September 18, 2018

Q&A with an ammunition specialist about gun control

Our staff had questions following the mass shooting in Las Vegas. So we asked our resident ammunitions specialist to help us out.

Q: What do you think about requiring gun owners to be licensed and insured like drivers?

I’m not opposed to requiring licensing and insurance for gun owners. If we required competency testing prior to allowing people to purchase weapons, like we do prior to allowing people to drive on the roads, it could help prevent negligent deaths.

Q: What are your thoughts on a non-governmental organization to do accreditation for places where gun users practice and train?

I’m fine with any entity providing training so long as they are reliable. I don’t think government being in charge or not being in charge is going to make a lot of difference. Some programs the government runs decently, some it doesn’t.

Q: What are the chances that a right wing or leftist paramilitary group has with weapons legally available against the military/government?

If the government/military came down full force on any paramilitary group they’d have zero chance of long term survival. Standard weapons and munitions that civilians can acquire aren’t anywhere near as powerful as what is at the government’s disposal. Think AR-15 vs Javelin Missile. Souped up trucks vs up-armored MRAPs with mounted .50 cal machine guns and MK-19 automatic grenade launchers. The only reason we have so much difficulty in the Middle East right now is because it’s REALLY hard to kill ideology, especially in a part of the world that has next to nothing but that ideology. Here in the US? There aren’t a whole lot of people adhering to extremist ideologies and any “serious” insurgency would be snuffed out pretty quickly.

Q: If you were in charge of bringing a piece of gun control legislation to the floor, what would be on it that’s a deal-breaker? In other words, what does a successful, bipartisan, commonsense gun control bill look like in your eyes?

Everybody wants gun legislation surrounding mental health. While that makes sense on the surface it’s incredibly difficult to actually enact. Think of it this way. If we make it so you lose your right to your weapons if you have mental health problems, how likely do you think people that already have weapons are going to be to seek mental health assistance if the need arises? I honestly don’t know what we could do surrounding that particular issue. Perhaps required annual screenings for ownership? Even then, that’s not going to catch most instances and there’s a solid argument about that being an unreasonable infringement on 2nd Amendment rights. I haven’t heard a great way to handle the mental health aspect of it yet, and haven’t personally thought of a way to do that.

Things that I could and would definitely get behind are required training for purchases, extended background checks, and licensing. Also, I believe we need much tougher punishments regarding negligence. For instance, there was a woman, I believe in Michigan, who opened fire at a suspected shoplifter in a parking lot in the middle of the day. She clearly showed a major lack of good decision making and I wouldn’t want her ever gaining the right to carry again, but, as I remember, she’d be eligible again after a few years. There was a recent instance where a grandmother left a loaded pistol in her purse and her 4 year-old granddaughter found it and killed herself. In cases like this I believe mandatory prison time should be included. Too often, things like this happen and there isn’t enough of a punishment to make sure people understand that the consequences of their actions can bear criminal ramifications. If someone accidentally kills someone through drinking and driving we have no problem throwing them in prison. It should be the same if someone accidentally kills someone through mishandling of a weapon they’re responsible for.

Q: Data shows that the more guns that are in a country or state, the more gun related deaths. What can we do to change American culture to discourage gun ownership without angering those who already own them?

We have a hero problem in our culture. Everybody wants to be the hero, and as such, it increases the amount of people that want to carry. As stated, the more people carrying, the higher the likelihood for gun violence. Also, we have a fear problem. So many people are afraid for whatever reason and want that extra protection, never mind the fact that the chances that anyone will ever actually need a weapon at any point in their life for protection is astronomically small. People don’t often deal in likelihoods and they let their emotions get the better of them in regards to these types of things. Look at how popular “prepping” has become while there still has yet to be a reason for it, despite many predictions through years. I think these types of instances are our biggest barriers. If more people dealt with likelihoods and probabilities, as opposed to their fear or their want to be a hero, less people would feel the need to buy/carry weapons.

Q: If we couldn’t find common ground under Obama after Sandy Hook, do you foresee any chance that we find common ground under Trump after Las Vegas? If so, how does that conversation start?

The simple answer is no. If Obama couldn’t get the nation together for gun control reform after the killing of small children, a person who’s infinitely more divisive won’t be able to do it for concert goers.

Q: What do you think causes the American obsession with firearms and gun culture? Why is it normal for one family in small-town Iowa to own more than a dozen guns?

There are still a number of people that hunt, especially in more rural areas. There are people that still do that for a main source of food. But having so many? I already touched on that a little. Hero worship and fear. Fear of the government coming to take their guns. Wanting to be the hero that can stave them off if they do come.

A bit about me: 

I served active duty in the Army for nearly 5 years as an ammunition specialist. As such I got to see and work with a lot of different munitions that are available to the military (which is why I can confidently say that no small militia group in the US could stand a fight vs the Army.)

Craig Spencer
Craig Spencer 4 Articles
Craig grew up in central Iowa and is a father of two just trying to achieve the cliché of leaving the world better for his kids. An active duty Army Veteran as an Ammunition Specialist. Hawkeyes and Raiders fan. Someone who loves debating people on the topics our parents told us never to discuss in public, politics and religion. Lover of all things hard rock but especially anything by Maynard James Kennan.


  1. I noticed, and am grateful for the almost unbiased tone maintained in this article, but I have an issue with the one segment of a question left unanswered and wish to make a point on it here in the comments.

    The question I’m talking about is the “gun owners insurance” which would immediately place an undue burden on lower income families potentially preventing them from being able to enjoy their right to bear arms. Whether for personal protection, hunting, sporting or simply as a hobby.

    Secondly, sure no random group of civilians would be able to take on the entire military arsenal, but should a revolt be necessary, it wouldn’t just be a random paramilitary group. Because our right to bear arms is essentially recognized and protected throughout the U.S., a revolt wouldn’t be just some localized group or just one compound, but instead an entire nation of potential “insurgents” with weaponry of many variations from .22-.50cal, with moderately long range abilities. Yes, any chance of a successful rebellion would be bleak, but one might say it would be better than none.

    • A driver’s license isn’t considered a burden. Nor is car insurance. I have a hard time giving much credence to that argument because insurance would be a pretty minimal cost in this regard.

      For instance, my car insurance, full coverage on a 2016 jeep, for both my wife and I is $70. That’s for an every day driver type of thing.

      If we were to require weapon insurance I don’t see how it would even be anywhere near that high. My guess is it would likely be cheaper than renter’s insurance (so we’re looking at most $5-$15 per month, if I’m correct). Personally, in my eyes, if you’re not at a point where you’re able to afford something so minor your life likely isn’t at a point where you’d be a “responsible” gun owner either.

      As for the idea that it’d be “a nation,” that’s just patently false. We’ve seen this numerous times already. The nation didn’t go to war for Cliven Bundy. The nation didn’t go to war for Waco.

      Further, .22-.50 cal have NOTHING on the military arsenal. Seriously. The two aren’t comparable. Hell, even just the small arms munitions aren’t comparable as military rounds are more powerful than standard civilian rounds.

      • An average shotgun(great for home defense) or even Taurus subcompact pistol costs on average $150-$180, what you’re suggesting is a government enforced subscription that will cost annually more than the shotgun\pistol. How does that compare to your auto insurance vs the cost of your car? Do you drive an $840 car? My guess is probably not considering your attitude towards lower income families in respect to having a right to means of self defense. Your car also provides a means of making an income, while also interacting with thousands of cars daily. Your chances of having an accident absolutely dwarf the chances of having to use your firearm making the need for auto insurance more than reasonable.

        Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year
        An additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled
        Over 1,600 children under 15 years of age die each year
        Nearly 8,000 people are killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16-20
        Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year, or an average of $820 per person

        Compare that to 12,000 US annual homicides by guns with only an annual average of 24,000 injured from guns putting gun related homicides at less than 1/3 than that of cars and injuries at 1/100th. This shows that the fiscal responsibility vs risk would place a higher burden on gun owners than that of car owners. Also gun violence only costs the US $2.2billion(which includes officer involved shootings) a year compared to cars wrecks at more that $230.6 billion a year.

        Cliven Bundy did not unite nor represent any large majority of the US as gun owners or property owners. He was seen by many as the aggressor and a person who continued to act in a manner that he knew would result in federal criminal action and took no steps to litigate it in court, instead he twiddled his thumbs until the law came knocking. Using him as an example as to how the nation would react to a “holocaust 2.0” is not an approach to debate but only a lazy means to dismiss without giving up any ground.

        Speaking on the ability of US citizens to compete with the military by saying “they have missiles” means you’ve not set back and thoroughly thought this out or are just unaware of certain particular numbers. The military’s ability to identify, target, and full on assault around 100 million US citizens is amazingly laughable, but as you may recall I did concede in saying that the chances of a successful rebellion would be bleak, but it would be better than the alternative.

        Gun Ownership is a nonissue and bringing it up is only good for ratings and the gun industry.

  2. Even if a large portion of the US decided to go to war with the US government they’d still be outmanned and outgunned. Those that side with the government will have the tanks, the helos, the fighter jets, the battle ships, cruise missiles etc.

    The government wouldn’t likely be fighting a war to “win their hearts and minds” here like in the Middle East either, it’d be quickest route to squash the rebellion. People that think they’d have any chance at all against the military might of the US government with their semi-auto small arms are just kidding themselves.

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