Frederic Bastiat’s famous essay, That Which Is Seen and That, Which is Not Seen, inspired Henry Hazlitt to write Economics in One Lesson, where he applied the lesson of a careless boy breaking a window, and the net loss that resulted from it, to economic issues beyond the initial scope. In the same way that Hazlitt applied the aforementioned lesson to those issues, I will apply it to a market distortion present in today’s world: the shortage of ammunition created by an overzealous Department of Homeland Security.
I do not believe that the Department of Homeland Security has any intention of using the ammunition they bought in a massacre. Taking such a rash action would have disastrous consequences and swell the ranks of citizens seeking to defend themselves and their property. That the DHS has depleted the amount of ammunition that civilians have at their disposal is malicious enough of an action.
What is seen is that the DHS has more ammunition than they need – and that factories are working at capacity to churn it out – all the while prices of components have continued to increase as a result of civilian, military, and law enforcement demands.
What is not seen and rarely considered – except by those who are shooters – is that shooting is a perishable skill. While going to the range not only offers stress relief and a good time with friends, it’s also necessary to make sure that I can place my rounds where they need to be. In that I own firearms not only for hunting but also for self-defense, not being able to place rounds where they need to be can be a dangerous proposition to innocent bystanders (if in public) or family members (if in my home). This is especially the case with new gun owners. While I have owned guns for multiple years, I only recently purchased a handgun and have only put 150 rounds through it, due to the shortage that in part was caused by the DHS’s purchase. While I feel comfortable with it, I am not yet proficient.
I am not alone in my story. The same situation is playing out with hundreds of thousands of other new handgun owners who may be permit holders or are seriously considering applying for one to defend themselves in public. What is not seen is that we are all anxious to carry for our self-preservation and, if need be, for the preservation of the lives of others – as has been done in many cases unreported by the national media. Concealed carry of firearms has been shown to deter crime. In a sense, the public depends on those who carry. Furthermore, the public depends on those who carry to be judicious in their marksmanship, something that they cannot do unless they are skilled in the use of those firearms.
The unseen in this situation will be seen. By then, it will be too late and the media will run with it like they did with Newtown. There will be new calls for legislation on the state and Federal level to ban the carry of firearms in public, but our government has a long history of unintended consequences that they later seek to “solve”.
My advice to new gun owners at this point in time is to buy ammunition when you can find it and to do dry fire practice (preferably with Snap Caps). Familiarize yourself with the nuances of the firearm and how it feels in your hand. Practice drawing it. In your home, have it where you can access it immediately, and have clear shooting lanes based on where the rooms of your family members are. While there may be an artificial shortage of ammunition, it can’t stop you from doing basic drills without having to shoot. Do these things and the unseen may remain unseen.