The sometimes outrageous, always feisty Friendship Heights Village Council, apparently thwarted in its recent attempt to ban handguns from its hamlet, is now trying a new tactic -- banning bullets.
Village Council Chairman Alfred Muller said he will propose an ordinance outlawing possession of bullets within the village borders. In a slight twist of the gun-toters' favorite phrase, he declared: "Guns don't kill people, bullets do."
The village council passed a handgun ban in late October, only to be told by the Montgomery County Council's lawyer that state law prohibits localities from regulating guns. But apparently nothing in the law specifically blocks a local government from regulating ammunition. So when the council meets again on Dec. 14, Muller plans to introduce a new bill that would do just that.
"We will submit the same ordinance, but change the word 'handguns' to 'bullets,' " Muller said. "We felt that since this is an urgent situation, we will use what I consider to be a legal loophole."
Ammunition for hunting and for law enforcement weapons would be exempt from the bullet ban.
The proposal is already drawing some fire from the National Rifle Association, the nation's principal gun-owners lobby. "This is just a big publicity gimmick anyway," said John Adkins, spokesman for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "He Muller is just trying to create some hoopla to get some attention."
County Council attorney David Frankel called the bullet ban "a novel approach." He predicted that the issue may have to be decided in the courts or by the general assembly. "Certainly the state law speaks to handguns," Frankel said, "but it does not speak to bullets."
Under the proposed ordinance, those caught with bullets inside the village limits would be subject to a maximum $500 for first offenders, with up to $500 and six months in jail for second offenders. The ordinance would be enforced by Montgomery County police and by the village's hired hands, its special private security force.