“Bullet sales are rising and so are death totals in mass shootings. Can they be stopped?” asks USA Today

This article is about two months old, time in which we’ve seen a couple more mass shootings hit the national news (out of California) and an additional instance of a mass shooter being stopped by armed good Samaritans on the premises.

So the answer to the USA Today’s Jeanine Santucci is, ‘Yes, they can. By people with guns, ammo, will, and ability to intervene with a killer and save lives.’

But that isn’t what is being asked here.

Nothing is actually being asked here. Instead we are to make an absolutely asinine inference, disguised as a journalistic inquiry, about the prevalence of ammunition being somehow directly tied to mass casualty totals. Jeanine wouldn’t steer us into murky waters, right?

Normally its semi-autos and high capacity magazines existing that is the problem, which stands upon the beginnings of a logical argument if we run it down properly. Now we’ve jumped that shark and gone to the existence of commercial ammo instead. Why? I genuinely don’t know other than the semi-auto argument, which isn’t quite this absurdist but gets close, has gone stale and they need a new thing to blame.

There are two conclusions/opinions/perspectives I want to remind people of before we go down this ‘ammunition is the problem’ illogic hole. These conclusions stem from the ‘semi-autos are the problem’ thought arc.

The first is that in order to ensure the freedom of the individual while both equalizing and mitigating, as much as possible within reason, the risk a person poses to another, functional and technologically current personal firearms must be legal, widely available, and with few impediments to their acquisition. A free person must also be free to choose to arm themselves against violence. This is because the state is both incapable of protecting the individual with certainty and the state is an acknowledged source of violent intent in its own right. This is then combined with a robust pursuit of social order and punishment of those who egregiously breach the few unbreachable rules the society holds will result in a fairly peaceful and prosperous society that will always possess the ability to both cause and respond to harm.

The second is the opposing view, that the existence of arms in the free society is too great a risk. Therefore the monopoly of violence must be given to the state to exercise, who you must then risk their abusing it as well as their inability to prevent the more extreme and damaging violent actions of individuals or small groups on others despite their legal monopoly. This fact, that you are only giving that monopoly to the government in the legal sense not a physical one, and also in a limited sense by prohibiting the private ownership of arms, must be well understood. You are not prohibiting violence or changing the conditions that beget it, you a grouping it into the legal and illegal monopolies. This must also be followed by the acknowledgement that no prohibition, even if passed in totality, will actually delete arms or violent intentions from society and any reduction in arms in circulation must be either voluntary or by the force of the government.

You must either rely upon the freedom and risk of a society allowed to be armed or the multifaceted fallibility of giving the monopoly of violence to the state, a proven abuser, unequal applicator of prosecution and sentencing, and chronic failure to prevent violent incidents against its citizenry who then used their courts to free themselves of the liability for failure.

But now lets run down if the notion ‘There is too much ammunition’ is a valid premise for why mass shootings happen, or at least why they are so deadly. Too much ammunition is too easy to get.

Let us begin.

The problem we see here, and often everywhere, is that people who do not like guns, they have a negative emotive response to firearms either totally or in certain contexts, who are uncomfortable with personal weapons as a concept and risk as an unavoidable aspect of life, all land on the second conclusion above, but do not then carry that conclusion through to the inevitable impossibility of implementing the solution(s) nor the limits of the solution. They use their negative emotional response to the concept of firearms that they are uncomfortable with to justify ignoring the negative effects and limitations of the policy that gives them emotional relief.

I don’t like ‘Assault Weapons’ so if we ban ‘Assault Weapons’ I will feel better. It is this simple in many respects.

The short of it is a society with as many firearms as we have, or even a fraction of them, whether they are prohibited totally today or allowed near unregulated, this society will look pretty much how our nation looks right now, with the violence levels it has and the socioeconomic outlook as it is. That socioeconomic outlook is far more indicative of the levels of expected violence than our regulation of personal arms will be.

No law about so mundane a thing as the type of weapons allowable changes the body counts, it just changes the blame game. Gun controllers do not project within the practical limits of their proposals, they always project best case when explaining the ‘benefits’ of a policy proposal. When challenged on the impossibility of best case they grudgingly admit in a nebulous sense that of course the solution wouldn’t get rid of ‘all gun crime/violence’ but it would ‘make a difference’ and, of course, ‘we have to do something’ too. So they end up defending the challenge to their policy premise by stating the obvious and then setting the bar for success as no bar at all while tossing in an emotionally manipulative moral action mandate.

Anything is better than nothing, which is empirically not true, and if you ‘do nothing’, meaning support policies they support, you are evil.

USA Today takes this very approach,

America’s mass shootings are as much about the free trade of bullets as they are about gun sales. Take, for instance, the Uvalde, Texas, shooting that killed 19 school children and their two teachers. 

So, almost none at all? If mass killings (lets not use shootings, its leading) have as much to do with the commercial availability of ammo as they do arms, then neither has very much to do with the killings other than the convenience as a method of injury and the extra attention a particular method may garner.

We’ll cover an example a little further in.

The examples of violence in the extreme have nothing to do with the ‘free trade of bullets’ when compared against the other formative and triggering factors. The “free” trade of arms and ammunition, which takes licensure to buy and sell, have fairly stringent shipping and transferring restrictions, and a time consuming purchase process, is tangential. These attacks are about the misguided hyper motivated search for attention or retribution that attackers know, and the media reinforces, they will receive for perceived wrongs if they commit an atrocity with a high enough body count.

The gunman in the 2022 assault armed himself with more than  1,000 rounds of ammunition after spending about $5,000 on guns, bullets and gear. He fired 142 rounds inside the school, starting in a fourth grade classroom. 

So he used 142 rounds and killed 21 people, 19 children. What about ‘having’ 1,000 rounds made the 142 rounds fired in anger more dangerous? Why didn’t the North Hollywood shootout result in far more carnage if ammunition volume is a determining factor? The bad guys there fired around 1,100 rounds. They were also the only two to die.

A regular boring handgun with somewhere between 10 and 17 rounds in a magazine, plus the spare magazine or two that probably came with it, is both far less than $5,000 to buy and more than capable of causing the level of carnage being bemoaned above with only one box of 50 rounds. With six more magazines and two more ammunition boxes you can fire each and every round the Uvalde shooter fired and do it for a fraction of the money that was spent by the Uvalde shooter.

So what is the problem with ammo specifically?

He had enough bullets to do a lot more damage. 

Ah.

But he didn’t.

To expand, nothing in the analysis of mass shootings worldwide suggests he was going to be able to do much more than he had already done, given the totality of the circumstances for that event. Ammunition available does not equate to casualty count. It isn’t even a good predictor of likely casualty count. Shots fired isn’t either, its somewhat closer to a one but it isn’t a good indicator. Ammunition is a single factor and not among the more important ones once we look beyond its mere availability. Having enough people to use any ammunition against in close enough proximity is the primary casualty causing factor in mass shootings. Mass shootings target densely crowded locations for a reason, often combined with an emotional or retributive reason. An angry employee attacks their place of work and multiple other employees or customers, not their boss on his or her own at the dog park. The sought retribution ‘required’ more be taken by the assailant than one person.

Method of injury could be a pump action shotgun with 5 rounds of buckshot in it, but fired into a crowded club, into the crowd at a concert, or the packed line of the airport on a busy day and you have a bunch of dead and wounded because the public environment put a mass of people conveniently very close together and society demands that they be unarmed at most of these densely packed locations for their “safety”.

Learn with me here. Let’s talk about professional defense against these weapon types for a moment.

Why do ground troops, soldiers, Marines, etc., maintain distance between them when on patrol or in contact with an enemy? Usually 15 or more meters when they can. Simple, most weapons used against them can only get one of them at a time that way. Certain weapons and actions will necessitate troops to cluster, but that is usually as temporary as can be managed in order to minimize the ability of someone with a machinegun or explosives to inflict grievous harm on the them. The enemy has to fire, get an effective hit, and then survive the counter attack that is coming because they only have one available target before the response comes. Ukraine is teaching us a lot of lessons about the modern state of violent intent, particularly by state actors.

All manner of different factors go into the equation of projected lethality. But we certainly don’t give every troop 1,000 rounds, instead of the standard 210, thinking that somehow that ups the amount of damage they can do. 1,000 rounds is enough ammo for five soldiers to get into a pretty serious gunfight and make it out. That gunfight could have very few casualties or potentially hundreds. We have a few documented instances where well placed US troops inflicted devastatingly lopsided casualties on enemy combatants with a few hundred rounds in their supply and the discipline to use them effectively. We also have the North Hollywood shootout where 2,000 rounds back and forth resulted in two dead perpetrators and a few injuries.

In short, ammunition available is a terrible indicator of damage potential or casualty projection. Ammunition expended is only slightly more useful. Applying an extrapolation to merely ammunition purchased, not expended by the shooter at the time of the event or available on them, is the most asinine take of the bunch.

Now back to this room temperature take on why ammo is the problem.

Time and time again, in the wake of a mass shooting it’s revealed that the shooter was carrying enough weaponry to kill everyone inside a school, movie theater, grocery store or even a full-sized mall. 

And they never do. This perspective on events relies on two factors that are never going to occur. It requires all the people under attack to remain entirely immobile and the shooter to never encounter effective counter force.

Recall the Bataclan attack in France. Nine people, seven of who were killed, attacked several locations in Paris in 2015. Multiple radicalized trained shooters, multiple rifles, explosives, and crowded venues, and they killed one hundred thirty people of the potentially thousands their combined arsenal “could have killed”. But as happens with these incidents, people ran, people hid, and people fought. That doesn’t change the horrific nature of the attack or its results, it does mean 1,000 rounds doesn’t mean what you are trying to imply it means by suggesting that a completely different target environment would have had more devastating results… because of the ammo.

It’s not hard for the killers to build a significant arsenal of assault rifles, handguns, high-capacity magazines – and bullets. Lots of bullets.

It is harder than you seem to credit to carry them though.

Have you tried that? Ever?

Have you tried to carry 1,000 rounds? How about 1,000 rounds loaded in magazines, either 33 or 100 for the ‘safe’ magazines? Now let’s put that into the context of you now having to fight from your initial ambush point where you probably did inflict casualties but are now fighting literally every heavily armed responding officer, and potentially armed citizens, whose sole purpose in life has narrowed to shooting you in the face. You are rapidly going to lose a gunfight. You might win some, but you only get to lose one and it is over. The people coming for you only have to be better than you or luckier than you one time for about a 2 second window.

Only nine mass shooting in US history have more than 20 deaths, regardless of the number of guns or how much ammunition was involved. The mass shooting of all mass shootings that should prove this point if it were a point to prove, Las Vegas, only killed 60 people and he was magazine dumping at the rate bumpstocks could produce into a densely packed concert crowd. He fired over 1,000 rounds at 22,000 densely packed together people… and killed 60. Hit and injured 413 others, but killed only 60.

The densely packed and much closer Pulse shooting in Orlando killed 49 with about 200 rounds fired. I’m not going to go into how the police actions in that event went, but you should look into that before we just say it was the round count.

Each year billions of bullets are sold in the U.S., making bullet sales a booming business.

Ha. Booming.

A recent trade report estimated the global small-caliber ammunition market is expected to reach $11.3 billion by 2030. And gun sales have ramped up, hitting buying highs even during pandemic-related ammunition shortages.

People wanted guns and ammo during the scariest national and international time in recent history? Where the government told people the cops weren’t coming if they got called? Remember that? And then gun sales went up adding somewhere between 6 and 9 million new gun owners to the US?

Weird. I can’t imagine why the government telling you you’re on your own made people act like they were on their own.

Even then, the U.S. government and munitions manufacturers have reported increased sales and higher prices by resellers as buyers stockpiled bullets and guns.

Gun ownership expanded by a very dramatic percentage during the pandemic timeframe, all those millions of new owners needed hundreds of millions of rounds. Yes, hundreds of millions. Even if they only had 100 rounds each. That does nothing to address the existing gun owners normal consumption of rounds, or their increased consumption in conjunction with the pandemic anxiety.

After a mass shooting, public attention inevitably turns to a debate on the control of guns. But with shooters so often stocked up on ammunition to kill as many as possible, many are left to wonder: What about the bullets?

What about the bullets?

We return to the fact that the ammunition volume to cause horrific damage is very low. A single full magazine can kill multiple people, or it can kill nobody. 1,000 rounds fired in anger can kill 60 people out of a crowd of tens of thousands, or result in two shooters getting killed by the police and nobody else. Ammunition volume is not a reliable metric for damage projection.

It’s like saying someone who splashed half a gallon of gasoline on a house to burn it down would have done far more damage burning down the same house if they had 20 gallons of gasoline. Or more so that the person who burned down that house with half a gallon of gas could have burned way more houses with the remainder of the 20 gallons they had, but they didn’t do that because people stopped them and controlled the fire as we have fire extinguishers and fire departments to fight fires.

The piece gets so close to the recognition that everyone in the public space is running around with the potential to cause catastrophic damage at all times, but then doesn’t quite complete the logic chain.

“Ammunition plays a large role in mass shootings, and ammunition has been historically less regulated than firearms themselves,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, a Democrat who oversees a newly established office designed to sue gun and ammunition manufacturers when their products cause harm

That newly established offices is a blatant violation of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Manufactures can, of course, be sued for product defects or reckless marketing of their products. They cannot be sued for willful and illegal misuse of their product. Committing a crime with their product is a willful and illegal misuse, just as driving impaired is with a vehicle.

Gun manufacturers aren’t holding a murder caveat to their liability, they are merely being judged by a reasonable standard of what they can control vs. what they cannot.

WHERE DO SHOOTERS GET THEIR WEAPONS? More mass shooters are using semi-automatic rifles – often bought legally

There was a link there, but I killed it.

Why?

Because ‘More’ is misleading when MOST still use handguns. It’s the same vaguebook reporting that states ‘more’ PMFs (what we’re now calling 80% builds) are being recovered at crimes by law enforcement but neglects to say that MOST, by an astoundingly huge margin, are still regular serialized firearms.

They also do not mention that 99 out of 100 of these recovered and trace requested firearms of all categories are considered routine requests, not urgent. What are the urgent ones? Mass murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, the rest are ‘felon in possession recovered during a traffic stop’ or ‘suspect in custody’ situations.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the ATF report. I’ll cover this more, and the NPR ‘report’ on the takeaways soon.

An urgent trace is deemed necessary when the criminal violations are significant, and circumstances warrant or require that the firearm be traced without undue delay. Examples of this include mass shootings, homicides, bank robberies, and other immediate threats to officer and public safety.ATF Crime Guns Recovered and Traced Within the United States and Its Territories, Part III of NFCTA

As easy as ‘ordering a pizza’: Bullets are not hard to buy online or at a shop

So they say. And yes, you can order ammo online and you can order a pizza online. Or a TV. Or tools. Or knives. Or tons of dangerous household chemicals. Or a car. As long as you are are of age to purchase and authorize credit card transactions, you can buy things. Neat. That is a very shallow comparison meant to evict the emotive response, not be a critical analytical point.

You can’t order a gun like a pizza, they try and claim that but it isn’t so, and you need both gun and ammunition for ammunition to do anything, so the gun makes sense to have what effective regulation on as we can manage and enforce as it is far easier to do so with. For comparison should we start making everyone take a breathalyzer exam to activate gas pumps when they need fuel to try and curb drunk driving or should we keep those in vehicles? Should we do every vehicle at all times or would that be too presumptive? See where this logic goes? A ‘good idea’ with a hypothetical positive result must be run through critical analysis, it cannot be borne upon the thoughts, prayers, and good intentions.

It’s remarkably easy for anyone to obtain large quantities of ammunition, said Ari Freilich, state policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, led by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting in 2011.

That’s how a free society and commerce work. Its supposed to be easy.

Also can we finally stop pretending that surviving a thing makes you in any way qualified to be a subject matter expert? You surviving a multicar crash doesn’t make you a vehicle or roadway designer or grant you special insight into those. It makes you a good statistic, you lived. Your account of what happened has value. Your opinion on how to ‘fix’ it has much less value because it must be judged on efficacy.

In most places in the country, people can go online and have hundreds or thousands of bullets delivered to their door “as if ordering a pizza,” he said.

Can I order 5.56 with mushrooms?

California’s ammunition regulations are some of the most comprehensive, Freilich said, noting the requirement that a background check be completed at the point of sale and that ammunition can’t be ordered online and shipped to your door; it can be picked up from an authorized dealer that must perform the background check.

And that check has prevented… let’s count them… 0 of 30 Mass Shootings in California in 2022, giving California 3rd place for the year in mass shooting volume.

Since I’m asking about things we can stop pretending about, we should stop pretending we can background check harder than we background check right now. Please? Because we can’t. Voluntary compliance is a massive part of the system and we can’t stop people who ignore that or people with clear backgrounds who then choose to act violently. Those people, and many mass shooters have clear backgrounds, are not criminals prior to their attacks.

We also monumentally don’t care about felons with guns or trying to get guns. Low priority. If cops happen to run into a felon who happens to have a gun at the time of interaction then it might be convenient to charge them depending on how the prosecutor feels about actually prosecuting gun crimes vs their equity image.

But I digress.

“Restricting large-capacity magazines is one of the single most effective things we could do to reduce the shooter’s capacity to turn shootings into mass murders,” Freilich said.

No it isn’t. Proven ad nauseum by firearms experts.

There are are probably billions of so called ‘high capacity’ magazines in existence and they are durable goods. If we ban them all tomorrow I guess we’ll get around to reducing appreciable death by guns holding more than 10 rounds specifically and stick ones with less than that some time about the year 2100.

Proponents say lower capacities on magazines would force an attacker to stop to reload a weapon sooner and more often, providing more opportunity for people to either subdue the shooter or escape.

This has also repeatedly been proven, by experts, to be wishful thinking and not tied in any way to how a mass casualty attack proceeds. Reloading is a simple and quick process. Carrying more than one firearm is also a simple thing. We cannot make a gun ‘safe’ enough to not be useful to a killer while also making it useful enough for lawful defenders. If you rewound technology tomorrow to manual action firearms only. Revolvers, pump guns, bolt guns, and lever guns, the appreciable casualty causing power of a single shooter would not be dramatically diminished. Every single mass shooting attack in US history would unfold differently, but still be eminently feasible.

Las Vegas could arguably have turned out worse. Imagine forcing a shooter as determined as he was to use a higher powered bolt action rifle and aim each shot. Imagine how much longer it might have taken to locate the attacker. Imagine how many more dead instead of wounded. Imagine it, dreaming about erasing century old technology and forcing an attacker to use century and a half old technology instead doesn’t change the ending.

Freilich noted that when Giffords was shot, bystanders used an opportune moment when the shooter was reloading his weapon to subdue him and end the attack. 

By standers were also numerous and close and the attacker had a single primary target, but why talk about all the environmental factors of a targeted political assassination attempt when the one factor we want to parrot was present.

You know what would subdue and has proven to subdue an attacker faster than an ‘opportune moment’, somebody else with a gun.

It’s a restriction favored by most of the American public. A Gallup poll in June found 55% support banning the sale and possession of magazines with capacities higher than 10 rounds, 44% oppose it and 1% had no opinion. 

Do we have to rehash the total general public ignorance on this topic? Polls like this are of no value and shouldn’t be looked at as a basis for public policy. Instead, we take poll a group of 10 firearm experts and pair them with 10 security experts, and see if they can see any practical solutions. Magazine ban won’t make the list. We actually do this. Often. But we don’t want to talk about their solution lists because they conclude that. A. We can’t really do much since this is primarily reactive, B. Physical security is complex. and C. Bans would be ineffective at changing the risk and casualty profile of past targets or potential targets.

The Giffords group and other gun regulation advocates also propose that ammunition sellers be required to maintain records of their sales and make the information available to law enforcement, as New Jersey will soon enact. 

More paperwork that will be valueless most of the time. Giant records repositories do not help prevent crime, they are too cumbersome.

Data collection and reporting of large sales to state police, along with other measures such as behavioral threat assessments, will help law enforcement to identify bad actors, said Platkin, the New Jersey attorney general.

I would love to see any data to back that claim and compare it against the data of all large volume buyers. If buyer A made a concerning social media post that makes you believe they were planning an attack and then bought 500 rounds of ammo and plans were found detailing an attack, that doesn’t materially change the circumstance from omitting the purchase of 500 rounds. The defendant lawyer is going use the circumstantial and speculation angles to defend their client with or without ammunition present unless the person confesses their plan.

We’re grasping at niche methods to possibly, if the circumstances align perfectly, prevent an attack when that is literally where we already are without layers of overregulation.

Law-abiding gun owners who purchase ammunition in bulk won’t have anything to worry about, Platkin said.

Yes they will. Your behavioral threat assessments suck. How many of the last shooters were ‘known to law enforcement’? If you’re looking at bulk purchasers in addition to all the other information that already isn’t triggering a preemptive response to these ‘known to law enforcement’ individuals, what are we changing exactly? And recall a large purchase isn’t necessary for an attack. It has happened, but it has also happened under benign circumstances far more often. Picking out a behavior of both hostile and benign firearm users is useless. It is easily circumvented too, just buy under whatever magic threshold that the government is going to have to make public knowledge or the threshold will be so absurdly low that everyone who has ever purchased ammunition will be on the list, thus making the list meaningless.

A spokesperson for the NRA said that flagging bulk purchases of ammunition as suspicious is misguided and based on misconceptions about firearms and ammunition.

“Gun owners who shoot often will regularly purchase thousands of rounds of ammunition per transaction. Purchases of this nature happen daily. Some law-abiding gun owners may use hundreds of rounds of ammunition simply practicing at the range,” the NRA’s Amy Hunter said. “Competitive shooters will easily go through a thousand rounds, or more, of ammunition in a single day. And, just like any consumer, gun owners often stock up when they see a good buy.”

Like any necessary bulk consumable, we buy a lot of it.

But Platkin said: “Nothing that we have done has taken away or intends to take away people’s lawful right to possess firearms and possess legal ammunition. What we’re trying to do is keep folks safe.”

Your good intent does not excuse flawed policy. That’s the unspoken massive victory that has come out of the Supreme Court. The government can’t just ‘do’ with ‘good intention’ there has to be more.

Prosecute gun crimes against gun criminals. Keep criminals interned for their sentences. Stop letting equity politics let loose killers and potential killers that those ‘behavioral threat assessments’ should be red flagging. Whatever you are trying to do, you are failing at with this database nightmare you are proposing here, Mr. AG, and doing so in place of realistic policies and limitations.

Stop pretending we can protect people with a law, we cannot. We can prosecute people for breaking a law if we catch them, that is our power. Throughout nearly all of human history, the unjust slaying of another person or persons has been against the laws of given societies. It has never once, in that same entirety of history, stopped anyone who cared to disobey that law and risk the consequences. Why are we convinced putting people who buy ammo on a list will suddenly change that fact or give law enforcement the magic power they’ve lacked to stop the killers who order 500 rounds and pick them from any of dozens of ammo vendors while not bothering everyone else?

What absolutely juvenile thinking this is.

Lack of regulation adds to problem, advocates say

But would more regulation solve it? No? Then regulation isn’t adding or diminishing the problem, this is a problem that isn’t regulation solvable. We need to stop pretending a regulation can fix voluntary human behaviors. It’s been the snake oil of the political class for too long as it is.

Some states and federal law have requirements for purchasing or possessing ammunition, such as age requirements or a prohibition for people with certain criminal convictions.

Yep. Yet felons keep getting guns and ammo. Weird.

But in many places, anyone can go online or walk into a store and buy ammunition unchecked, because federal law doesn’t require sellers to perform background checks to determine whether purchasers are banned from having ammunition.

Next you will tell me that the drinking age being 21 doesn’t actually prevent minors from consuming alcohol.

Government leaders calling for reform say bullet regulation – including through the recording of sales, licensing of dealers or background checks – is necessary in the battle to curb mass shootings. 

No, it isn’t.

I’d love to do an audit of just one large manufacturer/dealer of ammunition. Let’s say Palmetto State. I want to get three months of records of every purchase order that contained enough ammunition to be a ‘problem’ and then let a team of criminal investigators look at those records and try and pick the killers. Omit the names, whose behavior says ‘killer’ to them.

Because here is what they aren’t saying out loud, so they can make this scarier. All these big online vendors know exactly who bulk purchases ammunition. Its in the shipping and billing information. They have all this information and it would be exactly as effective as background checks currently are at stopping mass shootings, not effective. Waste of time. Irritation to the consumer and seller.

That seems to be the goal though, to constantly annoy people off the market.

Yay! We solved murder through the power of inconvenience.

“Gun violence is an epidemic, and if we’re going to respond to it, there’s not one measure that’s going to cure it, the same way there’s not one effort that was going to cure COVID-19.

Oh that’s a really bad comparison right now, considering all the ineffectual nonsense the government put everyone through during COVID that is not a measure you should be making a comparison too. Remember all the lockdowns, the wrecked service economy, the pittance of checks they sent out, all things that didn’t rid of COVID but helped usher in the United States most violent period in recent history?

Yeah, maybe avoid that comparison.

You have to treat it like the public health crisis that it is and attack it from many angles,” Platkin said.

No, you don’t. Because it isn’t. Diseases don’t have motives, mass murders do. You have to treat these like crimes. Because they are crimes, violations of the social order written and unwritten. These are social problems, not medical. This isn’t a cold, it is an angry and motivated human being who wants retribution for something or a perceived gain by their actions.

A handful of states have some ammunition regulations, including California’s point-of-sale background check requirement and New York’s record-keeping requirements.

And how is that working out for them? Oh yeah, they both made top 10 states for mass shootings in 2022. Good for them.

Some states ban types of dangerous ammunition, such as the eight states that ban ammunition that explodes on contact, according to the Giffords group. Federally, only certain armor-piercing bullets are banned except for law enforcement.

Name the mass shooting where an exploding round was used. Name a criminal event in fact, where something like a Raufoss round was used where a normal round wouldn’t have served.

Do it. I’ll wait.

Bulk ammo, what we’re talking about regulating here, is cheap full metal jacket ammunition used for recreation, training, competition, etc. It is for all practical purposes just as lethal shot for shot as ‘enhanced’ rounds are. The differences are negligible for the purpose of this discussion. The Giffords link mentions the Black Talon ‘ban’, where they say this ‘dangerous round’ was removed from market but don’t know that Winchester literally just changed the name to PDX. Same ammo. Exactly the same ammo.

If that is the standard of efficacy, we can solve all gun violence tomorrow by simply not calling it gun violence anymore.

Ta-da.

Opponents of regulation like the National Rifle Association, which also largely opposes firearm regulations, argue that ammunition is protected under the 2nd Amendment as an essential component of bearable arms.

Yay! They said NRA again. Remember kids, NRA bad. Don’t look into it too hard though.

Oh, and ammunition is protected under the 2nd Amendment as an essential component of bearable arms.

Though the Supreme Court hasn’t directly weighed in on ammunition regulations, experts say courts would interpret the 2nd Amendment to include protections for people to have ammunition, and Freilich noted regulations being proposed on ammunition are “really pretty modest.”

Proponents say that about every regulation they propose, it doesn’t make it true. The 2nd Amendment is literally a constitutional mandate on keeping regulations modest, so congrats on doing the bare minimum if your ‘modest’ regulations actually fit that mold. But they don’t.

Also, efficacy. Where are these regulations showing any efficacy?

Bullet laws face challenges

Beyond relevance? They sure do.

Recent legislation and voter measures have sought to fill gaps in some states. In Oregon, voters narrowly passed a ballot measure in November to enact new gun control law, including a provision that would prohibit high-capacity magazines.

Which will likely be sued out of existence by the end of the year.

Oregon’s Measure 114, which was approved by 50.6% of voters – 49.4% opposed – was put on hold by a judge Dec. 15 while gun rights groups challenge its constitutionality in court.

Congrats, you can get 50.6% of a voter block to vote on a feel good measure by not critically think about second and third order effects or the limited efficacy.

Hooray, the public are still stupid and trust you to explain things honestly and do the work of thinking for them. I’m glad that is consistent, gun control arguments sure aren’t.

Proponents of the provision banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, with some exceptions, argue it could be a key factor in limiting the amount of death and injury in mass shootings.

Again.

Disproven.

Repeatedly.

Flat earth proponents also keep arguing the earth is flat. I feel we should take flat earthers more seriously than gun banners, the flat earth delusion is at least funny and harmless.

Harney County, Oregon, Judge Robert Raschio called it “speculation” that the measure would promote public safety in his decision to halt the law from taking effect.

Ah, a man who can read and interpret data. Excellent.

“Banning magazines over 10 rounds is no more likely to reduce criminal abuse of guns then banning high horsepower engines is likely to reduce criminal abuse of automobiles,” the lawsuit brought by a gun rights group, a sheriff and a gun store owner in Oregon said. “To the contrary, the only thing the ban contained in 114 ensures is that a criminal unlawfully carrying a firearm with a magazine over 10 rounds will have a potentially devastating advantage over his law-abiding victim.” 

It really doesn’t even ensure that. Due to information lag what it most likely ensures is that someone somewhere with no ill intent whatsoever is going to enter the justice system unnecessarily because of possession of a high capacity magazine.

Why do I say this is the most likely scenario?

It already happened.

New York tried to bury a decorated veteran for possessing a prohibited magazine while David Gregory was given a prosecutorial pass for being special.

The case has brought national interest because of the comparison to NBC’s David Gregory, who ran afoul of the same law in Washington, D.C. Unlike Mr. Haddad, Mr. Gregory asked permission from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department in advance to possess the illegal 30-round magazine and was denied.

The anchor of “Meet the Press” went ahead anyway with it on national TV, but the attorney general for the District of Columbia refused to prosecute. (Click to read more about that decision: David Gregory Gets Off Scot Free.)Washington Times

We live in a wonderful time for gun control, its effective twilight. Heller, McDonald, and Bruen are paving the way for the common sense application of the 2nd Amendment and are finally putting an end to states skating by on the alleged public good or public interest of their rulesets.

Colorado has had a similar law on the books since 2013 in the wake of the Aurora movie theater massacre that killed 12 people and injured dozens more. That law bans the sale of magazines with a capacity for over 15 rounds, and it has faced legal challenges. Still, loopholes in that law made it possible for a man who killed 10 in a Colorado supermarket last year to have legally obtained high-capacity magazines on him.

So your law didn’t work? We need to law harder? Everything you don’t like about a law is a ‘loophole?

I’m going to start calling felons who carry guns the honey badger loophole, because they just don’t give a fuck.

Law doesn’t magically stop hundreds of millions of commonly held magazines at the borders of Colorado, New York, or California, but it did chase Magpul to Texas.

Eleven other states and Washington, D.C., have banned large-capacity magazines: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Four of the 13 states with laws only enacted them in 2022, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

And when one of these lawsuits filters through, probably California, all of that effort and the wasted tax money just goes away. Just a giant bill of taxpayer money fighting for a thing that doesn’t matter, doesn’t work, and never has.

Where do mass shooters get their bullets?

  • Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting: A gunman opened fire July 20, 2012, killing a dozen people. He came with an AR-15 equipped with a 100-round magazine drum, a semiautomatic shotgun and more than 200 rounds of assault rifle ammo, and 15 rounds of .40 caliber bullets. Leading up to that day, the gunman had ordered more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online, along with other materials he used to create explosives and booby-trap his apartment.  
  • Las Vegas music festival shooting: The man who killed 58 and injured hundreds on Oct. 1, 2017, fired more than 1,000 rounds in 10 minutes, and more than 4,000 unspent rounds were found in the hotel room from which he fired. He had an additional 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds in his car. One former ammunition dealer who sold the gunman about 600 illegally manufactured tracer and armor-piercing rounds was sentenced to 13 months in prison in 2020.
  • Shooting at Walmart in El Paso, Texas: The man who killed 23 people on Aug. 3, 2019, in a hate-inspired attack bought an AK-47-style rifle and 1,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition, which expands in bodies upon impact to cause more damage, online 45 days before the shooting.
  • Uvalde, Texas, school shooting: The gunman who killed 19 children and their two teachers on May 21, 2022, legally bought two guns from a licensed dealer in the days before the attack. He had recently purchased 375 rounds of 5.56 ammunition for the rifles and carried seven 30-round magazines with him. He had also recently received an online order of 1,740 hollow-point bullets, which he purchased just days after his 18th birthday. 

Killers bought ammo. Neat. What about flagging every large ammo order would have been valuable? How many large ammo orders did any of these vendors process in a 30 day window surrounding these? What would make these orders stand out? These shooters all cleared background checks, are you really going to sit their and argue that had we added these data points to the giant pile of data that we already ignore on a daily basis, even when people actually fail background checks, that we’d have stopped any of these. Not all of them, tell me with a straight face we would have stopped one. You can’t. The best you can give me is ‘well maybe…’ yeah, well maybe the next killer will trip and fall down the stairs and reconsider his life choices or die. Maybe he’ll get in a car wreck on the way.

Why do we keep analyzing shootings and then proposing policies that wouldn’t have had a prayer of stopping them more than we already had of stopping them?

In many cases, because there aren’t requirements in many states or federally for ammunition sellers to keep records of the sales – unlike with gun sales – the origin of mass amounts of ammunition can’t be easily traced.

Except by… you know… credit cards and receipts. This is actually a bold faced lie. We can tell exactly where ammo came from if there is a credit card or digital purchase involved. That seems pretty straight forward. Also what would that data tell you, they didn’t intend to pay their credit card bill? Congrats, we know mass killers can shop on the internet like the majority of the population. Neat.

Holding the ammunition industry accountable

Oh. Here. We. Go.

In large part, gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers are shielded from liability by the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

From frivolous lawsuits brought by actions beyond their control.

It gives broad immunity to the industry in the wake of “the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm. It makes some exceptions for when manufacturers or sellers knowingly break a law, such as selling a firearm to a felon.

So when they did nothing wrong you can’t sue them for it, like alcohol or vehicle makers, but when they do something wrong it is their fault.

Seems reasonable to me. What about that screams special protection.

The act has been used to dismiss outright claims made against the firearms industry in the wake of gun violence. Sandy and Lonny Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, filed a suit against retailers that sold ammunition to the gunman, but it was dismissed under the act and the couple were ordered to pay the retailer’s legal costs

That’s the risk of a lawsuit, you lose and you pay. Your tragic back story or traumatic life event doesn’t change how at fault or not a retailer is. What are they going to do, make everyone sign a pledge not to be a mass murderer and only use the ammo for lawful purposes for every sale? Lawful use of a product is the default assumption, why should it be incumbent on the retailer to give spurious and entirely meaningless extra assurances that a customer will act lawfully at all future times?

Lucky Gunner, a Tennessee-based online ammunition retailer, has faced two lawsuits tied to mass shootings. The most recent suit stemmed from the 2018 shooting at a Santa Fe, Texas, high school by a 17-year-old. Texas’ Supreme Court ruled the case could proceed in February despite Lucky Gunner’s attempts to have it dismissed.

This one will be interesting to watch. There is no reasonable way an age verification can’t be spoofed. None. It is incumbent on the consumer to follow the law. The seller cannot be forced to know if a purchaser is being truthful or held liable if they are not, only the sellers active mistakes or deliberate circumvention of the law constitutes their liability. Sellers can only check the finite information they are interacting with. Shipping addresses matching up. Warnings and postings of age and shipping restrictions on the website. ID Uploads. Nothing that actually prevents somebody from lying.

They certainly can’t check intent, current or future, in the checkout process.

The Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers have called for a repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and some blue states, including New York, Delaware and New Jersey, have introduced “public nuisance” laws in the last couple of years giving states the power to sue gun and ammunition industry members over gun violence.

Now ask them to do the auto industry or the pharmaceutical industry. No? Way too much money there? Okay. Funny how that works.

New Jersey’s Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement Office was created this year to do just that.

You made a government office to break federal law? Who do you think you are, the government?

Platkin said anyone selling firearms or ammunition in a way that violates state law, or not taking enough care to prevent sales to people who harm residents, can be liable.

That’s… that’s literally already the liability standard. You made the illegal things more illegaler… again. Good job team.

“The goal here is the same goal we have for any other industry: If you’re harming our residents in ways that violate our laws, you’ll be held accountable,” Platkin said. “I don’t think that’s a particularly radical idea”

They aren’t harming your residents. Your residents are harming your residents. They are providing a lawful good and facilitating a constitutionally protected right for your residents, a right that a tiny percentage of those same residents, who have that right, will end up abusing. That is inevitable in human existence and no variation of the words ‘you aren’t allowed to do this’ has yet or will ever prevent it in totality, or even reasonable efficacy.

It won’t.

It cannot.

It never will be able to.

It is impossible.

It cannot be enforced.

No matter how much force the government applies the prohibitions remain unenforceable to the degree that matters, fully preventing loss of life. They cannot, and openly acknowledge the impossibility when they are taken to court over it, of protecting everyone. This has not stopped them from trading politically and financially on the implied concept that they can, at least a little better than right now.

“Can they be stopped?”

No, USA Today’s Jeanine Santucci, not in the way you are implying. Shootings cannot be prevented with anything approaching certainty and we need to stop trading on the concept that they can if we just prohibit them a little bit harder. We can be watchful while respecting rights, we can be ready to respond to a shooting as we respond to other emergencies, but we cannot make them too illegal to exist. It is impossible and we need to stop wasting our time and trampling on your rights, even if you choose not to exercise them, in pursuit of that.

Instead we have the harder task of devaluing violence. We must continue to build our socioeconomic situation into one where violence is of increasingly little value. Where violence will not accomplish one’s end goals. Where there are easier and more productive methods for getting what one wants.

Sound hard?

You fucking bet it is. Because violence, force, will always hold some form of value. The ability to project force, the ability to be violent, will always have a place in society and therefore both legitimate and illegitimate ways to use it. It is and will remain a component of society and we need gun controllers to recognize that what they want isn’t an end to violence, they simply want to control the monopoly of it. The smart ones do understand this, the useful idiots don’t. So gun controllers like Giffords, Cuomo, Biden, and so forth will continue to weaponize useful idiots, often with ‘journalistic’ pieces like this one on ammo, in order to push the monopoly in the direction they want it.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.