Washington Post: We Should Regulate Ammunition

by William Teach | January 7, 2016 7:49 am

The Washington Post prints an op-ed by Ann Brown, who was the “chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1994 to 2002.” Hey, isn’t referring to her as “Chairman” sexist? Anyhow, she thinks she has the common sense solution

America should regulate bullets[1]

When I chaired the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, I was grateful that we had authority to regulate lead in household paint. Banning the use of lead-based paint in homes has prevented brain damage in countless children over the years.

So why wouldn’t Congress allow us authority over another dangerous consumer product often made with lead?

Specifically, why not bullets?

On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled a package of executive actions that he hopes will reduce gun deaths in the United States. I urge him to put one more proposal on the table: regulating ammunition. The idea is workable, and Americans could support it.

This idea isn’t new. In 1974, the CPSC’s first chairman made clear his belief that the agency could probably regulate ammunition, and a court agreed — whereupon a frightened Congress passed laws[2] making it impossible even to try. Now is the time for the president to begin pushing to correct that mistake.

Perhaps she missed that it would require Congress to pass a new law. Anyhow, Ms. Brown positions ammunition control in a way that seems oh-so-reasonable, noting that 80% of citizens agreed with regulating ammunition in a 2013 Fox News poll[3]. She ends the op-ed with “It’s time to start exploring sensible ways to stop gun violence and save lives by regulating ammunition.” How would she do this? Note this paragraph

Do I say this swayed by all the horrific mass shootings we have seen in the past few years? Only in part. These are the tragic, visible tip of an iceberg. While mass shootings attract headlines and our grief, bigger problems with guns often go unnoticed: the hundreds killed annually[4] in intimate-partner violence; those killed by kids too young to know what pulling a trigger can do; the 21,000 Americans[5] who commit suicide with a firearm each year.

This very much sounds like she means to create a ban on ammunition purchases, despite later “common sense” restrictions. And this all means an increase in federal government authority, in her mind. She notes that the Consumer Product Safety Commission worked with manufacturers and “It didn’t ban cribs, walkers, toasters — or paint. It worked out ways to address what made them dangerous — and saved children in the process.” How do you do that with ammunition? Bueller? Bueller?

The same flexible approach can work with ammunition. When someone who may be dangerous is prevented from buying ammunition, any gun he has hidden becomes like a car without gas: a useless hunk of metal.

Who decides they’re dangerous? What are the standards? She wants to ban on-line purchases, mandate background checks, license ammo purchases. While these seem common sense…hey, I have no problem with a background check or a license for myself: I know I’m not dangerous, no criminal issues, I rarely even carry the weapon outside the house…who decides the standards? Might there be mission creep? Once that genie is out of the box, how big and intrusive does it get?

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove[6]. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach[7].

  1. America should regulate bullets: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-should-regulate-bullets/2016/01/06/62de9322-b3dc-11e5-a76a-0b5145e8679a_story.html
  2. Congress passed laws: http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/12_02_08.pdf
  3. 2013 Fox News poll: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/18/fox-news-poll-twice-as-many-favor-more-guns-over-banning-guns-to-reduce-violent.html
  4. hundreds killed annually: http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2014.pdf
  5. 21,000 Americans: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm
  6. Pirate’s Cove: http://www.thepiratescove.us/
  7. @WilliamTeach: http://twitter.com/WilliamTeach

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