Home > Things to be Outraged by, Uncategorized > Gimme Back My Bullets

Gimme Back My Bullets

For full effect open this in another window while reading (if you’re a lefty open this instead).  The mayor of Baltimore proposed a new tax of $1 for every bullet sold.  This is absolute proof that the people supporting these things are either complete idiots or actually purposely want to tear down the last line of defense between the people and a tyrannical government.  I’ve gotta start with the basic argument for the right to bear arms.  I’ve been over this before but if you’re listening to the second song, chances are this has never occurred to you. (I’ve never heard a “liberal” say “yes an armed citizenry is important to secure liberty but I just think it’s worth sacrificing that safeguard to reduce crime a little.”  They alway say something like “well all you NRA people want everyone to have a bazooka.”  Seriously that’s the exact line they all say every time….)

On Earth, liberty is the exception!  Most people who have lived on Earth have lived under poverty and oppression.  The few examples of societies that have valued and protected individual liberty have been the result a concerted intellectual effort to determine how such a thing could be achieved and a significant physical struggle to implement it.  It requires military force to implement and protect it!  Leftists should know this, after all it was their hero Mao that said “all political power grows from the barrel of a gun.”  In order to have any kind of prosperous society you must have a government to enforce property rights and enforce contracts.  This function requires the government to have enough physical strength to overpower any individual or small group of individuals.  But when you create this apparatus, there is a constant threat that it could be used to enslave the people rather than ensure their liberty.  The only way to prevent this is for the people collectively to have enough physical strength to overpower the government should they lose control of it and to have some mechanism in place to organize them into action if the government crosses certain lines.

Obviously, in America the collective action mechanism is what is encapsulated in the constitution and the keystone that makes it possible is the 2nd amendment.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

Most Americans today were born into (relative) freedom and therefore take it for granted.  I don’t think most of them have even given a though to what systems are required to protect their liberty, they just think that because it’s always (since they can remember) been there that it will always be there.  This causes them to make poor decisions.  Consider the bullet tax.  As I see it there are 3 reasons a person would support such a tax.  1.  They don’t think weapons are important for protecting our liberty, either because they haven’t even thought about it or they reject the above argument for some reason, they don’t care about guns and they think it will reduce crime.  2.  They agree with the above argument but think the expected reduction in crime is worth the risk to liberty.  3.  They agree with the above argument and they actually want this safeguard removed.  (They also may just want more money for the government but Rolley denies this so let’s take him at his word….)

If you fall into one of the first two categories (which I will lump together from now on), then banning guns sort of makes sense.  I don’t think it would reduce crime that much and obviously I don’t think it’s worth it but at least it’s possible to see why someone might believe differently.  But consider the effects of a bullet tax.  What behavior is this expected to change? According to Rolley it increases the cost of committing a crime.  This is true but let’s put our economist hats on and consider how much this increase in price is likely to reduce the quantity of crime.

How many bullets do you think the average drug dealer shoots in a year?  I have no idea but let’s be pretty liberal and imagine he shoots 100 bullets per year in the course of committing crimes.  So you increased the cost of being a drug dealer by $100/year (I’m assuming here that he doesn’t just go outside Baltimore to buy his bullets because no doubt if they get it there they will suddenly realize that it doesn’t work unless it’s done at the Federal level and call up Cass Sunstein).  Is this going to put drug dealers out of business?  I think not.

But wait, maybe it affects the number of bullets they use.  Maybe the drug dealer upon finding himself in a situation where he would otherwise be willing to take the life of another human being for whatever reason, will now stop and reconsider because of the extra dollar that this will cost him…..No you don’t think that’s very likely?  Well maybe a person who has finally decided to off their spouse will change their mind because of that dollar?  The guy robbing liquor stores will have to spend an extra $10 to fill up his clip maybe this will make him get a real job instead.  And certainly the people who shoot up schools and workplaces and then commit suicide will be deterred when they find that they will have to spend an extra $50 on bullets.  Stop me when I’ve made my point…. Just try to imagine a single crime that will be prevented by a $1 tax on bullets.  If you can think of one please post it in the comments so that I will have a comment and everyone can see the mental gymnastics that your side is willing to go through to justify this nonsense.

So what would a $1 bullet tax likely accomplish?  Two things that I can see.  First of all, people who have guns are still going to have guns.  What they probably would do is not train as much (possibly not at all).  Currently range ammo for a 9mm runs about 20-25 cents, so if you go to the range and shoot a hundred rounds it costs you $25.  A little more than going to a movie but it doesn’t break the bank.  Now add a $1 tax per bullet and it costs you $125.  Think that will have an effect on the amount of practice people have?  So that’s a great idea, let’s reduce the training of all the gun owners in the country, that will make us a lot safer.

Second, people who actually think guns are necessary for the defense of liberty tend to stockpile a lot of ammo.  Obvioulsy, the ammo is an important component to the collective defense of liberty.  Add a $1 tax per bullet and this will drastically decrease people’s willingness to stockpile ammo.  But why would you want that?  These bullets sitting in the safe’s of NRA members are not increasing crime, they are just sitting there providing a safeguard against tyranny.  So which do you think it is 1, 2, or 3?  For most people I think it’s 1 actually, those people have to wake up.  But the politicians who propose this stuff must have thought about it enough to realize that there’s no way this will reduce crime.  If not, they are stupid.  I mean really, really stupid.  Ether one should bother you.

  1. J Thomas
    March 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I don’t support gun control because too many people want guns. If a tiny fraction of a percent of the population wanted guns, and 80% wanted guns illegal, then I’d probably go with the 80%. But if it was 60% that wanted stronger registration and 40% who hated it, that’s too much opposition. And it isn’t 60:40, it’s less than that.

    But independent of gun control, I want to say that it’s stupid to claim that personal guns protect us from the US government or from a foreign army if the US military got defeated.

    Compare to Iraq. Iraq had a whole lot of AK47s. And a whole lot of great sniper rifles. And those didn’t protect Iraq at all from the US military. We kept an occupation going as long as we wanted to and their automatic weapons were almost completely useless against us. The RPGs made a difference. The IEDs made a big difference. Not enough to persuade us to go home but enough to give us thousands KIA and tens of thousands with brain damage.

    I figure, if the US government tries to take on too much power and the US military sides with the public and the Constitution, we’ll be OK. If the US government takes away our liberty and the military goes along, no amount of handguns and sporting guns will make much difference. But I haven’t heard much of an attempt to legalize RPGs and IEDs etc.

    It’s a stupid argument against gun control.

    But I oppose gun control anyway. We don’t need that stupid argument against it.

  2. Free Radical
    March 7, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    For the record defending against foreign invaders is not really the important part of the argument. If you think millions of people with guns is not more of a deterrent against usurpation of power than millions of people without guns, I think you are being silly, but if you can’t see the validity of that argument, there’s probably no point in arguing about it with you.

  3. Free Radical
    March 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    I can’t resist a bit of an argument. Haven’t you noticed how people with hardly any serious weaponry whatsoever have managed to topple governments in Egypt and Ukraine recently? Their armies had tanks and bombers and stuff like that too. It’s way to much of a simplification to just say that “the military sides with the public” or “the military sides with the government.” Yeah if a million militiamen in Texas tried to rebel and the whole U.S. military was against them they wouldn’t have much of a chance. But things are not always that cut and dry. You want to strike a balance where a handful of people can’t overthrow the government but a large majority still can. If you just give up on that notion entirely, you’re basically just taking your chances with tyranny. I tend to take Churchill’s view.

    “Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.”

    You can say that a hundred million people with guns against the U.S. military has “only a precarious chance of survival” but I’d still rather hang onto that precarious chance than eliminate all hope.

  4. J Thomas
    March 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    “You can say that a hundred million people with guns against the U.S. military has “only a precarious chance of survival” but I’d still rather hang onto that precarious chance than eliminate all hope.”

    We both oppose gun control, so this is strictly an academic argument.

    We’re looking at the hypothetical case that we get a tyrannical government and the US military sides with the government. This is more likely than it was in, say, Vietnam days because we have more of a professional army and more like professional reserves.

    We used to have a small professional army and a large reserve that was not well-trained or well-armed but that was drawn from the civilian population and reflected civilian values. Now we have a highly professional army and reserves that mostly used to be professionals. The military is more separate from the civilians than it has ever been, and also more powerful. And it has a whole lot of live-fire training at the tasks of suppressing civilians.

    They know precisely how to barricade one city block and search every building for weapons and money, and confiscate whatever they find. And repeat that throughout a city, gradually disarming a population.

    They have armor that makes small-arms mostly irrelevant. If you’re a great sniper maybe you can stay the right distance away for a long time, waiting for your target to raise his arm precisely the right amount so you can put a bullet down his sleeve. It isn’t going to win any wars.

    If it comes to millions of americans defeating the US army, it will involve making pipe bombs and IEDs, probably making the explosives, etc. Also sabotaging the military production lines etc.

    What would probably work better would be to not fight them at all. Get a bunch of pretty girls to explain to them why it’s better to defend the Constitution. That came close to working for the Czechs when the Russians invaded. The USSR had a great big army and a tradition of obedience etc, too big for anything to really work against them. If it was all Americans with no other country for the army to defend, their production lines and rear areas all in America, it would probably be easier to get them to reconsider.

    All it takes to get the US army to fight you is to shoot at them. Give them a clearly-defined enemy and they’ll fight. That might not be the best approach. Ideally you want them on your side, and if enough of them get disaffected they’ll be kind of neutralized.

    At that point the guns might matter. Most places the communists took over, a small dedicated group of communists took over in the middle of a lot of chaos when nobody was ready to stop them. Then they had to rule without a lot of strong support so they had to work hard to stop opposition, and it turned repressive, and after awhile (or sometimes immediately) one guy would take over and run a repressive dictatorship. If the army is split and not fighting anybody, a disorganized bunch of civilians with guns might stop something like a communist plot at the beginning.

    But I’m afraid it’s more likely we’d get a bunch of Americans killing each other for trivial reasons. If for example we got a lot of conservatives killing liberals (and to a much lesser extend the other direction too) that would create wounds that would take a long time to heal. That happened in Indonesia, they killed somewhere between 300,000 and 2 million suspected communists and I think it hurt the nation in the long run.

    It takes a lot of hypothetical to get the US military supporting an undemocratic government and the population rising up with small arms to oppose them. It doesn’t seem particularly plausible that it will happen, and if it does happen it seems to me plausible that we’ll do better to try other methods to stop it. I’ll agree it isn’t totally impossible.

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