Monday, July 30, 2012

The other side of online ammo sales

The gun ban crowd seeks an end run on the issue. A bill to drastically limit Internet ammo sales is set to be be introduced in Congress this week. Sponsors say the move will stop potential criminals from obtaining huge arsenals of ammunition.

Baby Keurig vs so-called 'massive' ammo order
How huge are those so-called arsenals?

Here's what a box like those used to ship a thousand rounds of .223 rifle ammo looks like against a baby Keurig coffee maker. Pistol calibers take up a lot less space.

Yes, people involved in shooting sports often order a thousand rounds at a time. Sometimes they buy a lot more.  But a family of four can easily shoot through a thousand rounds in an afternoon at a gun  range. Urban and suburban shooters often travel significant distances to get access to an outdoor rifle range. When they get there, they want to make the trip worthwhile. Shipping rate cards also make it more practical to buy in larger lots. And shooters stock up when they find good buys online.

And let's not forget civilian ammo supplies have been spotty in recent years. Some calibers completely disappeared from store shelves (and from online merchants) for months in late 2008 and into 2009. It just makes sense for shooting sports enthusiasts to stock ahead enough to ride out those times of scant supply. If there was a possibility golf balls would be in short supply, I expect golfers would do the same.

Want some other reasons online ammo sales make sense?

Gun control advocates insist waiting periods save lives. Ammo sold online can take a week or more to arrive. Even orders shipped overnight (at punishing additional expense) likely take at least 24 hours to arrive. This compares to ammo sales in retail stores where you walk in, walk out in a matter of minutes.

Online ammo creates a paper trail to the buyer. Credit card orders and shipping manifests are part of the chain. Sellers often require a copy of a driver's license before accepting an online ammo order. Some also require an adult signature before the shipper (FedEx or UPS) can leave the package. This compares with walking into a store, paying cash, and walking out with no recorded customer disclosure. Ammunition is not shipped by U.S. Mail.

Retail stores stock only a fraction of the ammo makes and types available. Online ammo sales allow shooters to shop a variety of calibers, loads and manufacturers. The right ammo for the right use increases shooting safety.

Those seeking to ban online ammunition sales point to the Aurora gunman who reportedly acquired 6,000 rounds of ammunition prior to his attack on the theater. But is there any significance in his use of  the Internet or the number of rounds he acquired? No way anywhere near that much ammunition was used in the attack. If no red flags prevented his legal acquisition of arms (or his being picked for an exceptional $26,000 federal science study grant), there's likely nothing that would have triggered a halt to his ammo purchases - whether they were done in-person or made online.

Online ammo sales are simply being scapegoated by gun control advocates who see opportunity to exploit emotions as well as the ignorance of the non-shooting public. It's a game they've played many times before. It's probably not coincidence they revealed their proposed legislation on the same day criminal charges were announced in the Aurora shooting case.

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