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, we're now being treated to gun store salesmen wistfully suggesting they'd've stopped any sale of 6000 rounds 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.
6 months ago