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Military Cartridge Brass Destruction 2010 - Round 2
by
Gary Marbut, President, Montana Shooting Sports Association


The cure that was arranged by Montana Senators Baucus and Tester to fix the intended military destruction of once-fired cartridge brass last year appears to be suffering from a fatal end-run.

Interested persons will remember that a year ago, helpful intervention by Montana's senators persuaded the Department of Defense to rescind a fresh DoD directive to military installation commanders requiring them to destroy once-fired brass, prior to selling it at auction into the civilian marketplace for ammunition reloading and other purposes.

An end-run is being done around the rescinding order through quiet and sweetheart side deals with installation commanders that is being aggressively promoted by ATK.

Some characters must be introduced to explain this story. ATK/Alliant Techsystems is the defense contractor that currently has the contract to operate the Army's huge Lake City Arsenal, the last government-owned facility in the U.S. for production of small arms military ammunition. While other contracts to operate Lake City have been cost-plus, the contract ATK arranged allows ATK to retain profits of operation. Although government/private partnerships always seem to be strange creatures, the nature of the government/ATK partnership may be stranger than most.

Government Liquidation is another private entity that has an exclusive government franchise to sell surplus military equipment, from all military installations nationwide, to all bidders.

Until recently, most used cartridge brass sales were put up for public bid through Government Liquidations, bids available to scrap metal purchasers, foundries processing brass, and specialized cartridge brass processors that reconditioned millions of surplus cartridge brass for sale to commercial reloaders of civilian ammunition, and to civilians for ammunition loading. The steady supply of reloadable brass from military sources has been a sizeable and essential component of the currently stressed ammunition market in the U.S.

Although the private Government Liquidations retains a fee for the auction services it provides, the bulk of income from Government Liquidations' sales of surplus military property is directed into the U.S. Treasury, to be reallocated and appropriated by Congress, as needed.

In a recent turn, ATK has been aggressively promoting sweetheart side deals with military installation commanders for those commanders to sell used cartridge brass directly to ATK (which ATK then renders unsuitable for reloading), the income from which is deposited, NOT into the U.S. Treasury for reallocation by Congress, but into accounts controlled by installation commanders for installation operation.

ATK even provides portable equipment to demil tons of cartridge cases at the military installations, destroying the brass for reloading purposes. Because the destroyed cartridge case brass is not suitable for reloading, it cannot command a price driven by auction for the highest-value use of reloading. Military installation commanders sell the Alliant-destroyed brass to ATK at a private, non-auction, special price. Commanders are willing to accept the reduced price because the sale proceeds go to the commanders' discretionary accounts and not back to the U.S. Treasury via Government Liquidations.

Quote from ATK program sales literature:

"Payment is made to Fort Irwin not DRMO [now Government Liquidations], so Fort Irwin utilizes the money that is generated from the Recycle project for other recycling efforts."

ATK, then, ships this destroyed cartridge brass to the foundries from which ATK gets new stock for manufacturing new cartridge cases, offsetting in significant part what ATK would otherwise pay the foundries, and thereby increasing ATK's profit from operating the Lake City Arsenal.

Government Liquidations suffers a substantial decrease in business since fired military brass has long been a most lucrative product they've traditionally handled.

Meanwhile, the big losers are the U.S. Treasury (U.S. taxpayers), and civilian ammunition consumers who will see higher prices and more shortages in the ammunition marketplace from this scheme. U.S. gun owners are effectively being taxed by this scheme to provide greater profits for ATK.

There is one additional motive at work here. In part, this juicy scheme is being sold to military installation commanders with the reasoning that "We cannot allow this reloaded ammunition to fall into the hands of militias." The sell-direct-to-ATK idea is being sold to installation commanders as a way to deprive imagined U.S. civilian enemies of firepower.

Quotes from ATK program sales literature:

"Currently handling brass scrap for ATK Lake City -- for sole purpose of recycling material and preventing any reloading of spent cases by the public with military grade brass."

"Keeps Military Grade Brass from being re-loaded by unauthorized users."

"To PREVENT anyone from using your scrap ammunition components for non-military purposes." (Emphasis in the original)

"Assurability for the [military] installation, that no one can use this cartridge against law enforcement or our military personnel, by reloading the case."

It's time to cure this problem finally with congressional action. The Montana congressional delegation is spooling up to address this issue. Senators and Representatives from other states need to join the Montana delegation in fixing this problem finally with congressional direction to DoD to require that all expended military brass of civilian-useable calibers generated domestically goes through the public auction process. This will benefit the U.S. Treasury, America's gun owners, and the adequacy of the ammunition marketplace.

- End -

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.mtpublish.com



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The more I think about this, the more it bothers me...some mega corporation is out there cutting costs, while padding the budget of local military bases, all at tax-payer expense. I would like to be altruistic about this and say anything that benefits the local bases is a good thing, but the underlying motive here is greater profit, through lower expenses, of a large company. Aside from what I see as added expense to the tax-payer, this deprives those who use military brass for reloading of a relatively inexpensive source of that brass. In other words, one of the small benefits of being a tax-payer is being taken away, to help out ATK's bottom line. Cronyism at its finest? Yet another example of why our govt. is 11 Trillion (with a "T") dollars in debt? There are a lot of frugal people out there who have long counted on this supply of inexpensive brass that ATK is essentially pulling off the market.

Lest we forget...doesn't ATK also make/sell commercial brass in .223 and .308?! ;) So, after they dry up the available mil-surp brass, what are people going to wind up buying?
 

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I get it...so the "civilian militias" will not be able to use the military's own brass against them. They'll have to get it from a different (and just as accessible) source instead! Makes sense to me...
 

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So.....does this mean there could be a slight shortage of 223/308 brass?

In other words, ATK will have to manufacture more virgin brass for the reason they are drying up the supply of usable military brass for civilian use. Which means, government contracts will be filled first, then commercial use second.
 

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This is because they want to return the brass and make it into new cases rather than buying virgin stocks and paying the high prices. They would rather charge the price of the virgin stocks all while making a huge profit and paying virtually nothing for it. Its all profit driven.
 

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That's a gigantic amount of spin around a very simple issue:

ATK knows just as well as everyone else that the demand/price crush (for ATK) is already here: Their prices are going to have to drop sharply very shortly if they want to keep selling anything, so they need to keep supplies tight in order to keep prices up.

Anybody remember the military-idustrial power complex warning from Eisenhower? Anybody know/remember that drafts of that speech called it the military-industrial-congressional power complex?
 

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Like most things, its going to take some pressure from shooters to make a difference. Who has written them? Call them up on the phone and tell them you dont appreciate it. The home grown militant is not going to reload military brass and then use it on the troops. That is a classic example of a red herring. The real reason was the one identified by mattsbox very succinctely. Its all about the Benjamins. Same as last time, if we get involved it may prove successful.

I would call Black Hills ammo (since they have large military contracts) and ask them about it. Tell them you are hesistant to buy their ammo because they are supporting this. Call Alliant and the other companys that either do buisness with or are a conglomerate of ATK and tell them how you feel. If we put enough pressure on them then the may be more inclined to listen if people as well as buisness partners are making a fuss about it.

If someone has a link to start making contacts lets put it on here. I am chasing my kids around so Im out of the game until at least bedtime tonight.
 

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last I checked ATK owns Federal and several other ammo brands. atk makes everything from 22lr to saturn 5 rockets. The stock is a consistant winner. Although takes some jumps both directions due to gov contracts and the whim of congress to fund and defund those projects. If they can maintain this type of arrangement we may see a day that they are able to push more of the competition out of business and drive up prices more. soon they will be susceptible to being broken up due to anti trust laws...
 

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From another forum

At the Firing Line a couple of guys have done some contacting and found we may be jumping the gun a little? We should seek to stop it from happening, but here's what was just posted there:

riverwalker76 said:
Here's the real scoop people.

The DoD , after the rise of the last surplus ban, decided to do a test study. They are currently in the process of TRYING what the letter has stated. They are weighing the benefits and drawbacks of such a move.

In other words ... they have a test study of a few bases, Ft. Campbell, KY is one of them, that they currently shred their brass. However, at this point it's only in the testing phases. They haven't come to a conclusion at this point. It will be several years before they decide the outcome of the STUDY.
His point was not to attack ATK unnecessarily. On the other hand, another member there contacted Gary Marbut who is standing behind the story. The thread is filled with links you might want to follow. It is here.
 

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I remember when this was happening during the Klinton years. There are other sources for brass, the U.S. G.I. Ammo Can is a different story, they are really worth their weight in gold. Put something into one, close it up and it still fresh after 25 years or two wars, which ever comes first.

Now and then I get CMP ammo, so I have the brass and the ammo can. This whole mess is going to drive prices up again.

I can't see any group reloading 10s of thousands of cartridges to do evil things when surplus ammo is cheap.

Jerry
 

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Merged the new thread with the original on the subject to conserve bandwidth.
 

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This is because they want to return the brass and make it into new cases rather than buying virgin stocks and paying the high prices. They would rather charge the price of the virgin stocks all while making a huge profit and paying virtually nothing for it. Its all profit driven.

Matt, you hit it right on the head.
It's simple Capitalism gentlemen. Free market capitalism where they guy with the ability to affect the market and bring a product to market to meet a demand makes the best deal.

Maybe anti trust laws could be looked at but if so, then there are a lot more industries that need to be looked at through the lens of anti trust cause its happening Everywhere in our economy.

This one just directly affects us shooters and reloaders and hits our wallets personally so to us it's a sacred cow.
 

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ATK said in a press release on Friday (the 26th), "ATK fully supports the provision passed by Congress last year to ensure that demilitarized spent brass casings remain available for civilian use." They have rescinded this policy of purchasing the brass from the installations and scrapping it.
Personally, I don't think that's enough. I feel the persons who hatched this little scheme, especially those who inferred in ATK literature that reloaders are potential terrorists, need to be named and terminated without severance or unemployment benefits as this little plot was nothing more than stealing money from the taxpayers (US Treasury) to pad ATK's profits.
 

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I'm just glad they backed off without it having to go through Congress. Typical bean counter penny squeezing/competition squeezing strategy. Probably didn't didn't go through vetting by anyone in public relations, much less through Speer or Federal or CCI or Alliant or any others among ATK's wholly owned subsidiaries who might actually be in tune with the shooting public. Just some MBA VP looking to get a gold star for creative thinking.

I fully expect those involved had no clue that reloading was something a significant number of gun owners do, much less that it would bring bad publicity down on their heads. Lake City is in the military ammo business and their customers don't reload. When board member Humpy started posting, I was surprised to learn nobody else testing ammo at Aberdeen had any serious interest in or knowledge of marksmanship or shooting sports. This is a government culture thing.
 

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ATK said in a press release on Friday (the 26th), "ATK fully supports the provision passed by Congress last year to ensure that demilitarized spent brass casings remain available for civilian use."
Do you have a link, by chance? The newest press release is on the atk.com website is from 3/19 and is about rocket motors.

Demilitarized brass casings are destroyed one. So, if it does say exactly that, then they still propose to destroy it before offering it to recyclers besides just ATK at LCAAP.
 

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A little more digging and I'm not so sure the situation is resolved at all.
Amanda Covington of ATK Armament Systems says that ATK is a strong supporter of our armed forces, the shooting sports industry, second amendment rights and all of our customers who choose to reload ammunition. In fact, ATK is a leader in the reloading market. The dated brochure and presentation have caused confusion in the marketplace and do not reflect the views of our company and will be immediately withdrawn. As a service to our military customers, we routinely handle demil operations for various munitions and respond to requests from military installations for reclamation and recycling of military items" she said. "Each contract is awarded through the military installation’s procurement process. The installations received fair value for the brass." ATK, she says, fully supports the provision passed by Congress last year to ensure that demilitarized spent brass casings remain available for civilian use."

It says the brochure and presentation will be withdrawn, not that the company policy will change. I'll have to look and find more on this.

ATK Contact Info:
http://www.atk.com/ContactUs/contactus_media.asp
 

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I work in a machine shop, and we just repaired one of their hammer mills. I don't think they have stopped crushing anything.
 
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