Connecticut Columnist's Bright Idea: Ban Bullets, Not Guns!

Is it just me, or are the gun control activists who think they’re really clever even more annoying than the ones who just want to take your guns away and have no idea how they’ll do it? A case in point; author Ron Berler, who has a column in the Hartford Courant arguing that we don’t need to ban firearms when we can just ban certain calibers of ammunition instead.

Today, one can walk into a gun shop and purchase, for instance, a .22, .38 or .44-caliber handgun. Most firearms are built to accommodate one size round only. Here’s what would happen if the manufacture of today’s standard-size rounds were outlawed, and .21, .37, or .43-caliber rounds took their place: Eventually, gun owners would run out of the old ammo, and their weapons would become paperweights.

We’d have the opportunity for a national gun policy do-over. New, tougher gun registration and ownership policies, some already favored by NRA membership, would be enacted in conjunction with the changeover in rounds calibration. Fresh attention could be paid to newer, research-vetted strategies, such as the universal adoption of smart-gun technology and limiting the size of rounds available to civilians. Police and military would keep their current firearms and ammunition, manufactured and distributed under strictest control.

Where do we even begin with Mr. Berler’s big idea? First off, banning ammunition for commonly owned firearms is just another way of banning those commonly owned firearms, and that’s gonna be a no-go from the Supreme Court. As the justices noted in their guidance in the Caetano case back in early 2016, which struck down a ban on stun guns;

The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,”

In other words, you can’t ban various calibers of ammunition, because it would render the arms that accept those calibers unusable, and that would violate the right to keep and bear arms.

But Berler’s argument doesn’t even make sense, because after he would render all those guns unusable, he then wants to put in place “tougher gun registration and ownership policies.” Why do you need to ban ammunition if you’re just going to turn around and pass the same old gun control laws that activists have been calling for in the first place? And why would the police keep their old firearms if the ammunition they need is no longer being made? Why wouldn’t they adopt all those new-fangled smart guns that Berler’s calling for?

Jesse Jannetta, a senior policy fellow for the Urban Institute, said such a plan “might have a substantial impact on mass shootings.” As for street violence, he added, “A lot of that is about the circulation of illegal guns, so maybe it would have a lot of impact there, also.”

How exactly would Berler’s plan do that? He doesn’t say, and neither does Jannetta. That’s because they have no idea how banning certain calibers of ammunition would stop a single violent crime. But wait… it gets even better.

A democracy sometimes requires that we sacrifice convenience for the public good. Passing through airport security is a hassle, but we accept it. It helps keep us safe. So would this proposal, even if it’s not an overnight solution. Law-abiding citizens could still own guns. And that is all the second amendment promises. It does not prohibit federal or state governments from regulating the type of weapon one may own

Yeah, passing through airport security is exactly like trying to turn legally owned firearms into paperweights by banning ammunition. It’s just a “sacrifice of convenience for the public good,” not an infringement on an individual right and a dramatic increase in State power.

Berler’s last sentence demonstrates he knows nothing at all about the issue. The Second Amendment promises that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Turning people’s legally owned firearms into metal clubs infringes on their right to bear those arms for self-defense. That’s ultimately Berler’s biggest problem (besides the impracticality of his proposal). He’s treating a constitutional right as if it is some burden to be overcome, some boulder to be rolled out of the way so that Progress can continue down a road paved with good intentions. If you’re going to treat a right as if it some kind of privilege, you may as well call for a full repeal of the Second Amendment instead of some cockamamie plan to ban all current calibers and force gun manufacturers to retool their plants, while also keeping the old assembly processes in place for military and law enforcement. Berler may believe he has a high caliber idea here, but in reality he’s shooting blanks.