Another Idiot That Doesn’t Understand Economics or Crime But Wants to Meddle with Both

There is stupid and then there is extremely stupid. Joe Huffman found an example of the latter in the form of a person named Otis Rolley who thinks adding a $1.00 tax to each bullet [PDF] will help reduce gun crime:

Reducing the violence in our neighborhoods will take a full commitment from the Mayor’s office, the police, neighborhood and community leaders, and faith leaders. It will take a partnership across the city.

To do this, as Mayor, Otis will:


— Impose a $1 per bullet tax on all bullet purchases in the city;


Impose a $1 per bullet tax. It is undeniable that we have to do more to reduce the devastating impact gun violence is having on our community. While the courts have consistently ruled against significant gun control legislation, there is still a way to decrease crime: substantially increase the cost of its’ commission.

Increasing the cost of guns won’t work because many criminals don’t purchase new guns and they can be borrowed or even rented in some areas. Therefore, as Mayor, Otis will move to impose a $1 per bullet tax (or about $50 per pack). That will increase substantially the financial cost of committing a crime and, unlike guns, bullets cannot be shared after their initial use. This will also dramatically cut back on the random firings that too often happen around holidays and celebrations.

That is a lot of herp derp to put between two blockquote tags. Here’s what Mr. Rolley’s plan will accomplish:

— Punishing legitimate gun owners who wish to do business in the city by buying ammunition;
— Punish stores selling ammunition;
— Nothing else;

Mr. Rolley doesn’t understand the basic concepts of economics or crime. First you have the economic issue that this type of city-wide tax would cause. If a box of ammunition in Baltimore costs $50.00 more than anywhere else due to such a tax gun owners are just going to buy their ammunition outside of the city (either by traveling or, more likely, ordering it online). What this tax would effectively do is drive business out of the city and that’s normally not considered an acceptable economic goal to most people.

Then you have the whole concept of crime. Criminals have the same options available to when it come to purchasing ammunition elsewhere but they also have another option, theft. If somebody is willing to commit a violent crime chances are they will have no problem going down to the local Wal-Mart and stealing ammunition. There is a large disparity between stealing and murder but chances are pretty high that a person willing to commit the former will also be willing to commit the latter.

And there is always the fact that ammunition can be manufactured. Many gun owners, myself included, also reload ammunition for a hobby and it may come as a shock to anti-gunners but bullets can be cast out of melted down lead. It’s true. You can go around town stealing wheel weights off of peoples’ cars, melt them down as they’re made of lead, and cast them into bullets. In that case Mr. Rolley’s proposed tax idea would lead to people making their own bullets and a epidemic of shaky cars. Lead can also be found in other places like fishing supply stores so even banning properly balanced wheels won’t stop this clever workaround.