At the height of his stardom in 1999, Chris Rock did his third HBO stand-up special, Bigger and Blacker.
One of the best routines in the special was his suggestion that we don’t need gun control. What we really need is bullet control. He recommends that bullets cost $5,000 a piece.
Here’s the clip:
Well it seems like such an idea has finally gained some traction.
An article in today’s New York Times notes that gun control advocates in California have pushed to limit internet sales, ban large-capacity magazines, require sellers to have licenses, raise taxes on bullets, and mandate serial numbers or other traceable markings on ammunition so that the police can more easily track them. Such regulations, several of which have been enacted and take effect this year and next, are inspired by the view that the best way to limit gun violence is to approach it as a “bullet control” problem.
I certainly agree with such measures. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat from New York, told the Senate 25 years ago, when he introduced legislation that would have imposed a 10,000-percent tax on hollow-tip ammunition, “guns don’t kill people; bullets do.” It’s certainly a tax I would like to see imposed.
Currently, bullets are easier to purchase than guns, with far fewer federal restrictions. Buying ammunition typically requires no form of identification, is handed over with no questions asked and, in most of the country, can be ordered online and delivered to doorsteps.
One critic of the proposed legislation made the following statement: “Raising taxes on bullets to offset the cost of gun violence is akin to putting a levy on prescription drugs to pay for the price of heroin addiction,”
It’s one of the most nonsensical statements I’ve read. First, there is a direct link to bullets and gun violence; there is no direct link between prescription drugs and heroin addiction. Second, prescription drugs, when used properly, are meant to make people better, to relieve pain. Bullets, when used “properly” are meant to do harm, to cause pain. So I’m not exactly sure what this person is trying to say; perhaps he realizes that it’s hard to argue against wanting some control over bullet sales, so he just makes up an analogy that doesn’t work.
It’s a shame that it’s taken almost 20 years, in the case of Chris Rock’s suggestions, and 25 years in the case of Senator Moynihan’s recommendations, for action to be taken with respect to bullet control.
I hope that new laws in California have the desired impact – fewer injuries and deaths involving the use of a gun. And who would argue against that?