Now You Can Be Sure the Bloomberg Talking Point Are Out There

As I’ve said before, when you see a pattern, it means it’s a coordinated campaign, and folks, we’re seeing a pattern. Same talking points as Milbank, to a tee.

Is it Title II, which eliminates liability on any shooting range built or operated with federal funding in whole or in part — if for example a deranged person commits a mass shooting on that firing range? The shooting range is free of liability in all cases, even if it knew a dangerous person was using the firing range and did nothing to alert the authorities.

Are people really committing mass shootings at firing ranges? Is this really a problem? I also LOVE this juxtaposition.

Is it Title I, which prohibits the entire federal government from addressing lead poisoning caused by ammunition or fishing tackle? Even though waterfowl hunters switched to non-toxic ammunition decades ago, and even though lead poisons people and wildlife alike, and even though there are non-toxic alternatives, this legislation would forever preclude the government from taking action.

Yes, there are very expensive and less effective non-toxic alternatives. There could be cheaper non-toxic alternatives, but …

And then there are the provisions eliminating all restrictions on the purchase of silencers, eliminating restrictions on armor-piercing bullets, and eliminating restrictions on carrying firearms across state lines.


There we are with the armor piercing bullets again, and you guys don’t see the articles I choose not to link, so you can expect this is a key Bloomberg talking point right now. You can’t, on one hand, tell us that we have to adopt alternatives to lead ammunition, and then, on the other hand, outlaw those alternatives. That’s what the “armor piercing” ammunition law currently does.

Let me just re-establish for those of you who might be new to this: the armor piercing ammunition issue is bullshit. Let me go over a brief history of this issue.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when this fake issue was turned into a full on scare by the media and Hollywood, people were demanding that “something must be done.” So politicians started drafting bills which were “something,” and therefore “must be done.” Early attempts by Ted Kennedy to draft a bill based on the ability to penetrate soft body armor would have banned most rifle ammunition. Nearly all centerfire rifle ammunition will penetrate body armor typically worn by police. Not just scary “assault weapons.” Not big bad .50 BMGs. The .30-30 Grandpa shot deer with for years will slice through soft body armor like a hot knife through butter, no matter what the bullet is made of. Why? Rifle bullets travel at two to three times the speed of handgun bullets, and speed is what gets you through kevlar.

Banning all rifle ammunition not being politically feasible, politicians looking for that “something” that “must be done” started focusing on handguns that could shoot bullets that were capable of penetrating soft body armor. That’s a much smaller class of ammunition, because nearly all handgun rounds except very powerful ones are stopped by soft body armor (I know, I know, it depends on the level of the vest, but for simplicity’s sake here). Still, a performance based criteria would ban large swathes of popular handgun ammunition. That was just fine by people who were in favor of banning handguns, so there was a real chance this could happen.

As a compromise, instead of focusing on performance, legislation could focus on the materials the bullet was made from, and based on whether or not it was designed to be fired from a handgun (basically it had to be a lead bullet). This would only ban a very small subset of ammunition that didn’t see much civilian (or law enforcement, for that matter) use. It was “something” that the politicians could take to their hysterical constituents demanding that an armor piercing ammunition bill “must be done.” And so it was done.

But lawmaking by Congress is only ever part of the equation. Federal bureaucrats have enormous leeway to make rules to implement a particular law. Under both the Clinton Administration and the Obama Administration that’s exactly what happened. Suddenly, it wasn’t “designed to be fired from a handgun” it was “can be fired from a handgun.” The new rule became if there was a pistol that could fire the ammunition, that ammunition became subject to the armor piercing law and could be banned. This was used to great effect to ban cheap 5.56x45mm and 5.45x39mm ammunition during the Obama Administration. What SHARE would do is to set the rule back to what it was intended to be, and eliminate the mechanism by which two hostile administrations have used to warp the law into something it was never meant to be. It was meant to be a meaningless feel good measure that didn’t really ban much of anything. It was NEVER intended to be a mechanism to ban large categories of rifle ammunition. But that’s what it was turned into.

But hey, why write an article on that? Why take the concerns of shooters seriously? Why try to learn something before just writing up an op-ed from Bloomberg’s talking points?

12 thoughts on “Now You Can Be Sure the Bloomberg Talking Point Are Out There”

  1. Our Gun club (built in the 50’s) Tests the water in the stream that runs through it. Every year we get the same results. The lead levels measured at the start of the range are the same as the levels at the end of the range property (0). The Bullets form a layer of lead oxide and become inert. Kind or ruins one of their inane talking points. Every now and then we undertake a lead recovery action, and remove a couple hundred pounds of lead out of each backstop. It is amazing that all of the lead bullets are white!

    1. The thing your club is doing that is responsible is testing. What you report isn’t true in every case. But, don’t allow your tests to give you false confidence that you have no lead problems.

      I did considerable study on that issue at one time, and there have been examples of gun clubs polluting the surrounding groundwater with lead, usually from shot from trap or skeet ranges. Remediation can be expensive, and in the worst cases, impossible.

      I think “groundwater” could be an issue, and the lead levels in flowing surface water may prove relatively meaningless. I’d suggest that a one time test of the surrounding groundwater by sinking temporary, shallow wells may be more indicative.

      I am aware of the argument that the lead oxide that forms on bullets or pellets forms an inert, protective coating, but after my past reading I find it a bit too glib for my tastes. Again, there have been examples where it proved not to be true. My guess as a layman is that the important factor may be the acidity of the water or earth involved, and, I recall that many examples of severe industrial lead pollution resulted from lead oxides themselves, from the days when those were used as the base for industrial primers for painting steel structures, railway cars, etc.

      Now that I’ve sounded like I’m arguing against the shooters’ position, I’ll throw in my own perspective, which is that I think the lead levels in water that are considered unacceptable are unreasonably low, but there is nothing we can do about that. For now the standards are what they are and unlikely to change for the better. The problem with excessively glib arguments for our position is that most of them would be irrelevant if our opponents started to aggressively target individual gun clubs under existing law.

      Both the EPA and NSSF have/had specific documents available online, on the issue of range lead. When I started my own readings on the subject, they provided my original direction. It is better to know you have a potential problem, before your opponents know it.

      1. I’ve also wondered how much contamination comes from the lead oxide that’s a by product of primer ignition versus the elemental lead in bullets.

        1. I think that both of us as non-chemists need to be careful with our technical semantics. I think the compounds from primers you are talking about are more accurately referred to as lead salts. I also suspect the corrosion on metallic lead (like bullets) that we are talking about, aren’t just “oxides,” but also may be other compounds.

          Lead salts from primers are indeed known to be a potential problem on indoor ranges that aren’t adequately ventilated. So too are the minute amounts of gaseous lead vapor that are created when a lead bullet strikes the hard backstop. That’s why a properly ventilated indoor range has a net air flow downrange. However I don’t think those sources are much of a problem outdoors, where they are small to begin with, and are then extremely diluted by air. Consider that it is acceptable to vent the fumes from an indoor range into the atmosphere.

          Regarding metallic lead and the body: I knew a guy who carried around five ChiCom SMG bullets clustered around his heart, for about twenty years. He eventually died relatively young, but I’m not sure it was necessarily directly from his wounds, in those pre-open heart surgery days. In any case, lead in his body was not the problem. On a much smaller scale, my mother had appendicitis, apparently excited by a lead shot pellet in her appendix, but no lead poisoning from its presence was detected.

          Back to the question of lead salts, it is my understanding that using dirty wheelweights as a source of lead for bullets or sinkers can be a minor hazard, because of the compounds that form on them due to exposure to road salt in northern winters. But, it’s a hazard easily avoided by simple handwashing. Don’t blacken your hands with any source of lead, and then sit down to eat a sandwich without washing them.

          Part of my warning in my initial comment was intended to be this: When I was briefly an ad hoc student of the issue of range lead some years ago, I learned that a club can get itself into hot water under existing environmental laws, even when there is no empirical evidence of lead pollution. A few nights of study of precedents can show you how. Also, the NRA can refer clubs to sympathetic, pragmatic environmental consultants regarding the problem. They can seem a little pricey, as I recall, but they’ll be cheaper than the first bill from an attorney if someday an anti-gun, wacko environmentalist discovers how easily they can make trouble for you. Better to have your ducks in a row beforehand.

          1. As one who gets paid to solve commercial and industrial HVAC design problems, I’ve seen my share of public and government indoor ranges. As noted, there’s always a net flow of air in a lamellar pattern towards the backstop, with a substantial number of air changes per hour, but newer designs also use good filtration of the exhaust before it’s discharged; that air is nowhere close to clean enough to vent directly. I’ve even seen an automated spent lead collection system used, paid for with our tax dollars. Knowing what we do about lead and lead dust, I certainly wouldn’t want to be the guy changing the filters!

  2. I would also point out that much of the “AP bullet” legislation is based on Hollywood myth; e.g. Oklahoma’s definition:

    “”Restricted bullet” means a round or elongated missile with a core of less than sixty percent (60%) lead and having a fluorocarbon coating, which is designed to travel at a high velocity and is capable of penetrating body armor”

    So, the infamous “teflon bullets are designed to slide right through Kevlar” argument. Or something.

    1. “So, if we coat these Murder Cop Killer Death Bullets with a different slick thing, they’re totez legal now? Awesome!”

      (I love how it never defines what counts as “high velocity” – though it implies that some normal firearms wouldn’t count, because otherwise why have the clause?

      A good lawyer ought to get it thrown out for vagueness.

      Assuming anyone was ever prosecuted under it, which might be hard, practically – even the Deadly Super Murder Black Talon UltraKill bullet of the early 90s was over 60% lead, no?)

  3. I’ve said for a long time the combined push for AP ammo bans and lead ammo bans was a back door gun ban. What are we going to start shooting? Bismuth bullets? Why yes in fact I’d like to raise ammo prices another 40% please….

    1. There’s “always” silver. (To be sure, “always” has to be in quotes, because of its price.)

      A few years ago I read a series of articles where an author who wrote about werewolves decided she was going to figure out how to cast silver bullets, and whether they would be as good as lead ones.

      On the one hand: pure silver is about as hard as some of the harder lead alloys, so it’s reasonable from that point of view.

      On the other: you’re not going to be able to cast silver bullets by melting down your silver of sufficiently sentimental value in the shed outside usually used for casting lead bullets while the werewolf is trying to tear it down. Silver melts at a much higher temperature, so it’s not going to be easy to melt it, and it also expands and contracts more, so the lead molds in that shed are going to produce bullets that are too small for your pistol….

  4. Bloomberg is also dumping money into TV ad spots in favor of the Cook County sweetened beverage tax (which is in effect, but going over like a lead balloon).
    The county board of commissioners is due to revote on it sometime in October.

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