One of Our Many Gun Problems: Bullets are Cheap and Easy to Get
It’s been a week since the massacre in Uvalde. Yep, only one week since 19 school children and two teachers in a fourth-grade classroom were mercilessly slaughtered by a deranged 18-year-old with an AR-15. Yes, I understand the debate — mental illness or gun? — but it is a flawed binary. It’s both. You have to be deranged to shoot your grandmother in the face and then murder a classroom of kids. That’s not behavior of the mentally well. What the right doesn’t seem to understand is that that is not the point.
Sadly, disgustingly, there have been more than a dozen mass shootings in the country since. While both you and I were offline this weekend enjoying the beautiful weather and commemorating Memorial Day, there were 14 mass shootings across America. We are all just so de-sensitized to these horrors at this point that the “smaller” ones don’t make the news. Perhaps if the media reported on every one like they do the “big” ones, we might understand what a constant plague gun violence actually is on America.
Let’s put that all aside for a second and let’s look at the actual physical object that continues to wreak havoc, the lead-and-copper projectile being shot at a velocity of 2,900 feet per second: the bullet. We can argue all day long about whether people kill people or guns kill people, but technically, it is the bullet that does the killing. I don’t mean to be cheeky. I just think examining each part of the nasty equation that leads to a shooting is important. And this one gets overlooked too often. Part of the problem here is that bullets are (a) too cheap, and (b) too easy to get.
The Uvalde shooter used an AR-15. He bought 1,600 rounds of ammunition, and he carried more than 1,000 rounds into the school with him. Each bullet is a “round,” and 1,000 rounds retail for about $500. While bullet prices vary, from as cheap as five-to-six cents per round for the standard rifle to upwards of $1.50, ammunition for the AR-15 is about 50 cents per bullet. That’s a rather cheap price to pay for the ability to slaughter humans en masse. Would the shooter have carried out such a deadly act if, say, the bullets were $10/round, if 1,000 rounds cost $10,000? Obviously, we can’t say for sure, but there must be a number that makes such an act simply too expensive.