I am asked to go to Tombstone Arizona, where a gunfight is about to take place. I go to the office of Wyatt Earp.

 

“Mr Earp,” I said, “I understand there’s going to be some trouble this afternoon in your town?”

 

“There’s trouble in my town every morning, afternoon, and evening but that’s par for the course here in Tombstone – why do you ask?”

 

“People have told me that those who are shot are filled full of lead. Are you aware of this?”

 

“It’s an expression in these parts – do you have a problem with that?”

 

“As a health and safety executive I do have a problem, because lead is a known poison and actively filling people with lead is against the poisonous substances abuse act and I would caution you not to knowingly break this act by shooting other people with lead bullets.”

 

“It’s the impact of the bullets that kills and injures folks, not the content of the bullets, mister, so I think you’re wide of the mark there.”

 

“But people die from lead poisoning who would otherwise have lived, so I don’t think I am wide of the mark as you put it. How about using another metal instead of lead that wouldn’t be so poisonous to your victims?”

 

“Such as what, mister?”

 

“How about silver or gold? Just think about the exclusivity of having silver and/or gold bullets in your gun, just think how people would envy your wealth when the news gets around – people will be queueing up to be shot by you, all the bad guys would be here in no time at all.”

 

“Gold is too soft and would cause worse injuries if it was successfully fired from a gun, but silver that might just work especially if combined with some iron to make it harder.”

 

“Would you try that. Mr Earp?”

“I will try 50% iron and 50% silver and see if that makes any difference to my accuracy. It will also make me sound like a rich man, promising to fill the villains full of iron and silver. I hope no one wants to steal my bullets from me.”

Extract from the Diary of a Health and Safety Executive