Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cost-Benefit Ratio

A draconian ammunition restriction bill, AB962, passed the Commiefornia California Assembly on September 11 (interesting date, that) by a 44-31 vote. The only hope left for gun owners in that state is a veto by Governor Arnold "I made millions shooting guns in movies but you peasants shouldn't have any" Schwarzenegger.

Cabela's has already announced they will no longer be able to ship ammo to California customers if this bill is signed.

The misbegotten politicians who favor this legislation claim it will reduce crime by making it harder for criminals to obtain ammunition. After all, guns without ammo are just funny-shaped clubs, right?

Remember that point.

Let's look at just how much ammunition is likely to ever be used in crimes.

According to the CDC's WISQARS database, in 2006 (the most recent year for which complete figures are available) the total number of firearm fatalities from all causes was 30,896. The total number of firearm injuries from all causes was 71,417. That gives us a total of 102,313 total firearm incidents that resulted in death or injury regardless of cause. Causes can include criminals killed or injured by police, genuine accidents, and justified self defense, but let's add them all together to make sure we're not missing anything.

There is no record of how many rounds were fired during any given firearm incident, but let's just pull a number out of any handy body orifice and assign a value of 5 to this question. That would give a potential total number of 511,565 rounds fired in incidents resulting in injury or death during 2006.

How does that compare to the total number of rounds of ammunition purchased during a typical year?

According to the NRA, Americans typically buy about 7,000,000,000 rounds of ammunition annually. This past year, though, the amount has jumped to about 9,000,000,000,rounds. But let's stick with the lower number, just to ensure the results of our calculations look as bad as possible. Divide 511,565 rounds of possibly-criminal ammo by 7,000,000,000 rounds bought during an average year, and we get 0.00731% of ammo that might possibly be used in a crime.

That's 13,683.5 rounds not used in any crime for every 1 that might have possibly been.

And that's just ammo bought annually. I have hundreds of rounds in calibers I don't shoot so much any more that I've had longer than a year. Nobody knows how much ammunition is owned by private citizens in this country, and that's a good thing.

Based on the numbers, it seems like the burden this legislation puts on law-abiding gun owners in California is vastly greater than any possible impact on crime. Criminals have as many off-book avenues for obtaining ammunition as they do for obtaining guns.

Instead of reducing crime, it has much greater potential to reduce the number of law-abiding gun owners in California due to yet another onerous set of hoops they need to jump through just to remain law-abiding gun owners.

Unless that's just what those misbegotten politicians really wanted all along.

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