As most of us have seen by now, the list of items found in Adam Lanza's possession has been released. On the surface, many of these items appear "scary" (swords, cut open shotgun rounds, etc), and the amount of ammo copious. But is this "arsenal" really out of the norm? When compared to the of amount of ammunition that is often possessed and stored by recreational shooters the answer is, no. In fact, to many gun owners, myself included, this amount of ammunition is minuscule and not even worthy of the title "cache" or "arsenal."
So why is it so many millennials, who claim to be one of the most open-minded generations of our time, are campaigning in favor in stricter gun control, yet they themselves have done little in the way of unbiasedly immersing themselves in the gun, hunting, and shooting sports culture?
Why is the “Lanza list,” not as scary as it seems? Let’s do some math. According to the list, Lanza had 38 boxes of ammo, which totals to 1,396 rounds, and 177 rounds of loose ammo, for a total of 1,573 rounds. The list mentions small baggies and cans containing rounds here and there, but I left those out because there is no way to accurately account how many rounds were in them.
That seems like a lot of ammo and people say things like, "This is more ammo than a Marine squad ... it's terrifying. Why does someone need this much ammo?"
A Marine Squad, by definition, is 12 soldiers with one commanding officer. Depending on the mission, a solider may have anywhere from seven to nine, 30-round magazines on him or herself, which equates to 210-240 rounds per soldier. Multiplied by 13, this gives us a minimum of 2,730 rounds per squad — well over what Lanza had in his room. So no, this is not more ammo than what a Marine squad would possess.
Also, a very important concept in the shooting culture that most people do no not realize is that ammunition is like currency. It has value, it is in finite supply, is highly demanded, and the more you have, the better off you are.
Case and point, ammo prices have tripled since Newtown. Prior to December 14, a box of 55g FMJ .223 rifle ammo, which is 20 rounds, could be purchased for around $8 a box. Now, that same box of standard issue .223 ammo, is almost $30 a box. Anyone with said ammo on hand before December 14 could easily sell it to a fellow shooter for almost 4x the original price and make nearly a 300% profit ... not a bad deal.
Like other commodities, ammunition is not immune to political and social shock waves and thus making it prone to price changes. So why not invest in a lot of it if the price is only going to keep increasing and supplies decreasing?
Another reality people need to understand is that some calibers of ammunition, specifically .22 LR, are usually sold in large quantities to make manufacturing such a small, cheap round worth while. Unless you’re buying some super fancy, special purpose .22LR round, this is the norm. Even so, most manufacturers and retailers offer .22LR in "bulk packs" of 375-550 rounds, almost a third of the total rounds in Lanza's possession. This is nothing unusual.
With ammo prices being so high, most shooters, like myself, rely heavily on the .22LR for our shooting enjoyment until demand/prices come back to reality, which is likely not anytime soon. So given the circumstances, it would not be unusual for someone to buy four to five bulk boxes (2,000+ rounds), which use to be readily available in Walmarts and sporting stores across the country. This would cost roughly just over $100, compared to 2,000 rounds of .223, which would cost you anywhere from $3,500 - $4,000.
To put this amount of ammo into perspective, in a few hours, depending on the number of shooters and desired accuracy, a person could easily use 300-400 rounds of .22LR, especially if shooting a semi-automatic rifle.
Another comment unknowing readers might make is, "That's a lot of different calibers/guns for one person to have, why do you (they) need so many different guns/calibers?
Simply put: money. Some guns are cheaper to shoot, yet bad for hunting (.22LR), while some calibers are better for hunting/sport shooting, but will make you broke. The .338 Lapua Magnum, a round used by many recreational long-range shooters, and some big game hunters, is around $80 a box (20 rounds).
For example, if time, location, and money allow, in one year I might choose hunt duck, pheasants, turkey, squirrel, coyotes, wild hog, and elk. Can all of this game be ethically/effectively taken with the same caliber round? Absolutely not. Let's analyze this further.
An avid deer hunter who wants to hunt during the entire season, will have a compound bow, a black powder muzzle loading rifle, a "slug-gun," and a 20 or 30 caliber rifle (e.g. .22-250 or .308 caliber). Add other small game and a .22LR, or other rimfire cartridge is in order. For coyote and/or wild hogs, a .223 AR-15 is the weapon of choice, and is legal to hunt with, despite what you may have heard. Hunting pheasant, turkey, and duck, requires at least two different shotguns. One with a longer barrel and tighter choke pattern to reach high flying ducks, and another one, most likely an "over-under," two barreled shotgun, for pheasant and turkey. Some avid turkey hunters want camo-covered shotguns because turkeys have exceptional vision, so that now makes seven, possibly eight firearms. When hunting big game like elk, a very powerful 30 caliber round is needed, likely a 300 Win Mag, or larger, to ensure an ethical kill. This now brings the count to nine firearms.
Lastly, most hunters employ a sidearm while hunting, usually a larger caliber to safeguard against bears (.44 Magnum). Most hunters also have pistols for home use or personal collection, so that brings the final count to at least 11 different weapons utilizing six to seven different calibers/types of ammo.
Now, when explained in hunting and game terms, does owning 10+ firearms seem unrealistic? No.
Even if you do not hunt and only shoot for recreational purposes, like many gun owners, you likely have a shotgun for skeet and a shotgun trap, a revolver and semi-auto pistol, a .22LR rifle for plinking, a home defense gun of sorts, and a larger caliber rifle for multiple purposes, likely an AR-15.
What everyone needs to realize, and accept, is that Adam Lanza and James Holmes, and those like them, do not represent the gun culture, in any way, shape, or form. They never did and they never will. They were not hunters nor avid recreational shooter – they were two psychologically unstable individuals who used a weapon to kill. Whether or not they used a gun, knife, or bomb, should make little difference.
As a generation that strives to be politically correct and accepting of others, millennials need to recognize when they have misjudged and mistreated an entire group and culture of people based on the actions of a very select few. Lanza's actions were heinous, deplorable, and evil, but if you claim to be an open minded person, you would take the time to learn more about the those who own guns, and the reasons why, before jumping to conclusions about millions of your fellow Americans.