“When the San Bernardino elementary school gunman paused to reload his gun, students were able to escape,” thetrace.org reports. “Cedric Anderson opened fire on his estranged wife’s classroom on Monday, but his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver only held six bullets; as he reloaded, a teacher’s aide led pupils out of harm’s way.” . . .

Click here for The Trace’s June 16 take on why “some experts” think “restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines, rather than assault weapons bans, may be the best way to limit mass shooting casualties.”

Suffice it so say, as we mark the ten-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech spree killing, some active shooters will use multiple guns to maintain a high rate of fire, while some will use standard capacity magazines to do the same.

The “high capacity” genie is out of the bottle. The key to stopping a mass shooter is to stop him before he, she or they attack, or shoot the killer or killers as soon as possible. Yes?

77 Responses to Question of the Day: Do Mag Limits Limit Mass Murder?

  1. It really depends on what the gunman intentions are. If he or she plans for Mass casualties they will simply equip them self with more magazines to reload. All the way down to making bombs so really you’re not going to restrict anything by Banning high capacity magazines I hate using that word. I called them normal capacity magazines in which the weapon system was designed to operate with.

    • ^This!!!
      Everyone. Lets say it together now:
      Standard.
      Capacity.
      Magazines.
      As far as capacity is concerned, please see “The Goliad Massacre” , those firearms used only had one shot each – didn’t do the victims a bit of good…

      • “Cedric Anderson opened fire on his estranged wife’s classroom on Monday, but his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver only held six bullets; as he reloaded, a teacher’s aide led pupils out of harm’s way.”

        Fake news. It was a .327 revolver, not a .357, and he didn’t try to shoot any students, according to police.

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/04/10/police-two-dead-murder-suicide-san-bernardino-school/100293458/

        “The two children were standing behind Smith at the time of the shooting, Burguan said. ‘We have no reason to believe the students were targeted,’ he said.”

        Double-fail, Trace. Better luck next time (you MUST be using luck, because you aren’t using facts…).

      • My brother tells me one of our family went went off to Texas and the family believed he was one of the men slaughtered at Goliad. When he was stationed in Texas he went to see the Goliad monument and the name was there, so many of the families never found out what happened to their sons. Still happens today, though less frequently.

    • I agree with James Earl…. MagPull markets the 30 round magazines as the “Standard Capacity” Magazine. After Sandy Hook and the many proposed firearm and magazines were proposed (and failed) there were so many AR type rifles and magazines sold that some estimate America has a 100-200 year supply of rifles, magazines and ammunition…. and almost all are owned by law abiding citizens…

    • Due to the recent terrorist attacks in the EU, we should ban high capacity SUVs with automatic transmissions. Its for the children dammit

  2. No it won’t make any difference. How many standard size magazines exist in the USA? 300 million? 500 million? If someone is bent enough to start killing multiple people just because, then magazine laws will mean as much as prohibition on mass murderer laws. The only answer is to allow everyone who wants to bear arms for self preservation do so with the least amount of hassle. IE, follow the limits placed by the 2nd amendment.

  3. “Do Mag Limits Limits Mass Murder?”

    Hell, no!

    Tell you what, how many people could a whack-job kill if the whack-job had a revolver that uses moon clips and cargo shorts with pockets filled with clipped ammo?

    I’d say *easily* in the hundreds…

  4. Guns are not even the best tools for mass killing. What we SHOULD do is keep pushing the invincible American gun myth so that these mangy twits keep trying to shoot us.

    • I hate to say it but you are dead on accurate. We can only hope the crazies in the US keep employing firearms instead of other means to inflict damage. At least with a gun attack it’s easy to identify the threat and eliminate it if we stay armed and vigilant. I would rather face that than a bomb any day.

    • ANFO is so easy to make children can do it, Gelignite is a little harder, but if you can bake a cake from a recipe you can make it just fine. Neither require ingredients or lab ware that can’t be had with a trip to a home depot and a couple of grocery stores. A gallon a gasoline vapor has the equivalent explosive potential of at least 10 sticks of dynamite and a workable fuel air bomb design is a Google search away. Napalm equivalent can likewise be made from household chemicals, powerful corrosives and acids are readily available, as are concentrated pesticides, and delivery systems are again only a websearch away.
      The bottom line is that guns are a really poor way for an individual to cause mass casualties, but the best way to defend one’s self from unexpected attack. Make guns hard enough to get and carry, there will be fewer defenders equipped for the task, while those intent on mass murder will find better methods of carrying it out.

      So far what we’ve seen of bombs and the like have been poor attempts, perhaps because they were considered as an afterthought, adjunct to the guns. The big exception was the OK City bombing that inflicted 168 fatalities and 680 other casualties, and via a method that would be largely impossible to counter at the average mall, sporting event, etc.

      Given, a truck bomb is a big undertaking, but something a lot smaller driven into a crowd…

      There are things I just wont put on the Internet, but a few grand and a few days work has the potential to inflict truely massive numbers of casualties AND leave the perpetrator free and unharmed to do it again, or with a handy escape from thier pathetic life, or a martyrs ticket to heaven. If that’s not scary enough, the same actions taken against certain infrastructure targets could result in both major disruption of the local economy as well as heavy casualties resulting from civil disorder and a combination of lack of timely access to medical care and unsanitary living conditions, as well as incidental casualties from the stupid things people do in emergencies (like build fires in bathtubs indoors).

      Then again, it looks like the terrorists have clued to the idea that a truck is a better weapon against a crowd than is a rifle, and it’s not as if we can ban trucks, or murderers, or terrorists.

      Try telling all that though to some moron wearing a pussy hat, drinking over-priced coffee because it’s ‘socially aware’ and who is incapable of setting aside either their childish emotions or their fantasies when it comes to forming positions or opinions on important things. I suppose that to alienate the problem and save the Republic we would need to find all fix for stupid, immature people, and you know what they say about fixing stupid…

  5. “Cedric Anderson opened fire on his estranged wife’s classroom on Monday, but his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver only held six bullets; as he reloaded, a teacher’s aide led pupils out of harm’s way.”

    Huh? It wasn’t a mass shooting, it was a murder suicide with collateral damage. I’ve heard/seen nothing to indicate he had any interest in shooting the children, he emptied his revolver making sure his target was down, reloaded and took himself out of the picture.

    • Agreed, the shooter was only targeting one person. Whether he had 6 rounds or 30 rounds won’t have made a difference.

    • More lies from the Trace. Are we surprised? No. What is sad, though, is that people truly believe these lies. Just like the lie that ammunition licensing requirements will somehow limit gang violence in California cities a lie that was bought by 64% of the population in California. Or that eliminating “assault weapons” and unregistered homemade guns will cause “gun violence” rates to go down. Unicorns and rainbows, palliatives to the fearful.

    • Looking at a murder-suicide and equating the low body count to the revolver’s low capacity is like looking at a 3-gun match and concluding the lowest casualty rates come from having the most guns and rounds expended in one place. Intent matters.

  6. No, no it won’t. We already have dozens of well documented examples of why magazine limits don’t work.

  7. In this case I’m pretty sure it was the fact that he was there to kill two people and only two people. Himself and his wife.

    If he wanted to wipe out a classroom with a revolver he could have.

    The only reason anyone was able to lead or be lead out of that classroom is the shooter wasn’t interested in any of them.

  8. in a true “mass shooter” incident, please let me be within a few blocks, with a long gun and a go-ahead, fuck no I wouldn’t have remorse, I would feel more like I’ve done my duty as an American citizen.

  9. “Do Mag Limits Limits Mass Murder?”

    No, not at all.

    Indiana Sheriff Ken Campbell aptly demonstrates that destructive capability is NOT a function of magazine capacity:

    • If destructive capability is not a function of magazine capacity, then is defensive capability also not a function of magazine capacity. If so, then why not just give them this one so they’ll shut up?

      • History shows that no compromise with the antis is permanent, but instead merely sets the stage for the next grab. If you can only have ten round mags, why not make it five? and if you only “need” five, why not ban semi-auto guns altogether? Moreover, as the discussion here shows, mag capacity makes no difference, so why should we voluntarily limit our rights on something that will have no effect on reducing the casualties in mass killings?

        • Records and notes found in the Clinton library after he left office discussed further gun control after the AWB was in effect. The hope was that the sunset provision would have been stricken from the bill as the years went by. The Democrats didn’t count on the AWB actually sowing the seeds of their own destruction in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. The AWB with it’s mag cap limits, was a “first step” – even the press at the time acknowledged that. I think the WaPo said “This bill on it’s own won’t do much, but we know it’s a deliberate move to condition the public to accept further gun control…”

          The notes I speak of discussed things like further bans on AR-pattern rifles, confiscations and buybacks, limits on purchases (one gun a month), ammunition purchase limits, and even restrictions on advertising, i.e. the industry would only have limited marketing channels available to them. The Democrats were willing to gut free speech to restrict firearms.

          Gun control’s always been incremental, because the progressives don’t want to risk a civil war by asking for the whole enchilada (confiscation and ban) all at once.

      • 1. Because they won’t shut up.

        2. Magazine capacity matters when you are not planning on heading into a fight. If you aren’t planning on killing a bunch of people, then you are probably carrying 1-3 magazines. If you are planning on killing a bunch of people, then you are probably carrying as much as you think you can without limiting mobility.

      • A second to change magazines matters in a self-defense situations, where somebody is actually trying to harm you, under circumstances of their choosing, not yours. Mass shooting incidents are not fights, they are slaughters. They deliberately choose their targets so that nobody will be fighting back, and usually fold when somebody does. They have all the time in the world to reload or switch weapons. And whereas it’s not very practical to carry a backpack full of revolvers everywhere you go for defensive purposes, it’s more than feasible for a mass shooter who knows where and when he will strike.

      • Jonathan,

        TX_Lawyer and DaveL covered the bases pretty well.

        Remember, in terms of self-defense, I — all alone at that — could easily be facing two, three, even four attackers. In that scenario I need as much magazine capacity as possible to fend off multiple attackers … and stopping my counterattack for even 1 second (to change magazines) while I am taking fire could cause my demise.

        Note that a spree killer virtually never faces a single armed defender who counterattacks, much less multiple armed defenders who counterattack. Thus, the spree killer can easily spend two or three seconds changing magazines or firearms at will.

      • Giving the antis any ground is telling them that they are right.
        If “standard” 30 round magazines hold too many rounds, then how many are “enough?” 20? 10? 7 (as New York tried? Remember, there are no 7 round AR magazines)? 5? 1?
        Then, since we have said magazine size matters, what about caliber? Surely large bullets cause more damage than small ones? Remember, we are talking about people who do not understand that a .22 rimfire bullet and a bullet out of an “assault rifle” are the same size, just different weight and velocity. This is, to them, a distinction without a difference.
        No, there is no “compromise” with the grabbers. To them, a compromise is they only take some of our rights, not all of them. Look at the rules we already have:
        One gun a month. You can still buy guns, just one a month.
        Only 10 round magazines. You can still have your guns, but only with 10 round magazines.
        No concealed (or open) carry. You can still have your guns, but you can’t carry them.
        It goes on and on. Compromise after compromise; but we always lose, they never lose. That’s not compromise.
        No, never give in to those who want to destroy your rights. The antis in this case (those against the 2A) have very clearly stated their goals: The elimination of the second amendment, and the confiscation of all guns. Your suggestion is only giving in to their goals.

  10. No. Box magaz ines are cheap and quick to swap, and even if you could ban all removable maga zines anyone bent on a high body count could acquire multiple firearms. I don’t really see any situation where a couple revol vers and a pump 12ga couldn’t create just as much carnage as Glock 17 and an AR.

    • +1

      I have spelled this out before on The Truth About Guns. Imagine three revolvers chambered in .44 Magnum with 6-inch barrels and loaded with 300 grain hardcast lead bullets. Each bullet could easily kill three people in a crowd or classroom. Thus, the person operating those three revolvers holding 18 cartridges are fully capable of killing 54 people (54 == 18 x 3) without even reloading.

      • As long as you line up your shots to go through multiple people, but the same could be done with a lower recoiling cartridge, like a hardcast .357.

      • Load the pump with slugs and you’d get a similar effect. I can attest that they’ll go clean through a deer the long way.

        It doesn’t take much more time to grab 6 shells from a pocket and load up a revo lver than it does to swap a magazine out. With multiple weapons it would be extremely unlikely that unarmed victims could disarm a shooter doing tactical reloads. Plus, even with a .357, a shooter is likely to kill more and wound less. It’s probably fortunate that these psycho-killers don’t usually have much of an imagination and just take whatever’s available and scary looking.

        • You don’t need to “grab 6 shells from a pocket” to reload a revolver; a loader holds those 6 shells, and reloads the revolver much more quickly, and they are available at pretty much any gun show.

        • True, and you can buy two or three for the price of a single pist ol magazi ne. They do take a little practice to be proficient with, but it can be done just as fast as a mag swap. But I was thinking in terms of this future world where box magaz ines have been banned and successfully eradicated from society. I’m guessing they’d take our speed loaders too. Would stop a motivated killer though. Wouldn’t even slow him down much.

  11. With respect to severe magazine capacity restrictions, the only thing that anyone can accurately claim is an ever so slight probability of reduced casualty count.

    Sheriff Ken Campbell in the video that I linked above shows that magazine changes in-and-of-themselves basically do not slow down a spree killer. The only thing magazine capacity restrictions do is force a spree killer to change magazines more often … which increases the probability that the shooter fumbles a reload and the reload ends up taking a few seconds longer. And that probability is tiny. And the reduction of casualty count is whatever number of people manage to escape, that would not have escaped otherwise, in those extra few seconds.

    Regardless, scumbags who misuse something to harm others does not justify laws which prohibit EVERYONE from owning that item.

    • ^^^ Agree ^^^

      Additionally, regardless of what label/flavor of unjustifiable homicide and/or serious bodily harm to any victim, through the use of any weapon, any law banning any weapon and its supporting gear –will not stop– any person with the intent of criminal behavior, from completing there criminal task.

      I offer the following example:
      It is illegal to break-in and steal another persons or entities property as well as damage to said property in the commission of the aforementioned crime. However, that did not seem/appear to stop –Joseph A. Jakubowski– from illegally/criminally completing his preliminary goals; I.E. acquire weapons and ammo via burglary to possibly commit a more serious crime.

      What part of the word –criminal– do some of the legislatures, who support banning weapon(s) and supporting gear, not understand?

      Please edit where needed …

      • You forgot the most important part: according to the antis and their legislators, anyone who would want to own a gun is a criminal. Gun owners being by definition dangerous, it is necessary to limit as far as possible the havoc, death and destruction they will cause.

  12. Scientifically, yes, anything that reduces a shooter’s efficiency will limit mass murder to some degree.

    However, if we go down that road, we should make breakfast illegal. It has been scientifically proven that people function more efficiently if they eat a good breakfast. We should also make cars illegal, since if an active shooter has to walk or take public transportation to the scene of the crime with their arsenal in hand, it will discourage them significantly.

    Every freedom has pluses and minuses. So is the freedom to own standard capacity magazines worth the risks that they will be used in an irresponsible manner?

    Discuss.

  13. Do governors on car motors limit speeding fines and incidents? Do smaller gas tanks lead to less driving distances?

  14. He used a revolver. A revolver. He had a specific target, and knew he only needed a few shots to accomplish his goal. A revolver was enough.

    Next point: The POTG always, and I mean ALWAYS argue this wrong. When people ask if mag limits are acceptable to prevent the deaths of more kids, they are using an emotional argument, and we always respond with arguments of utility and logic (reload speed, VA Tech, etc.) The proper response is “Fuck you, you don’t get to tell me what I’m allowed to use to defend myself from someone intent on killing me. I have a wife and a daughter, my life and the life of my family is worth more than some murdering fuckhead.” Tailor as needed.

  15. A older black man who uses a revolver (which he couldn’t legally own) to kill someone at a school.

    I see that it took them awhile to come up with a way this event could work for their narrative.

  16. This is my take. Less than 250 people die from “Assault Rifles” every year. Less than drown in swimming pools which is around 300. About 50 people die from bee stings and about 30 from dogs. In the grand scheme of deaths in the US rifles and magazines used in them are not worth having a discussion about. That’s just the facts of it. Taking away others rights for such a small amount of deaths is not democratic and not American which is based on individual freedoms.

    More illegals kill Americans than Americans with rifles. So the more logical discussion is common sense immigration laws.

  17. Murder/suicide. And the little boy he killed as collateral damage. He was also able to traipse in because his estranged wife hadn’t “notified” the school he was a lowlife scum POS killer…

  18. The nutjob in Newtown left half empty mags all over the school, I think he must have been having jams or misfeeds, rather than clear it he just swapped in a fresh mag, Didn’t top him from butchering innocent babies, but oddly enough a sheet or two of Lexan at the school entrance and doors the teachers could lock from the inside would have. Go figure.

      • Bullshit. If we can protect money and politicians we can protect kids, all it takes is the will to do it over time. The gun grabbers think they can take away close to 400 million firearms and they ain’t willing to give up on it.

      • That is the thinking that keeps things from being done.
        I remember when computers were too expensive to be in a home. Now?
        Solar cells were just too expensive to be put on the rooftop of a home. Now?
        Cars used to be the playthings of the rich. Now?
        Cell phones used to be very expensive. Now?

        According to you, everything that is new or too expensive just isn’t viable. You’re wrong.

      • No, just doors.
        Shooting at a door alerts school officials to an attack, allowing the people designated conceal carriers to tool up and assume defensive positions.
        Crawling through a window that was broken and breached, again, warning time and emergency plan activated (with designated approved armed employees).
        Most security measures in a building like a school with mass movements of people can only be designed to slow an attacker thus giving time to react. Armed school employees are the only ones that can react in this short time window. Even Lexon everywhere would not give a normal police response enough time to stop an A.L. type attack.

  19. To follow this logic we must get rid of large trucks. The scum bag in Nice France killed over 70 people in less than 90 seconds with a truck. Why? Because it was easier than getting a gun or building a bomb. Evil will find a way to manifest itself. The only thing we can do is kill it with every means available. Those who chose not to are welcome to die. I choose to fight and no one will tell me what weapon or how many bullets I can load in it. Survival is up to those who choose to fight for their survival.

  20. Any half-wit can do a mag change in under two seconds with practice. If I’m not mistaken, the college kid in California a few years ago who used his firearm and ran down people with his BMW, the gun he acquired was via the onerous California process, and the magazines were all CA-compliant 10-rounders. He had the element of surprise and did what he sought out to do. When he ran out of ammo, he used his car. Californians didn’t call for the ban of BMWs for some reason…how else would the douchebags get from point A to point B over there anyways?

    Also, bear in mind that an attacking party hitting a soft target has the element of shock and surprise. Imagine if you will, a succession of 10 rounds being fired in an enclosed space, with everyone in that space not having ear protection. Most would be stunned and disoriented by the noise, and not really in any shape to do some sort of mystical ninja move on the shooter while he effects a mag change. Yeah, there’s a chance there could be an unaffected person a few rooms down who has his hearing and faculties, but that guy has to realize what’s going down, then find the source of the noise.

    In the interim, the shooter pretty much can do whatever the heck he wants. He could empty a mag, chug a Red Bull, check his phone, then slap in another mag and keep going. Doubtful that he’d be interfered with in those interminable minutes between the start of hostilities and the time the cops show up, especially since in soft target environments, staff isn’t likely to be armed.

  21. “The panel also considered whether the previous federal Assault Weapons Act of 1994 that banned 15-round magazines would have made a difference in the April 16 incidents. The law lapsed after 10 years, in October 2004, and had banned clips or magazines with over 10 rounds. The panel concluded that 10-round magazines that
    were legal would have not made much difference in the incident. Even pistols with rapid loaders could have been about as deadly in this situation.” -Page 74

    https://governor.virginia.gov/media/3772/fullreport.pdf

  22. All this shooting does is provide more evidence that gun control doesn’t work. The shooting took place in a gun free zone.

    Additionally, the shooter may have been a prohibited person. The police chief stated that he had an arrest history. I don’t know if there were any convictions.

  23. Jerry Miculek could kill the entire human population faster than it would take ICBMs to cross the world. We should have a strategic arms treaty limiting the amount of Jerry Miculeks each country can have.

    • Trucks surely do. Wonder how many will be willing to surrender their pickups and SUVs, and switch to 25cc scooters.

  24. I personally think that three things matter significantly more than magazine capacity, and are more significant to the point that mag capacity isn’t a priority to concern ourselves with.

    1) As others have said, intent. A person hell bent on causing death and destruction will find a way. From improvised explosives to a bunch of revolvers to an AR with a drum mag. Intent matters the most.

    2) Intelligence or perhaps “Mass Shootings IQ”. The person’s ability to plan, know the area and know the weapons they’re using matters. If they’re willing to plan and practice to the point they can reload a revolver in, say, 4x the time it takes Jerry Miculak then a revolver is plenty. If James Holmes had understood how to clear a malfunction in his AR he’d have done a lot more damage.

    3) Luck. Someone related to both the others is luck. It’s been argued that mag size matters because people took down Jared Loughner while he was reloading. Well, luckily, he had also waded into the crowd which made tackling him possible. I don’t like to “what if” a situation but if he had properly positioned himself that guy probably could have done a lot more damage and avoided bring tackled during his reload. Of course it’s also possible that an F250 with a brush guard at 50mph would have done more damage…

  25. From what I’ve read the police took 8 or 9 minutes to show up in the classroom. A crazy person with a single shot rifle could have done a lot of damage in that amount of time. Probably good the guy blew his brains out.

    Yet dummies in Sacramento are already trying to ban school districts from allowing teachers/administrators to arm themselves.

  26. I fired my first couple thousand rounds through 15-33 round mags or revolvers. I finally got a 22 pistol which has the usual 10 rounders, and being the kind with finger-things on the side they’re pretty easy to load. But yeesh, it’s still difficult and time consuming to practice without >10 capacity! I’d be worried mag bans would interfere with peoples’ ability to acquire the necessary skill to use a gun for self defence. Sure it can still be done, but we’re not all enthusiasts. The time and money hardship will affect low income shooters and those who have trouble finding the time.

  27. The short answer is: No.
    The long answer is: No.
    As has been pointed out above, though, the question only admits of one answer: Yes. Why? Because the question is an emotional one, and logic is not involved, nor allowed.
    “Those children are dead!” is an emotional argument for whatever is needed to stop something. Right now, that something is guns.
    The fact that limiting magazine size will have no actual effect on mass shootings is irrelevant. What is relevant is that mass killings happen, and they must be stopped.
    But how? Emotion has the easy answer: Ban whatever caused the killing. But emotion is a poor evaluator of fact. It wasn’t the gun, it was the person. And, we just can’t ban people, so we must do the next best thing: Ban the tool. Emotion says so. And there is no argument that works against emotion.
    Well, that’s not true: Time works against emotion, but time is often not given, um, time to work.

  28. Excellent!

    Harry and punish those mass murderers!

    Let them know We care; let’s force them into bringing more firearms and chest rigs with 10-round mags, cooking pipe bombs, drilling in tactical reloads. Surely the magnitude of task will prevent the tragedy.

    To play it safe, a ban on legally owned supressors of any kind should be implemented, as a preventive measure. Lest someone will fashion a makeshift silencer for large-cap .22!

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