Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 30, 2012

Bullet control, not gun control

By Fred Goldenberg, Local columnist

---- — Authorities said they found multiple 30-round magazines and hundreds of bullets at the school — enough ammunition to carry out significant additional carnage.

How does one even begin to fathom the tragedy in the Newtown, Conn., elementary school? To have 26 people dead at the hands of a mad man who had a Glock and SIG Sauer, both pistols, and a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle, which was the primary weapon used in the shooting? At least 100 rounds were fired. Kindergarteners, the ages of my grandchildren, died of multiple gun shots. I cry every time I think about it.

In a little over five years there have been 19 mass shootings with over 200 people dying at the hands of some very sick people. Yet the vast majority of these very sick people bought their guns legitimately They walked into a gun store, filled out a form and bought a semi-automatic hand gun or assault rifle, which they later used to slaughter family members, co-workers or total strangers.

The gun lobby says it's not the guns that killed these people, but the limited access these people have to mental health treatment. They say if we hadn't cut the mental health budget or closed the mental treatment centers, these tragedies wouldn't happen. I guess they missed the part where the authorities said this sick person used a semi-automatic rifle that held a 30-round clip. Thirty-round clips of ammunition are used for only one thing and it's certainly not to go deer hunting.

I am not naïve enough to believe that we need tighter gun control laws to get a handle on this ever-increasing mass shooting epidemic. With an estimated 350,000,000 guns in circulation, the possibility of changing America's gun addiction seems unrealistic. But banning guns that even have the ability to utilize a 30-shot clip seems like a no brainer. There is no logical reason for a rational person to have a gun that fires an endless stream of bullets.

Forgetting the second amendment argument or the mental health statements, I think we can all agree that there are just too many guns and easy access to them throughout the country. I also think we can agree that it's impossible for us to reduce this number in any sensible way. But there is a sensible approach, which is taking wing: bullet control, not gun control.

Yes it was tried before. The Gun Control Act of 1968 required federal licensing for all ammunition dealers, and required that a record be kept on all handgun ammunition sales by retailers. But through intense lobbying by the NRA, which claimed it was too cumbersome for retailers, it was watered down in 1982 and 1984 and finally eliminated in 1986.

But with today's technology, bullet control needs to be seriously looked at and resurrected as an effective way in which to control an out of control situation. The state regulates the sale and price of liquor more than it does the sale of .50-caliber bullets. I can go online right now and buy a box of the new Ted Nugent .50 BMG Ammunition (I kid you not — it even has his picture on the box) delivered right to my door for $81.99, but I can't buy a bottle of bourbon without going to the store and showing ID.

I believe if we treated the purchasing of a copper-jacketed shell the same way we treat the purchase of a bottle of Jack we'd be far better off. As Chris Rock said in 1999, "If bullets cost $1,500 apiece, people would think twice before they put a cap in your a**."

Don't you think it's time to have a serious discussion about these senseless killings and the ease in which the killers have access to guns and ammunition?

I do. Enough is enough.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a certified senior adviser (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a patient and consumer advocacy and financial services organization in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or other senior issues can be directed to 922-1010 or