Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bullet trap

Currently underway: A push to outlaw lead bullets. Of course the real reason is not because they are lead but because they are bullets. The pretext is that we are doing huge damage to the environment by shooting lead bullets. California is leading the Greek chorus on this one but legislators elsewhere are taking up the chant.

Notice that bullets made of nearly anything besides lead were banned years ago, on a pretext; see http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921#a_17

So then, you cannot make them of "tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium." Add lead to the list and there are few substances left that posses the density and hardness needed. Those that remain are costly in themselves or too difficult to make bullets out of.

The law covers bullets "which may be used in a handgun." The breadth of that "may be" is apparently a matter of regulatory discretion, and exceptions by ruling may be granted by the Attorney General. But as the law is now construed, it covers some rifle calibers, as well as all pistol calibers.

Folks, this bother over lead bullets is an attempt to shut us into a box, in which we cannot make bullets out of anything. Of course, the right to bear arms includes ammunition, for a gun is useless without bullets, but foes of the Second Amendment will keep trying. There are some people in politics who are permanently disconsolate over the idea that you have the ability to shoot someone, even if you have no plans to do so, and they wish to deny your right to posses the ability. They do not think you should want the ability. They do not think you should ever need it. While I am sure all of us would like to live in a world like that, that is not the world we now have. (If we did live in a place like that, gun control laws would be pointless anyway, for no one would ever be gunning for anyone else, and so no one would ever need shooting.)

One answer: Limit, perhaps, the use of lead bullets in some critical wildlife areas, pending closer examination of whether lead really is the problem that is claimed, and at the same time, de-criminalize all the other bullet materials.

Side note: I'm by now half sick of people trying to legislate in matters they know nothing about. What is worse, our dear leaders don't want to know about them. They do not listen to attempts to advise and inform. Their preconceptions and prejudices are enough for them to go on. For a veneer of justification, they will fund studies to support their views--but none that challenge them. On that basis, they wish to micromanage things for everyone else. Does that seem like "limited government" to you? Do you feel infringed yet?

Further fulmination: Even if you thought the ban on non-lead bullets was a good idea in 1986, it has outlived its usefulness, if it had some to begin with. Advances in body armor permit a rethinking of the law's purpose as well as its side effects. There has always been--even before firearms--an arms race between weapons and armor. At this time, armor is winning the race, due to growing understanding of how impacts may be trapped and dispersed. The bullet law we now have makes assumptions based on armor technology older than many of today's cops.

My prediction: The very next thing out in cop vests will give full Level III protection (that's higher than IIIA) and will be something you can stand to wear all day.

If they next try to ban silver bullets, look out. The Lone Ranger will be on his high horse about that one.

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