Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Too Much Ammunition" Trend?

I'm seeing stories on local news emphasizing A) how much ammunition the murdering moron in Colorado had and B) how easy it is to order ammunition online.

Interestingly, I don't see any reports saying how many shots he fired; as a rough estimate, given the time and number of injured and killed, probably 200 or less, an amount most firearms enthusiasts will use up shooting at paper targets or metal plates in a typical session at a range.

Despite the tender sensibilities and breathless horror of our dear, dear friends in the media, the issue is not how much ammunition one might buy at a time, or where it was purchased; that was not the crime.

Nope, the issue is what it always is: the initiation of force against others -- and what individuals and society ought to do about it. But gee, that's hard to report on and it doesn't have striking visuals.

The present teapot-tempest over ammunition misses the mark entirely. Just as it's painfully easy -- and unrealistic -- to Walter-Mitty-ize about what you might've done had you been there at the scene,[1] we're now being treated to gun store salesmen wistfully suggesting they'd've stopped any sale of 6000 rounds[2] if they'd found the buyer even the least bit hinky. Never mind that friends and neighbors are reporting the Colorado killer as a quiet, smiling, even friendly fellow up to within a few days of his crime. (That nervous-acting guy at the counter buying a case of ammunition is probably taking advantage of a good price -- and fretting what his spouse is going to say when she sees the credit-card bill).

Hindsight is 20/20, but don't confuse it with insight. And don't confuse sensationalizing news reports with wisdom.

If this threatens to turn into legislation, fight it for all it's worth. There's no lower-round limit for evil; no bad guy is going to be deterred by purchase limits or ownership limits.
1. Still, I wish someone had been able to shoot back. Once evil has taken action, even a slim chance is better than none; the scene as described makes defensive fire difficult but not impossible. But we live in the world of what is, not what-if, and in that world, nobody in the theater was prepared. Which is what mass killers count on.

2. For the few who don't already know, even for weekend plinkers like me, a total count of 6000 rounds is not unusual, it's typical. Shooting little .22 revolvers, it's not unusual for me to use up 300 rounds in a single range session. Add up all the various boxes of normal and obscure calibers one accumulates and most firearms hobbyists will have at least 6ooo rounds. (That much .22LR would fit into a couple of shoeboxes, if your feet aren't too big; you'd need four or five shoeboxes for the same in .45 or .223.) A serious competition shooter has probably got even more on the shelf.


The Jack said...

Tempest in a teapot is what this stuff is all about, whip up a frenzy to "Do something".

The cynic in me notes that these folks are a-okay with these laws not doing diddly squat about the real problem.

That just means when it happens again they'll have the chance to "Do something" all over again.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

There is no such thing as "too much ammunition".

Joe said...

A couple dozen shoutgun shells at that range would have done similar and far messier damage, death and mayhem.

Of course the local "scare team" was in hysterics over the abilty to buy ammunition over the internet.

rickn8or said...

I'm still having trouble with the "ZOMG!!1! He had 6000 rounds with him!!"

Even if it were all .22, how could he lug 12 bricks in various pockets and still be able to move? A mixture of .223, .40 S&W and 12 GA?? I'm thinking he'd be pretty much immobile.

But maybe the MSM somehow got the 6000 round figure wrong.

And I'm sure FedEx and UPS couriers would rather all bulk ammunition sales be made in person by the customer at the store.

perlhaqr said...

Just as it's painfully easy -- and unrealistic -- to Walter-Mitty-ize about what you might've done had you been there at the scene

Oh, I dunno about that. I figure the answer is "grab my wife out of her chair, put her on the floor, and shield her body with mine".

Being legally disarmed at the theatre, there isn't much else I really could do against a dude with a rifle.

Anonymous said...

How about gasoline. There have been some incidents over the years where someone has dumped a 5 gallon bucket into the checkout lines at a supermarket, killed a lot of people, injured a bunch more. His name was William Ferry(spelling maybe not right) in Florida. In west Germany a school janitor killed some students with a weed sprayer filled with gasoline, using it as a flame thrower. I have heard one gallon of gasoline can equal 11 pounds of dynamite if dspersed properly. Never heard of gasoline control....

Earl said...

(That nervous-acting guy at the counter buying a case of ammunition is probably taking advantage of a good price -- and fretting what his spouse is going to say when she sees the credit-card bill).

Thank you, that is so real and worth smiling about.

BobG said...

"A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition."
- Rudyard Kipling

Stretch said...

The only time you have too much ammo is when your house is on fire.

karrde said...


assuming 0.223 for the AR-pattern gun, it is very hard to see how he carried more than 200 rds. I'm still not sure whether he had 30-rd mags or 100-rd drums. The anti-gunnies have been talking about the evil of a 100-rd drum, but there seemed to be a news picture of a rifle with a 30-rd mag.

If his tac-vest had webbing, did he have room for more than six 30-rd mags? More than one 100-rd drum? Because both of those limit him to 200 rds or fewer.

On the other hand, it is very easy to seem the guy blowing money on multiple cases of 0.223 (and 9mm), to the tune of 6000 rounds.

And it is really easy to see newsies misunderstanding the practical problem with carrying around 6000 rds of anything.

LabRat said...

I have no clue how much ammunition we have. It's squirreled away in various catchall shelves and corners of one of the spare rooms, bought as good deals come along.

A paranoid person would probably regard the extent of our bookshelves, DVDs, ammo, guns, and various Heavy Things with great horror.

Drang said...

Oddly enough, we got a Safety and Security briefing t the Salt Mine yesterday, and we were told that he was "a nice guy who was reclusive, and had been buying ammo in large amounts. No who does that remind you of?"

I almost said "Most Salt Mine employees?"

Ritchie said...

Rickn8or: Reports have it that he bought 6000 rounds, not carried it. But then the LSM has never been much good about observing nuances or..y'know, facts. Nobody knows how much ammo I have here. Not even me. I better go load some more.

rickn8or said...

Ritche, thanks for the clarification. I can understand owning 6000 rounds, or even having that much in the trunk.

And Stretch, you can sometimes have too much ammo when you're trying to swim with it.

Windy Wilson said...

Stretch -- or swimming.

Tam said...

I have a couple ammo cans in the trunk of the Zed Drei, one with 9x19mm (or "9 minimal", as it says on the lid of the can,) and one with .22LR. I have no earthly idea how much ammunition is in them, but a reporter is welcome to count them if it would make him happy.

Stranger said...

Figuring probabilities - he had a shotgun he used to put holes in the roof = 0 body count.

1 ARFiteen, by the back door telegraph either 9 or 19 empties found. 8 body count, 8 wounded.

One pistol. Body count 4, wounded 4.

Shrapnel, pieces of seat, full penetrations, etc., 48 wounded.

On the other hand; a backpack with a plastic bag filled with gasoline or diesel fuel. Rip the bag open at the entrance, light it, and leave. Body count from the fire, 200. Body count from the pileup at the emergency exit, 100. Seriously burned 100. Escaped relatively unscathed 200.

I would prefer to be shot at. Especially if I can shoot back.


Drang said...

RE: "Having" 6000 round, I just put two bricks of 500 rounds of .22LR in my pockets, an experiment I suggest you repeat with anyone who is all PSH-y about The Joker's ammo stash. If dude could tote 6000 rounds of combined .40 S&S, .223, and 12 ga., he's enough of a badass that he doesn't need a gun.

Roberta X said...

I'm pretty sure 6000 rounds was the total amount of ammunition he owned, and he was carrying somewhat less.