Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Not Enough Bullets in the World

During my flu, I've been passing the time by watching the increasingly terrible Resident Evil movies. As I watch the heroine dispatch countless zombie hordes with a hail of gunfire, I thought to myself "There aren't enough bullets in the world for her to kill all these monsters." 

But then I second guessed myself. There are, after all, only around 7.5 billion humans, and I seem to recall that back in World War II it took something like 250 bullets per person killed in that war. 

A little investigation reveals that according to this 2012 press release from Oxfam, the world produced about 12 billion bullets per year at that time. I imagine the numbers haven't changed much, and since we're not using up 12 billion bullets a year (thank goodness), we can presume that there are more than enough bullets in the world to plug every one of us many times over. 

 You can't even really joke about this sort of thing. Why have we, as a species, chosen to expend so much time and effort into making bullets? 

I wonder how many bullets humanity uses each year for legitimate purposes: target shooting, hunting, starter pistols? Even if we used up a billion bullets a year for non-lethal purposes, that still leaves billions of bullets piling up...in stockpiles, I guess? There must be giant bullet bins all over the planet. 

The mind truly boggles. On the other hand, I guess I don't need to be so skeptical when I watch action heroes in the movies use up thousands of rounds in a couple of hours. Goodness knows there's no shortage. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

Starter pistols don't fire bullets, on account of slaying the viewers. My school had a starter pistol; it fired single blanks. It was constructed in such a way so that it was impossible to load any kind of bullet as there was no chamber. The blank was sort of a disk. The barrel was also solid.

That was back when schools taught important, technology-leading subjects like Wheel, Fire, and Arrowhead Making. These days, starter pistols are simply (maybe) gun-shaped remote switches that create a strobe flash and cause a speaker to make a pre-recorded bang sound. When I saw the Olympics, the starter pistols had a sturdy lanyard attached so that not only could you not shoot the athletes, you couldn't even pistol whip them unless one happened to be standing within arm's reach, and the athletes were far too wary for that. (I think the lanyard was a secure wire direct to the speaker, so that nobody's iPhone would prematurely activate the bang. If starter pistols fired bullets, nobody in the crowd would have the temerity to try to start the 100 meter freestyle with their iPhone.)