifically. – Brian McMahon Feb 5 at 22:16

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