Thursday, July 26, 2012

How much ammo does one person need?

Guns and Ammo

No, I'm not talking about the magazine. I am talking about Guns and I am talking about Ammo.

Actually, I did already talk about these once today. I had a great time on internet radio with Bennet Kelley (and here) on the CyberLaw & Business Report. We spent a half hour discussing some of the various points of purchasing guns and ammunition online. In light of last week's shooting (no, I'm not linking to it), we looked into the various rules and regs of buying guns, magazines, and ammunition.

The best thing about this is that I was able to walk Bennet and his listeners through what it takes to purchase these online, talk about how more regulations won't necessarily be a good thing, and how some common sense and education would definitely be a good thing.

Note to Gun Guys: DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER sell a personal firearm to someone across state lines or who even jokes about not being able to pass a NICS check without going through an FFL!

As a sidenote, I want to give a nod to HARO (Help A Reporter Out). This is a website set up to help reporters get into touch with subject specialists. I jumped on the mail list and within a few days I was on the web (and getting hits as a result).

Now on to business...

How much ammo does one person need?

Over the last few days I have been in a few conversations about the shooting in Aurora (nope, still not linking it). Each one included the question, "Why did he need six thousand rounds?"


A little voice in the back of my head snarked, "Because he couldn't afford seven?"

I had to ask why that was a problem. It wasn't like the shooter needed much. By all of the reports I have heard, the C-Mag in his M&P 15 jammed - but we have not heard when. His shotgun likely carried 5-8 rounds (several versions of the Remington Model 870 exist). The standard magazine for the Glock G22 holds 15 rounds. There are extended magazines available (similar to those used by the shooter in the Tucson Shooting), but there have been no reports of these being used. Totaling that, we are looking at about 123 rounds (barring any backup magazines or loose shotgun shells). With some number of those not being fired, this is less than 2% of his ammo stash. 

I'm just damn glad it wasn't stadium seating and that the C-Mag jammed. Seconds here... seconds there...

Shooters and Ammunition

I remember years ago (as a young Liberal Gun Guy) buying a box of shells,  going to the range, and shooting EVERY LAST ROUND. How many rounds were left at home? none. I couldn't afford any ammo other than what I put into the cinder cliff behind the target. Now? I'll shoot about half of what I buy (maybe). If I'm in a 100-round trap shoot, I'll get 150 shells and come home with 40-some. Sure, those extras get shot at some point, but they build up.

As a result of the conversations recently, I did some mental calculations. Given range bringbacks and the odd lots I have picked up along the way, I think I have about 1500 rounds of different types - 40 S&W, 12 gauge, .410, .30-06, 7.62x54R, .303, and .22. I think I also have some loose .45ACP (which I don't even have anymore...). Don't think I'm the only one. I didn't intend to get there. I just did. Now, if I was an active shooter (in a local-gun-club-regular-shoot-winner), I would be buying or reloading hundreds of rounds a week (high power rifle maybe being a little less).

Shotgun sports, 3-Gun, Cowboy Action Shooting, name it. If these folks want to stay on top of their game at the local/regional level, they will shoot (conservatively) 300-500 rounds a week - often a non-standard round. That is somewhere around 5,000 rounds in a few months. This is a supply that can't be supplied by your FLGS (Friendly Local Gun Store) or Wal-Mart.

Kim Rhode, two-time Gold Medalist in Double Trap, shoots 500-1000 rounds A DAY. Even on the south side of that (and taking a couple months of over the year), this comes up to more than 150,000 rounds over a year. Take that order to the Gun Shop up the street.

EDIT: I was reminded by a Facebook Friend that another reason competition shooters buy in bulk is to ensure that the ammunition is part of the same production lot. This ensures that differences from cartridge-to-cartridge and box-to-box are kept at a minimum.

Unfortunately, these aren't the folks we hear about. We hear about the folks stockpiling against armageddon, further government regulation, and zombies... OK, maybe not necessarily the last.

Also, unfortunately, we have the guy in Colorado. I don't know his deal. He had a lot of ammo. He also had a lot of issues (based on numerous articles and his appearance at his hearing. It does reflect poorly. I want to stress that while he had lots of ammo, he didn't apparently have a plan for it except to leave it in his apartment to burn it. This may give a tip to his knowledge of guns and ammo.

Ammunition in a fire will go nowhere - it needs a chamber to prevent a splitting case and a barrel to give direction. I have seen the aftereffects of a house fire on several hundred rounds of .30-06 stored in a wood case. It was a beautiful, semi-artistic piece of lead, mangled cartridge cases, and copper bullets.

The Upshot

Seeing as how he passed a series of background checks while purchasing four firearms over the previous several months, the knucklehead in question would have undoubtedly passed any sort of check someone would want to create for ammunition. There are legitimate reasons (sane or otherwise) to obtain or store bulk ammo. Registering bulk purchasers would be tantamount to registering gun owners. To my mind, this seems to be something that the majority of gun owners would oppose. I don't mind some regs and laws, but I don't want my name on a list.

Weak close, I know, but I had a good (long) day and I am glad I got to teach some folks about guns.

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