Lawmakers in one state recently announced that they will introduce legislation mandating ammunition manufacturers add serial numbers to ammo for retail sale and establish a registry to track it. 

The measure, by Pennsylvania state Reps. Manuel Guzman and Stephen Kinsey, both Democrats, is pitched as making the bullet a more useable piece of evidence for law enforcement to solve more crimes. They argue the proposal is more reliable for tracing purposes than current systems like ballistic fingerprinting since, in theory, a serial number might not require any special skills or equipment to read.

"Our bill that would require every piece of ammunition sold in this state to be encoded with identifying serial numbers – much like the guns they’re discharged from," said Kinsey in a statement. 

Bullet serialization has been brought up numerous times in the past, primarily by progressive politicians catering to pressure from anti-gun groups in solidly blue states like California and Illinois. Pro-Second Amendment and gun industry organizations hold that such a concept has only been done in theory and is not in any large-scale viable production anywhere in the world. Experts point that imprinting a workable – and survivable – unique serial number on a bullet or shell casing poses several problems and has little possibility of success. 


Going further, those against bullet serialization argue the tactic is just a way to close off the commercial ammo market from lawful gun owners as it would have to eventually phase out both hobbyist reloading and direct-to-home ammo shipments from online and catalog suppliers to close "loopholes." 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation notes that requiring serial numbers on ammunition would "force a slowdown in the production process – the likes of which would turn one day’s worth of production into a nearly four-week effort," a prospect that could force "major ammunition manufacturers to abandon the market" due to declining profitability. The smaller amount of serialized ammunition that made it to the market "would be faced with substantial price increases."

It could also have ammo-tracking problems for users able to score ammo in the future. 

"Private citizens would have to maintain records, if they sold ammunition to anyone, including family members or friends," argued the NRA on the concept. "The cost of ammunition would soar, for police and private citizens alike."

The proposed bill, whose language is not available, would also require ammo makers to provide the serial numbers to the Pennsylvania State Police, who would maintain a database on all encoded ammunition sold in the Keystone State. As the lawmakers make clear, such encoding would only be required for retail sales, ammo intended for military or police users would seemingly be exempt from the requirement. 

Guzman and Kinsey hope to introduce their bill in the coming days. 

Banner image: FN (Browning) Hi-power on a stack of 124-grain 9mm NATO loads from Winchester (Photo: Chris Eger/

revolver barrel loading graphic