Limit Ammunition To Control Hand Guns

April 30, 1975

Those who would ban hand guns might well consider the old riddle: “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?”

A few cities have adopted legislation prohibiting pistols, revolvers and the so-called “Saturday Night Specials” in a effort to halt the soaring crime rate.

So far, the effort has been like trying to empty the ocean with a tea spoon. The next town over sells cheap weapons, and no questions asked.  .450 bushmaster ammo

Congress, therefore, seems about ready to consider the controversial proposal seriously. Certainly only a nation-wide ban has any chance to be effective.

I support hand gun legislation, but oppose attempts to curtail shoulder guns.

Pocket guns, capable of being concealed, are short range weapons of surprise and vengeance. Rifles, however, are carried openly. They are useful for sport and defense against armies of invasion.

Gun control is impractical simply because of the ease with which hand guns can be built, transported and concealed.

Which brings us to the chicken and egg puzzle.

Exactly three years ago in this column, I suggested that we give up trying to limit the gun and approach the problem through the more vulnerable route of ammunition.

Gun control advocates dismissed the idea as “simplistic.” The late Congressman Frank Bow circulated the column to a few gun-control legislators but got an indifferent reaction.

Now comes an Illinois citizens’ group called the Committee for Handgun Control, Inc., which is seeking to force the US. Government to ban the sale of hand gun ammunition as a means of controlling cheap hand guns.

The group has petitioned the new federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban ammunition on grounds it is hazardous, and that the commission has jurisdiction over hazardous substances.

This is the hand gun committee’s second attempt to force the commission. A year ago the commission ruled that banning ammunition would amount to a “back door” ban on hand guns, a direct violation of law that established the commission.

Nevertheless the hand gun committee has won a court suit requiring the commission to reconsider, which it is now doing.

Two months ago the product safety commission asked the public to comment on the proposal to ban ammunition. “Several hundred thousand” replies have flooded in.

Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court may decide the issue.

While hand guns can be manufactured and smuggled easily, the production of bullet-quality gunpowder requires highly developed technology.

In addition, the manufacture of a shell casing requires a large, expensive, highly accurate stamping press. Only a very few factories, in the United States are capable of making primer shells which sportsmen sometimes fill with commercially manufactured gunpowder.

In short, there are only a few sources of supply for powder and shells. The supply should be relatively easy to regulate.

Cut off the supply of ammunition, and hand guns will rust into quaint souvenirs.

Rifle-calibre ammunition could continue to be made available readily in hardware and sports stores.

Revolver-calibre cartridges, however, could be furnished only to the military and law enforcement authorities. Those with a legitimate need for revolver shells for their freely-owned – but registered – hand guns would have to obtain them from the police after positive identification and finger printing. Purchases might be limited to five shells, and empty shells could be returned for replacement

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