The thin blue line is getting thinner, warns Salon's Alex Seitz-Wald. It seems that after months of politicians throwing gun control proposals against the wall in D.C. and the various state capitals to see what sticks (and around politicians, lots of stuff gets awfully sticky), gun owners had the unmitigated gall to take them seriously and stock up on guns and ammunition while they can. And now police departments are having trouble buying ammunition. And gun owners are just being nutty, says Seitz-Wald, because politicians didn't mean it. Well, maybe they meant it, but nothing much is going to become law. And even if it did, won't you think of our brave boys (and girls) in blue?
Dayne Pryor is the chief of police in Rollingwood, Texas, a small suburb of Austin. "I've been in law enforcement for 31 years and I've been a chief for eight years," he sighs. "And it's just one of those things that I never thought I'd have a problem with, especially being in Texas."
Pryor's problem, he explains to Salon, is that he's having trouble finding ammunition and firearms for his officers, thanks to a national shortage. The cause? A run on supply from gun lovers afraid that Congress or state legislatures will impose new gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
"Everyone is thinking, they're going to stop manufacturing, or they're going to be taxing and all this, so it's just this mentality of, let's all buy up everything now just in case. And it hurts us," Pryor said. "This is ridiculous. This shouldn't be happening to law enforcement."
It's all so unnecessary, says Seitz-Wald. Don't we know that there's nothing to fear?
No one has seriously proposed bans on any kind of guns aside from assault rifles, and even that proposal was dead upon arrival (and now it's really dead). And no one in power — Chris Rock doesn't count — has proposed major restrictions on bullets, making the run on ammunition particularly unfounded. …
In fact, the "gun control" package emerging in Congress will not even touch a single gun, but deals entirely with the process around guns — background checks, trafficking laws, mental health, etc.
Nobody wants to restrict guns. They only want to restrict access to guns. That's entirely different!
I've noted the run on guns and ammunition before. Reloading supplies, too. Then, as now, the run was caused by politicians proposing restrictive laws, including background checks for ammunition purchases. As unlikely to pass as those proposals seem, especially as panic recedes and public support for further firearm restrictions dies down, at least gun owners did politicians the courtesy of taking them at their words. In fact, many high-profile political-appointee police chiefs endorsed those restrictions. Now government officials and their armed enforcers thin blue line against the criminal element are having trouble buying ammunition, just like everybody else. Boo fucking hoo.
Oh wait. Did President Obama just go on television today to reiterate his demand that we all get with the program and support tighter restrictions on firearms? Nothing to see here. Move along. Pay no attention to the man behind the insincere frown of disappointment.
Hey, there's no doubt that gun and ammunition companies are doing booming business at the moment, falling behind on orders because they just can't meet demand. Want that to stop? Get politicians to stop threatening to impose restrictive laws. Until then, people will certainly buy what they can, while they can.
Oh, and if cops are running short on ammunition, maybe they could ask the Department of Homeland Security to share. Fifteen members of Congress recently wrote (PDF) to Janet Napolitano to ask why DHS needs to buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammo when the federal government is pleading poverty.