Monday, November 07, 2005

Bullets Aren't Economic-Proof

Last night on the West Wing, the live debate strayed to the topic restricting bullet sales the same way we restrict gun sales. It reminded of me of a Chris Rock bit where he proposed a high tax on bullets so people couln't afford to kill each other.

These sound like nice ideas, but they lack an anchor in reality. Bullets are little more than hunks of metal. If the state makes it hard to buy them, you can bet a black market will arise overnight. Mafias and gangs will sell bullets to fund their activities in the same way they sell drugs or they sold alcohol during prohibition. Artifically kicking up the price of bullets will move money away from the accountable law-abiding firms and into the hands of crimminals.

That's only the beginning. When it's worth it to learn how to make bullet and it's profitable to buy the equipment, it's a very short jump to making the bullets we really don't want people to have such as those that pierce armor. (Yes these bullets are circulated anyway but they will become much more common and easy to get.)

Alcohol, drugs, prostitution, guns; these are all things where there was some kind of government control on them and every single one of them got their very own black market. Why should we think bullets are any different?


Anonymous said...

Bullets are already economical to make on your own. But they're not good for more than target shooting. A good bullet can't have flaws, be balanced, etc. Rhinos and other complex bullets are difficult to make. Rhinos are banned by the govenment because of they're armor piecering ability. If you're right about a plentiful black market for banned and expensive goods, then why can't you find cop killers in every street punk's piece?

David said...

I see it as a natural barrier to entry; the start up costs are just too high to make it worth it to make Rhinos. Especially since armor piercing bullets aren't really needed to get the jobs done.

Now let us suppose that it becomes worth it to learn how to make the basic bullet (since basic bullets ARE well used, its safe to assume that barriers to buy bullets would be sufficent). Once that skill is learned and the equipment bought, its a much smaller leap in fixed cost to Rhinos and the like (assuming, reasonably I'd say, that skills and equipment for the two types share some common ground).