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As we talk about a new ban on large-capacity magazines, let’s consider the history. Back during the 1994-2004 “assault weapons ban,” Congress never banned large-capacity magazines. It banned their manufacture and import. If you had one, you were as free as can be to use it and even sell it. Between the time Congress passed the law and the day the law went into effect — and even during the debate over it — manufacturers cranked them out by the gazillion to get them grandfathered in. It’s entirely possible that the “ban” put more large-capacity magazines on the street than would have been there without the ban.

We could increase the penalties for using a high-capacity magazine in a crime, I suppose, but if someone is out to commit murder, a law like that isn’t going to dissuade him.

Look at the crime stats for the ten years of the so-called “assault rifle ban” and you find no change in the percentage of killings or assaults committed with rifles v. handguns. That’s the practical problem: a new “ban” wouldn’t do anything to reduce violence or save lives.

What you would create is a gigantic political problem that the Democrats don’t need right now. High-capacity magazines aren’t just for mass-murderers. “Practical shooting” is a pretty big sport — people running through a kind of course shooting at targets against the clock. They use big magazines to save time. Well, that’s a small constituency, you could say. But another attempt to ban these things will be well covered by the gun press and the gun bloggers, and all gun guys are going to feel dissed and abused, whether they engage in practical shooting or not.

If such a ban would actually do some good — i.e. save some lives — we could argue about whether it’s worth taking some heat from the gun guys over it. But politics is a cost-benefit analysis: What are you going to get vs. what you’re going to lose. In this case, Progressives have a tremendous amount to lose, and almost nothing to gain.

What the talk of a new large-magazine ban sounds like to the gun people is the liberals desperately looking for a way to use this disaster to trim back gun rights a little. It reinforces the toxic narrative that the Democrats are the enemy of regular guys.

Again, we aren’t going to gain anything by such a new law. But we’re sure going to lose a lot.

[Dan Baum is a respected author and TTAG commentator. Please visit his website so that we can convince him to cross-post here regularly.]

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  1. There is no doubt that the attempt to ban these magazines backed fired and created a hugh supply and hugh profits for all involved. The majority of crimes involving these so called high cap mags is practically non existent. Most bad guys and gangsters use standard mags or revolvers.

  2. “What the talk of a new large-magazine ban sounds like to the gun people is the liberals desperately looking for a way to use this disaster to trim back gun rights a little.”

    As an admitted “gun person,” I think that the gun control mantra is a liberal shibboleth, like saying”tomahto” instead of “tomayto.” It reinforces a certain sense of moral superiority that liberals seem desperately to need and to rub in our faces. Further, I think the liberal argument is less about gun control and the Second Amendment than it is about thought control and the exercise of power. Guns are tools, nothing more or less. For owners, guns are tools for fun, self-defense, hunting or whatever. For liberals, guns are tools to bash us with. If it wasn’t guns, it would be something else. So, we instinctively draw the line at guns, because we don’t know or want to know what’s coming next. We just know that something’s coming.

  3. In the realm of political strategy, whether banning high capacity magazines would save lives is immaterial. What matters to politicians is whether they are perceived as taking action, caring, tough on crime, etc. As such, if liberal Democrats think they can use this issue to cast Republicans as appearing to defend mass murderers and hate speech, they will do so. After all, they’ve got to win back the House and reelecting Obama.

  4. Ralph, I hang out with liberals all the time. None of us says tomahto. And I think it’s a little simpler than “liberals hate freedom.” We’re the ones who lead the charge on First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, every time. Your guys like guns, so our guys don’t. When gun rights expand, your side wins. When gun control measures pass, our side wins.
    As a card-carrying liberal who likes guns and thinks gun control is both political suicide for my side, and fundamentally wrongheaded policy, I’m doing all I can to bust up this ossified thinking. So I feel the need to call you on it. Liberals don’t hate freedom, don’t hate America, don’t side with the terrorists, don’t feel morally superior, or any of that. We simply have our vision of the way the world should be that differs from yours, and unfortunately gun rights — like abortion, school prayer, and a few others — is a battlefield on which we meet.

    • Interesting. I’m a card-carrying conservative who strongly favors abortion rights because what happens in a womb is no government’s business. I oppose school prayer because it’s always somebody else’s prayer. I’ve argued in favor of rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in courtrooms, and always against a government that found such rights to be inconvenient. On top of which I never claimed that liberals hate their country or hate freedom, so I have no idea where that came from. What I do believe is that the liberal ideal of government is so obtrusive that freedom under such a rule is an illusion. And I also believe that anything dreamed up by politicians — left or right — is really about enhancing their power, and never about anything else. I think the right wing ideal is safer, because it limits government. Which, by the way, is what the Constitution is, or was, all about. Are we really so far apart?

    • Mr. Baum I’m exactly like you, I just wish I had more courage to stand up to all the kool-aid progressives in my medical school class. Good luck in your endeavours.

  5. Gun control is political Kryptonite, and any serious Democratic efforts toward that end will only solidify Republican gains in Congress and weaken President Obama’s re-election chances. For the good of the Union, and in their own best interests, I sincerely hope that more Democratic politicians walk away from gun control for good.

    And I’ve long-since given up trying to classify ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ political leanings by reference to their support for individual liberties like gun ownership. When it comes to the protection of individual liberties, these two terms just don’t mean much.

    Congressional ‘Liberals’ seem to enjoy restricting gun rights, racially-insensitive speech, and violent video games. They’d like to have a lot of control over what you can do with your money, but they generally protect free speech and freedom from search and seizure.

    Congressional ‘Conservatives’ seem to enjoy restricting reproductive decisions, depictions of nekkid people gettin’ it on, and the teaching of actual emprically-based science in public schools. They’d like government to have a lot of power to monitor your communications and search your homes, but they protect your right to own guns and practice your religion.

    • +1 on Lib/Cons argument with the qualification that conservatives like government to have the power to protect your right to practice ‘their’ religion.

      Let’s also not forget that Rep. Giffords was (is) a Glock toting pro-gun Liberal.

  6. Adam Baum in nuts. Gun control works! And I can prove it. Compare cities with reasonable gun laws to those that simply rely on the federal laws. Lets compare Chicago to El Paso, TX. Chicago has the most gun restrictions of any city in America and its murder rate declined in 2010. They only had 435 murders out of a population of 2.8 million people. Chicago does not share a border with another country or even another state but it is really big. El Paso does share a border with another country. It is one foot away from Juarez, Mexico. El Paso is one of the stupid places where most anyone can stick a gun in their pocket and go out in public. You might be at the grocery store and pass buy four or five people who have guns on them in pocket or purse! Regular people without advanced police training. It is fair to say El Paso is one of those places in America where there is no consideration for my right to NOT be around someone’s instrument of death. In 2010 El Paso, with a population of 620,000 lonely, lost souls had five murders.

    Need more proof gun control works? Juarez (the city next to El Paso) is in Mexico which has serious gun control. Juarez only had 3000 murders in 2010.

    What? You want more?? OK. The state of California has dozens of gun control laws. More than any other state. Utah, not so much. Utah is so stupid, they are the only state to allow concealed carry on campus. California has a murder rate of 5.3 compared with Utah’s murder rate of 1.3/100K. Really, really stupid. Obviously we need more and more gun control.

    Sources: Brady Campaign Scorecard, FBI Crime Report 9/13/2010, Population figures from Wikipedia.

  7. In the next election cycle, the demo party should put the Compost’s libtardatorial staff in complete control of campaign strategy, and Mr. Obama should lead the demo party in swearing a blood-oath to adopt the following mantra:
    ( that oughtta shift a few poll numbers for ’em )

  8. Well, you got your tribes, warlords, chieftains, conquerors, dynasties, monarchies, czars, empires, commies, socialists, fascists, dictatorships, marxists, religionists, and a few other various and sundry types of rule…then there’s a Constitutional Republic.
    Best I can tell as an opinionist, there’s certain particular and unique aspects that make a Constitutional Republic what it is, and the further those in positions as officials, authorities, and representatives stray from the basic ideas, ideals, standards, principles and values of a Constitutional Republic form of government, the closer we get to one of those other types.
    We all know the drill. Gov’t by consent of the governed, limited powers afforded to gov’t only by consent, guidelines established for the operation of both state and federal gov’t set forth in constitutional contracts, rule of law in contrast arbitrary rule by whim and edict…& etc.

  9. Underlying a Constitutional Republic form of gov’t are whatcha call philosophical concepts, fairly well put and recently posted on a couple of those other sites, which seem to me anyway, well worth a cut and paste repeat.
    “Morality, Conscience and Rights.
    The word Morality may be defined, in part as, a simple a code of individual conduct.
    Conscience, when correctly applied, serves the individual in some circumstances as a restraint upon certain actions, and in other circumstances as a calling to act.
    The word Rights identifies in part, the natural status of every person.
    From the quality of Conscience, Moral concepts have been derived, and the natural extension of the quality of Conscience as combined with Moral concepts is recognition of the Rights of each individual.
    The Moral code of conduct dictates that each person conduct themselves in such a manner as to avoid intentionally violating the Rights of another person or persons.”

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