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October 06, 2004

Plastic Guns and Cop-Killer Bullets as Fiction

I just saw an op-ed by John Lott, "Gunning for Cheney", which says....

...No guns have ever been produced without metal in them, nor is there any evidence that such guns can be made. At the time of the vote in 1984, no gun had less than 3.5 ounces of metal.

So what did this supposedly crucial law do? It had nothing to do with Glocks. The minimum metal requirement for a gun to be considered legal was set at 3.2 ounces -- less than a fifth of the metal contained in the then controversial Glocks and less than any other gun.

The standard was picked because it did not affect anything, not because evidence suggested that some threshold was necessary for public safety. Gun control groups got their hysteria, while politicians were able to posture that they were "doing something."

During the 2000 election, Cheney was also attacked for his earlier vote on so-called "cop-killer" bullets, but the discussion was just as misleading. The bullet was invented by police officers in the 1960's to fire at suspects hiding behind objects or wearing bullet-resistant vests. These specialty bullets were only sold to police and were not available in stores anywhere in the United States.


Despite the phrase "cop-killer," only police used these bullets, and even then extremely rarely. No officer has ever been shot at, let alone killed, with such a bullet.

Erik Helland had a working paper on "placebo laws" for gun control sometime in the past year, I think. Vice laws are often like this, too,-- passed to satisfy one group, but then not enforced, to satisfy another group. These also, however, illustrate how bills may be proposed just to get people on record as opposing them. Cheney, it seems, has principled objections to gun control laws, even ones that are largely symbolic.

Posted by erasmuse at October 6, 2004 12:15 PM

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