Loss of Smokeless Powder The Greatest Threat to the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the United States Today
by Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Washington, DC –-(Ammoland.com)- Without ammunition, our firearms are just awkward clubs, and our cherished right to Keep and Bear Arms is worthless – literally worth nothing.
Let me explain this threat.
To the best of my information, there are only two plants in the United States that manufacture smokeless propellant to load ammunition for our firearms. All else is imported, from Canada, Scandinavia, Europe, Israel, and Australia primarily.
These two plants are both owned by giant defense and government contractors for whom sales of powder for civilian ammunition consumption is but a tiny fraction of their business.
One is the General Dynamics plant in St. Marks, Florida, which produces for Hodgden, Winchester and others, and the Alliant plant in Connecticut which produces for the Alliant family of companies and for the Lake City Arsenal (currently under Alliant management).
If Obama were to instruct his appointed Secretary of Defense to quietly lean on these defense contractors to quit selling smokeless powder for civilian consumption or put their next contract for an aircraft carrier at risk, I believe they'd bail on civilian powder sales in a heartbeat. And, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could end smokeless powder imports tomorrow with a stroke of her pen.
Sure, some people in the U.S. have a fair amount of ammunition and reloading components squirreled away, but those supplies won't last forever. Actually, at the current rate of consumption, ammunition in supply chain and in individual possession would last between one and two years, although many lightly-inventoried people would run out in days or weeks, not months or years.
That's why the Montana Shooting Sports Association has crafted a bill for the 2011 Montana legislative session to encourage the production of smokeless powder, primers and brass on a small scale, a scale that should be reproduced on a state-by-state basis.
Many of the small countries of central and eastern Europe have their own in-country powder production. However, because of scale issues in manufacturing, these small-scale plants can only survive with significant state subsidy.
In the U.S., the incentive and legal infrastructure are a bit different. According to our novel U.S. system of political thought, the primary purpose (maybe only valid purpose) of government is to protect the liberties of the people. One essential and well-recognized liberty is the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Since the RKBA is worthless without ammunition, it may be validly argued that supporting supplies of ammunition components is a legitimate government function.
Thus, state subsidy of ammunition component manufacture is worthy of consideration, even by minimalist libertarians.
The bill MSSA will have before the 2011 Montana Legislature offers four incentives:
- Provides a general, 20-year tax amnesty for any new business established in Montana to manufacture smokeless powder, primers or brass. This gives up no current state revenue because no such manufacturers exist in Montana now. And, it may stimulate new jobs in Montana. Terms for qualification and manufacturing are defined in the bill;
- Provides product liability shelter for manufacturers;
- Makes any such manufacturers eligible for any existing economic development programs in the state; and
- Asserts Tenth Amendment prerogative to regulate exclusively with state regulation any chemicals used in the manufacturing process (many of the best powders are made overseas and are good because they are made using chemicals banned by the federal EPA).
The MSSA draft bill for this effort is located at: www.progunleaders.org/lcq2010/powder.html
As Montana has been the source of other trail-breaking initiatives (e.g., the Montana Firearms Freedom Act), this idea is available for implementation in other states. MSSA believes it would be healthy if every state had in-state production of ammunition components sufficient to meet the needs of the state's consumers.Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
author, Gun Laws of Montana
About Montana Shooting Sports Association:
MSSA is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners. Visit: www.mtssa.org