Skip to comments.High-Capacity-Magazine Bans (They won't help much either)
Posted on 12/19/2012 7:53:45 PM PST by SeekAndFind
Bans on high-capacity magazines (variously defined as those holding more than ten, fifteen, or twenty rounds) seem to be part of just about every law to ban assault weapons. The rationale is to prevent the ability to engage in killing sprees like the one on Friday in Connecticut.
Would a ban on high-capacity magazines (and not just a ban on new manufacture, as the 1994 federal law provided) make any difference in these massacres of the unarmed? I am hard pressed to see how. Detachable-magazine pistols and rifles have been in common use in the United States for more than a century. To replace an empty magazine with a fully loaded one typically takes one to two seconds, even under stressful conditions.
In a gunfight, being able to reload with new magazines is a real advantage, and this is why police officers and licensed civilians regularly carry spare magazines for their pistols. The deputy sheriff who was my concealed-weapons instructor in California emphasized to our class the importance of always having at least four spare magazines on your belt in case you are attacked.
When magazine bans were first proposed, the theory was that they would make police officers safer when attacked by criminals. But even the Clinton administrations 1999 study of the federal assault-weapons ban (which banned new manufacture of magazines over ten rounds) found no statistically significant differences in murder rates of police officers because of the new law. This justification for the ban on high-capacity magazines has not survived real-world experiment.
How much actual advantage does a high-capacity magazine give to a monster who is shooting unarmed people? Practically none. The victims have no idea whether he is about to change magazines and are therefore in no position to flee or engage in a barehand attack (even if one of them has the remarkable coolness of mind to try something that courageously foolhardy). For practical purposes, a mass murderer with ten-round magazines is about as deadly as one with 20-round magazines. I suppose if you were to impose a really low limit, such as two or three rounds, you would start to make a real difference in these horrors, but that brings us to the other side of the equation.
A recurring question that I hear from gun-control advocates is, Why does anyone need high-capacity magazines? The implication is that they have no legitimate function. If they dont, they should be prohibited to police officers, who carry handguns for self-defense; their job is not to shoot people in summary execution. A police officers use of a handgun is not so terribly different from that of a civilian with a gun in his home or, if licensed, on his person. While it is rare for either a police officer or a civilian to need 15 or 20 rounds in a gunfight, it is not unknown, and in some cases it is the difference between life and death for individuals engaged in self-defense. (When I lived in the Los Angeles area, I knew two different couples who experienced multiple invasions of their homes by intruders, with horrendous results. Yes, this has made me a little sensitive to the problem.)
There is one other situation where a high-capacity magazine serves a necessary, even praiseworthy function. During the riots following the Rodney King trial, many shopkeepers in the Korean section of Los Angeles confronted mobs threatening to loot and burn the stores. Some of the shopkeepers used high-capacity magazines in rifles to avoid taking lives. Yes, you read that right. By firing two or three shots over the heads of the rioters, the shopkeepers were able to impress on these criminals that they should keep their distance or risk death. Because they had 30-round magazines in their rifles, they could afford to fire two or three warning shots. Had they been limited to three or five rounds per magazine, they likely would have had the choice of abandoning their stores or making every bullet deadly.
On a shooting range, its really quite easy to keep every shot on the paper. Things are a bit different in a high-stress, poorly illuminated gunfight inside your home, where it is possible that for every three or four shots you fire, only one delivers an incapacitating blow to an attacker. Yes, you can change magazines rapidly with a modern pistol or rifle, but it is better not to have that distraction in the middle of a gunfight.
It is true that where I live now, I dont worry about intruders or even burglary. I also havent had a flat tire in more than 100,000 miles, but I still keep a spare in the trunk: The cost of doing so is low, and the consequences of not being ready for that rare situation are too high. A high-capacity magazine is like that spare tire.
Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill.
At the Giffords shooting, most of the people killed or were wounded within the first ten rounds.
In the first three shots, Giffords was almost killed. Another person wounded and Judge Roll killed.
A limit of 10 rounds would not have prevented those.
After those three rounds people tried to scatter but were hampered.
It doesn’t take long to swap out multiple smaller magazines.
The old Remington .22 semi auto I hunted squirrels with held 16 longs or 18 shorts.
The standard capacity magazine seems to be 15 to 17 rounds these days, at least for 9mm. Thirteen rounds has been the standard capacity for the 9mm Browning Hi-Power since 1935.
They aren’t just wanting to ban high capacity magazines, whatever they are.
They want to ban standard capacity magazines.
Its all just bloviation by pols wanting to look good to the folks back home. People can make their own high capacity magazines....
So, the killer shows up with 3, .38 revolvers, 18 rounds in all. Kills 17 victims and then himself.
Well, I guess banning “high capacity magazines” sure minimized the carnage.
If you were able to limit the school killer to a single 10-round magazine, he still could have killed 20 kids, 10 with each gun. Or maybe he would have only killed 10, instead of 20.
So apparently, the “solution” to having 20 kids killed is to limit the total deaths to 10 kids killed. That doesn’t seem like much of a solution to me.
I wonder if someone will make a large capacity magazine, sorta like Calico’s helical feed design - but make it integral rather than detachable?
Or maybe 20, he just wouldn't have needed to shoot each child as often.
I trace the resurgence of interest in John Moses Browning's 1911 (the standard 1911 magazine is 7 rounds, 8 with a protruding magazine) and the .45 ACP and larger rounds to the 1994 AWB. Browning's last design, the Hi-Power, has a standard 13 round magazine, almost double the 1911. If you're going to be restricted in magazine capacity, wouldn't you want the largest rounds that could possibly fit?
In an old WWII documetary on the M1 it indicated that one man using a M1 can do nearly as much damage as 3 men using a Springfield bolt action.
The M1 Garand used a 8 round clip.
One discussion of the AWB noted that once the gun manufacturers had to make guns with only 10-round magazines, they made them smaller so they would be easier to conceal.
***People can make their own high capacity magazines....***
This is true! But don’t tell anyone! The VC used to do it in VN all the time. Converting 20 rd magazines to 30 and 40 rounds with miinimal tools.
I have been told its really not that difficult. Take two short magazines, remove the bottom of one, cut the top off the other, weld them together........
Hey man, keep it quiet!
What amazes me about this entire discussion...is that there is some mythical magic formula in everyone’s mind about gun magazines. Some guys from WW II would swear that a 10-bullet clip was sufficient...in that you wanted every single round to count and didn’t fire wildly. Guys from Nam would swear that they would have asked for 40-round clips...in that you just aimed in a direction and fired off as much as you could. Hunters will tell you that a 6-round clip is sufficient. And then you have some Democratic political figure telling you their magical and mythical dream of a ammo-clip.
If you could have dragged George Washington out and whispered into his ear that you had the potential for a 2-round clip....he would have been totally fascinated and wanted a demonstration.
Its not like everybody doesn’t already have high capacity mags anyway.