I found a bullet! Now what?

This past weekend I finally tackled the black hole known as my bedroom closet. I cleaned and rearranged everything, even to the point of looking on top of the inside door jamb. Lo and behold, there were two (2) high-powered shotgun shells nestled up there! :eek: :eek: :eek: I took them down and ran over to my neighbor-with-a-gun-permit’s house to confirm that yes, those were shotgun shells. (I’ve never shot or even held a gun, so this was altogether new to me.) I ended up giving him the shells since he had a shotgun, but I was left wondering: what are you supposed to do when you find a bullet lying around? I suspect you’re supposed to report it to the police, but I’m not really sure.

I’d imagine a police department or even a gun shop or even a shooting range could dispose of them properly.

:shrug: Throw it in the garbage?

Nah. Giving them to your neighbor is fine.

  1. Shotgun shells aren’t “bullets.”

  2. How do you know the shotgun shells you found were “high-powered”?

  3. Unless you suspect something criminal, why on Earth would you think you need to notify the police if you were to find some ammunition? (I can see calling them if you were wondering how to properly dispose of ammunition, but you seem to be under the assumption that the discovery of any ammunition is something that should be reported.)

  4. In any event, the shells were almost certainly placed there by a previous resident who wanted quick access to a couple of shells, but didn’t want to leave their shotgun loaded in the bedroom closet.

Bad idea. All of our trash goes to the incinerator, aka the “Waste-to-Energy” plant.

I agree that it ranks out a 2.0 on the old excitement meter. However, the shell is almsot certainly live because they don’t go bad if stored properly but, at the same time, it won’t go off on its own from any normal handling either. Just give it to someone with a shotgun who could use it. Shotgun shells are pretty pedestrian items in much of the country and can be found anywhere from the floorboard of pickup trucks to kitchen counters. We used to take them apart when I was younger but I doubt you have much interest in that.

To be picky, it’s not a bullet, it’s a cartridge. The bullet, or shot in the case of a shotgun, is the thing that comes out of the barrel when the cartridge is fired.

I’d ask your neighbor to dispose of them for you. There’s no need to notify the police unless you have some local law that strictly regulates the possession of ammunition. Old shotgun cartridges can be disassembled and recycled, although that’s best left to someone who is experienced in reloading ammunition. Your local government should have someone who can advise you on how to safely dispose of hazardous waste.

Had they been bullets, you could have disposed of them through a couple of “rounds” of indoor golf, as a couple of my frat brothers tried back in the 60s. Only one of them had to go to the hospital (shot himself in the foot with a sand wedge). He’s a respected dentist now.

(No, young dopers, don’t go doing this!)

Semantics aside as to rather they are bullets, shells, high-powered, or even blanks. Not relevant to the OP.

I’m not aware of any location where you would be required to report the find to any authority. But I haven’t been everywhere so ymmv.

First choice for disposal would be as you did. Give them to someone who could possibly use them. They would also be the most likely to recognize a potentially restricted round such as armor piercing or explosive that would need to go to the authorities. Though that’s not something you would be likely to find laying around.

Second choice would be to take them to your local sheriff’s or police department and simply let them know you found them and have no use for them. Depending on where you live, you might want to leave them in the vehicle while you go in and speak to someone. I imagine some locations would be edgy about a civilian bringing even loose ammo into the building.

Because non-gun-owners get all of their info about guns from TV shows, movies, and CNN, all of which have a very anti-gun bias on the whole, and tend to spread disinformation that helps to prop up the anti-gun lobby. One the hallmarks of these information sources is that anything other than a BB-gun is called “high-powered” to make it sound scarier.

A knowledgeable gun owner actually could draw some arbitrary fuzzy distinctions between “high powered” and “normal powered” for various classes of weapons, but the line the media and shows draw have nothing to do with any sort of rational scale. For instance, an AR-15 (ooooohhhh scarry “assault” rifle :rolleyes: ) is often called “high-powered” in the media, when the most common bolt-action deer-hunting rifles typically use cartridges with a lot more powder in them.

I know this is getting off the subject, but since there are a fair number of non-gun/anti-gun people around the board, and it shows in the questions and answers sometimes:

Straight Dopers of the non-gun-owning variety: I would highly recommend you all go find a local gun range some Saturday and head over. Most offer some kind of introductory course for total newbies, and will let you come back and practice on rented guns. Even if after trying it out you still think guns are evil and/or to be avoided, that’s fine, but at least you’d have a much more informed opinion. Listening to people who’ve never touched a gun in their lives argue against (or even about) them is like listening to someone who never got past 5th grade math try to poke holes in a new proof written by a math PhD.

<robby this isn’t aimed at you, I was just using one of your lines as a launching point>

I’m not familiar with the less-gun-friendly locales (NYC, Chicago, most of CA, etc), but in TX and presumably a lot of other reddish states, “special” ammunition such as tracers, AP (armor piercing), and Incendiary (they burn magnesium, phosphorous, or something similar for several seconds after impact, setting things on fire) rounds appear to be legal (IANAL, if you’re unsure, consult local laws first). You won’t often be able to actually find a source for buying them, as they’re mostly manufactured for the military, and the military isn’t allowed to sell them back to surplus markets as completed rounds. But from time to time, you do find small vendors selling them at gun shows and so-on, usually they built the cartridges themselves from standard cases/powder/primers plus pulled bullets sold off by the military or one of their contractors. Tracers are the most common one to find, whereas AP and Incendiary are a lot rarer. I’ve seen .50 Cal AP bullets for sale for reloaders, and APIT (Armor Piercing Incendiary Tracers, the total package) .223 rounds at gun shows here a few times.

You mentioned explosive rounds also though, and I’m less sure on those. They’re usually referred to as “HE”, and I think they may fall under the Destructive Devices part of the 1934 National Firearms Act, making them regulated (but still not necessarily illegal, provided you’ve done the paperwork and have the tax stamps) by the feds. I’ve certainly never seen any for sale at gun shows.

You are correct. Mostly. There are some AP rounds that require a class 3 license to purchase or possess, most notably the teflon coated “cop killers”. Tracers and incendiary rounds aren’t restricted above other “standard” rounds anywhere that I know of. Explosive rounds also require a class 3 license.

On research and review…

Since 1986, according to Title 18, U.S. Code Section 922, no one may manufacture or import armor-piercing ammunition for civilian use, nor may manufacturers or importers sell or deliver such ammunition to civilians without the permission of the attorney general.


They’re shotgun shells. Without a gun they aren’t much more than a really big firecracker and some pellets. Throw them out.

Just be glad that it wasn’t a hand grenade.

Dad died a few years ago. Mom and I were cleaning out his shop when we came to a shelf with a foot-deep pile of used points, caps and rotors for small block Chevys (Dad grew up in the Depression. He was a bit of a hoarder, but if he ever needed to do a points tune up for the most common V8 engine in the world, he was set!)

At the bottom of the pile we found a WWII vintage Japanese hand grenade that Dad had probably taken home after the war as a souveneir. It was too rusty to tell whether it had been deactivated, so I called 311 to ask how to get rid of it. At the words “hand grenade”, the operator stammered, transferred us to 911 and dispatched two squad cars (I’m just glad that she didn’t call in the SWAT team.) After explaining the situation, we all sat around for an hour feeling like idiots until a guy from the Bomb Squad arrived. He muttered something about all of his gear being packed away, picked up the grenade, placed it in his car and drove off.

Not sure about the latter. I’ve heard that Raufoss rounds are legal to own in the U.S. without paperwork.

I’ve got a lot of .50 BMG AP in the basement. Bought it over the internet w/ a credit card.

God I love this country. :smiley:

Jump to conclusions much?
Maybe the words ‘high power’ are printed on the shell.

Actually, I know they were high-powered because that’s what my neighbor called them when I handed them to him. He was surprised to see them, too. Apparently the previous owners of the house had a few secrets (like the pipe that was found in the shed. The pipe that was Not Used For Tobacco.)

And I apologize for calling them bullets. I also call ships boats sometimes. As I mentioned in the OP, I am not of the gun-owning/handling/wanting type, so I’m not up on the proper lingo. (While this sounds snarky, it’s not meant to be. I’ve had a long day.)

I was wondering if I had to report them to the police because I wasn’t sure about the proper handling procedures for found ammunition. Thanks to all for reassuring me that I did right.

Did ya give it to the neighbor? :smiley:

Long before I became a cop I found a bag of .45 ammo my father kept from the Marine Corps. From 1945. I brought it into the police station I now work at. They took the ammo and I left. Didn’t even take my name. If you feel bad about throwing it out just turn it in and they will be disposed of.