“Police wear body armor. Why would a community member be driving around in body armor?” Craig asked.
In this particular case, it’s because the bad guy wanted to protect himself from being shot while committing a crime. No surprise there. (It’s worth noting that felons are prohibited from owning armor.)
Leaving aside the fact that the wearer in this case was a criminal, I certainly don’t think it’s unusual at all for an ordinary, non-felon private citizen in a crime-ridden city like Detroit to consider wearing body armor. Type IIA or II armor will protect against the majority of common handgun rounds which one might encounter in a place like Detroit.
Is it uncommon for private citizens to wear armor? Sure, but it seems odd to question why a private person might want to wear armor. The answer is simple, and it’s exactly the same reason why a cop wears armor: they don’t want to get shot.
As I do on occasion, I was perusing some of the various gun control groups sites and seeing what they were up to. In so doing, I discovered an interesting proposal that I had not previously known about: using the purchasing power of government agencies like police departments to implement gun control.
Although some people, including former Governor of New York Elliot Spitzer, have written about such strategies in the past, I’ve not heard of it before now. Gov. Spitzer’s explains the strategy:
Here is how it could work with guns: The Defense Department and the city of New York are among the largest purchasers of guns. If the president and the mayor truly believe that semi-automatic weapons should not be available to private purchasers, and that magazines with more than 10 bullets should not be sold over the counter, they should simply say that, from now on, the federal government and the city of New York, as a matter of public safety, will not buy any weapons or ammunition from companies that do not agree to pull semi-automatics from their stock and refuse to produce magazines with more than 10 rounds other than for sale to the government. President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg should announce that semiautomatic handguns with high-capacity magazines—the kind used in Oak Creek; Aurora, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Virginia Tech—can no longer be sold to private citizens by any company that wants to do business with the federal government and the city of New York.
The major gun manufacturers will agree to the limits imposed by their major customers.
Gov. Spitzer’s plan is certainly interesting, but it relies on a few key assumptions without which the entire scheme collapses:
- Government sales constitute a sufficiently large fraction of gun sales that manufacturers would be unwilling to lose their business, thus restricting what’s available for public sale to keep government business.
- No other manufacturer would step in to fill the gap left by those playing along with the government.
While point #1 may apply to certain companies that are particularly reliant on government sales (what’s the breakdown of government:civilian sales for companies like, say, Colt?), it’s unlikely to matter for a lot of the smaller companies — I doubt that Stag Arms, Mega Arms, Magpul, and other relatively small manufacturers of somewhat “controversial” things like AR-15s, magazines holding more than 10 rounds, or guns with black plastic bits really care much if the Defense Department or the government of the State of New York don’t buy their stuff because they probably don’t buy their products already. They can’t lose sales they’re not already making, so this strategy can’t apply any sort of leverage against them.
Point #1 also breaks down when you look at sales figures: sure, a government agency may be the largest single customer of a particular company, but they make up a relatively small amount of total sales. As an example, let’s be generous and say that the State of New York is a manufacturer’s largest single customer and contributes to 10% of the company’s total income with the rest coming from smaller customers (e.g. local police departments, say a combined total of 10%) and individual buyers (80%). Even if the local police departments play along with the state, why would a company eschew 80% of its sales to appease a minority of its customers? That wouldn’t be good publicity for the company, particularly when the government makes it clear that they’re doing this specifically to apply leverage — what’s to stop the government from asking for more in the future and cutting off purchases if they don’t get what they want?
Point #2 reflects the state of the market: ARs are among the most popular guns in the country for private citizens. Manufacturers have been running around-the-clock to keep up with demand and there’s still a backlog. It would be foolish in the extreme for one company to simply give up their share of that market, generate enormous customer backlash, and allow other companies to take their place. There’s plenty of competition in the market, and while there might be some disruption if one of the big contract forges/casting houses leaves the market, someone else will happily take their place. Again, while the government might be the largest single customer of certain companies, they almost certainly make up a relatively small fraction of their over all sales, and there’s plenty of companies who don’t really care about government sales and so wouldn’t be pressured at all.
This doesn’t even begin to take into account that there’s a huge number of guns that are hugely popular with private citizens but almost never purchased by government buyers — how many governments purchase imported AK clones? Saiga shotguns? Ruger Mini-14s (yes, I know they’re reasonably popular with officers in jails/prisons, but you rarely see police using them outside of that context)? How many agencies buy Kel-Tec rifles, Kahr pistols, M1As, or any of the zillions of other products that anti-gun people would restrict if they could?
Of course, the strategy doesn’t take into account the fact that the government is a purchaser of items, not a manufacturer. If the large manufacturers decided to stop selling their products to the government (Barrett was the first major company I can recall that did this, and now there’s quite a few other companies who refuse to sell guns or accessories to governments in states that infringe the rights of private citizens). I think it’s more plausible that gun companies would band together and refuse to sell or service products to governments that infringe the rights of their citizens (thus applying leverage to change policy for the better) than for governments to use their relatively minor purchasing power to influence gun companies.
As always, I welcome the thoughts and comments of readers.
Police in Britain are searching for guns smuggled from the US, according to the BBC.
The alleged smuggler, who is in custody in the US, is accused of smuggling 62 guns into the UK.
The last paragraph, however, stood out to me:
Former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism chief Andy Hayman said details of the case were “genuinely shocking”.
Writing in The Times, he said: “This makes a mockery of the stringent checks we all endure at US airports, such as removing our shoes and belts, having our toothpaste confiscated and all the other irritants.
“Steven Greenoe’s guns could just have easily been bombs.”
Mr. Hayman clearly is not familiar with how things are done in the US when it comes to firearms and air travel. There are clear rules and procedures for traveling with checked firearms. In general, the firearms must be unloaded, kept in a locked case, be in checked baggage (there are certain exceptions for police officers that allow them, in certain situations, to fly with weapons on their person), and be screened by the TSA.
Since Mr. Greenoe’s firearms were in his checked luggage, they were inaccessible to himself or others during the flight. This is in accordance with US travel laws, as well as my understanding of UK laws relating to traveling with firearms. Thus, Mr. Hayman’s comments about this incident making a “mockery” of the searches of passengers and their effects is not relevant. Don’t get me wrong, I think the current passenger screening policies are absurd and well deserving of mockery, they have nothing to do with the carriage of firearms in checked luggage. While his luggage may have contained bombs, one can hope that current screening methods for checked luggage would have detected them. In addition, bombs are inherently dangerous (for example, they could explode by themselves if mishandled or if constructed incorrectly), while disassembled firearms are simply inert pieces of metal. There’s quite a difference.
Even .40 and 10mm won’t magically stop bad guys with a single shot, particularly if the bad guys are hopped up on adrenaline or other drugs.
Practice, practice, practice. That’s how you win, not because of what caliber you shoot.
Police pose as burglars by trying to open people’s windows and doors in the middle of the night, occasionally dragging residents out of bed to scold them. Why? They want to remind people to secure their property and cut down on burglaries.
If this happened in the US rather than Britain, it sounds like a sure-fire way to get shot.
The Daily Mail has more.
Honestly, the only good thing I see coming out of that raid is the picture where the cops are displaying good trigger discipline. Everything else seems completely outrageous.
They also show a picture of a “gun” found during the raid:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but that looks completely different from any Glock pistol I’ve ever seen. The finger grooves suggest that it’s a third-generation Glock (previous generations didn’t have the grooves), but everything else seems suspicious: there’s no metal rails on the receiver for the slide to run on, the barrel’s “breech block” is grossly oversized and looks to be made out of plastic, there’s no ejector, the spring and guide rod in the baggie don’t look anything like the type of spring (real Glocks have a flat, coiled spring instead of the round, coiled spring displayed here) or guide rod (real Glocks have a plastic guide rod that holds the spring captive), the texture on the grip looks wrong, and the flat “label” at the bottom of the grip doesn’t exist on the left side of Glock pistols. Additionally, there’s no “GLOCK” emblem on the grip.
I’d show a picture of my Glock 19, but it has a Hogue sleeve on the grip, and so conceals the left side of the grip. As such, I’ll present this image of a third-generation Glock 17 that I found from Google Image Search:
Note the differences?
If the police and newspapers can’t identify a fake pistol (probably an airsoft knockoff), dare I ask how accurate the rest of the claims made by the police are?
While I have no doubt that some of the boxes raided belonged to criminals, I’d suspect that many of the boxes belonged to ordinary, law-abiding people. Hopefully they can get their stuff back. Good luck getting anyone to keep stuff in safe deposit boxes in the future.