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December 20, 2006

Lead bullets harm the environment .....

Yup, I guess they do. They're not much good for the people they pass through either, so I suppose the Campaign Against the Arms Trade has a point when they pour scorn on BAE Systems "lead free munitions". On the other hand, the day we discovered the bow and arrow the efficiency with which we kill one another has advanced by leaps and bounds - ask the French survivors of Agincourt about the English Long Bow. Their losses against an English force of just over six thousand exhausted and dyssentry ridden men was over ten thousand dead to the English loss of six hundred - mainly women, children and sick men caught by the Dauphin and his troops in the Baggage train.

Taking the lead out of the ammunition serves two purposes really, one being that the rifling in any gun isn't being plugged with lead as you fire, so it reduces the need to keep clearing that out of the grooves, and second, it probably helps increase velocities and therefore range and accuracy. Gravity has this irritating habit of pulling the projectile into a downward path which increases as the velocity drops, ergo the faster the bullet the further it will go and the more likely it becomes that it will hit the target. There is a negative of course, wind forces can also influence the flight path over long distance - so a heavy bullet is less likely to deviate sideways ....

Oh well, enough ballistics.

The real problem for us all is that the technology, once developed simply does not go back into Pandora's interesting box. Once something emerges, it cannot be ignored. An interesting analogy is the events of the First World War, the technology had advanced so rapidly since the last major European conflict of the 1870's that the Generals on both sides really had no idea of how to handle them. Even today, our troops and their Commanders are constantly having to rethink tactics and battlefield deployment strategy as they come up against new and more devastating weapons. Far from being the "Clinical" exercise that our politicians think it is, warfare is still about killing - and the side that finds the most efficient way to bring attrition to the other side, usually always wins.

The second problem is state sponsored "irregular" armies. They are not new, the Swiss fought a campaign against the Austrians for over a hundred years using terror tactics. The Irish did the same supported for much of the time by France and later, in the twentieth century by funds from the US - OK, not exactly "State" funding, but legally collected and sent by Noraid direct to the IRA. In Africa both the US and the USSR supported rival terror groups, as did China, Cuba and several other "civilised" nations. Go back to another century and you find that the Welsh fought a guerilla campaign against the Edwardian Kings as did the Indians and others in South East Asia against their colonial overlords. Classic examples, if only Mr Blair knew a little more history and a little less of the twisted PC versions he thinks is truth, are the Afghan wars of the nineteenth century, the desert campaigns through the 1920's and 30's in Iraq, the Yemen in the 1950's and 60's and the list goes on. Even the South American drugs cartels have their origins in "freedom" fighter groups who have simply discovered the power of voting with bullets.

We have a massive problem in the Middle East precisely because several states - and I don't think it is just Iran and Syria - are funding the terror groups operated by Hamas, Hizbollah, al Qaeda and everyone else stupid enough to fall for the seventy two virgins and paradise rewards offered. Billions of dollars are being poured into Hizbollah from Iran at this moment for "reconstruction" in Southern Lebanon. No one knows how much of that is being spent on weapons by this ghastly group - but I am pretty sure the Israelis will soon find out! Terrorism is the oldest tool in the war chest - and it is still the ugliest.

We cannot disinvent the gun, the bombs or the other things we use to kill one another. The clock cannot be turned back to an age of smaller populations living with diseases we no longer have, poverty we can't imagine and tugged forelocks to our Local Landowner. It cannot work, and it was never the golden age that some of the anti-military campaigners and tree huggers seem to think it was. Unfortunately we do not seem to be able to stop killing each other either - none of us ever seems to have to look far for a reason or a cause to harm someone else.

We need a strong military as long as there are those loose in the world who look with envy at whatever their neighbours have got, and want to take it. As long as there are those in the world who want to impose their particular set of philosophies, moral standards, culture or world view on everyone else. Vigilance is the only defence, vigilance and preparedness, a lesson we forget all to readily and all too often. "Si vis pacem; para bellum!"
If you seek to maintain peace; prepare for war! Unfortunately that means that we have no choice but to keep developing new ways to do more damage to one another - preferably before someone else finds the way!

I suppose, at the end of the day, that the lead free ammo will at least not leave any lead in the wound to give the traditional dose of lead poisoning. Small mercies perhaps? Yes, guns are used to kill people. So are knives, arrows, darts, hyperdermic syringes, fence poles, clubs, stones and just about anything and everything a man or a woman can pick up and hit someone with. It is not the weapon that kills - it is always the person wielding it. Banning one weapon simply means that someone else will pick it up and use it on the person who has been disarmed and is now defenceless. No one in his right mind believes that supine surrender is a good alternative to terror, no one that is except the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Funded by the KGB throughout the Cold War!) and all the other "Peace" Groups who chant variations on the mantra "Better Red than Dead". What is worse, they would be the first to betray those who tried to organise a "resistance" movement (See definition of "Freedom Fighter", "Terrorist" and "Underground"), turning them in in the hope of scoring brownie points from their new overlords. But then, that is the nature of humanity.

Weapons are a fact of life, we need to make sure they stay in the right hands - and not disarm ourselves so we surrender everything our forebears worked and died for. Lead free ammunition? Why not?

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 20, 2006 07:50 AM

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