Arnold Schwarzenegger gets tough on guns

Arnold Schwarzenegger gets tough on guns

October 18, 2007

Arnold Schwarzenegger has angered America’s powerful gun lobby by backing legislation requiring semi-automatic handguns to mark bullets with serial numbers to help police identify casings found at crime scenes.

The former Hollywood action hero, who played trigger-happy characters in violent films such as The Terminator, approved the crime-fighting technology despite opposition from the National Rifle Association, which said it could be used to implicate the innocent.

The law, the first of its kind in the US, will require all semi-automatic guns made or sold in California to “microstamp” every bullet fired with the weapon’s make, model and serial number.

America’s most populous state, parts of which are plagued by gang violence and lead the nation in drive-by shootings, already has some of its toughest gun laws.

The Republican governor, who has broken with his party on issues such as gun control, the environment and stem cell research, has backed previous landmark measures such as a 2004 ban on a particular type of machine gun.

Gun makers and sellers have until 2010 to comply with the Crime Gun Identification Act. The measure was supported by the California Police Chiefs Association, which said it would help them trace the guns used in crimes and connect offences where the same weapon was used.

According to the Brady campaign against gun violence, no arrests are made in nearly half of killings in California because police lack evidence to identify suspects. The group claimed the law “set a new national standard”.

Opponents, however, argued that the technology was unreliable, and could be tampered with or used to mislead police. They suggested criminals could sprinkle bullets from another weapon at a crime scene.

The governor, who last week discussed issues including gangs and gun crime with the Tory leader David Cameron, also backed a law banning lead ammunition in certain areas of the state where lead bullets are believed to be poisoning endangered condors.


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