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Over at, they’ve posted gun writer Alan Korwin’s article Talking Points for Winning The Gun Magazine Size Debate. While it sounds like a how-to guide for trash talking firearms enthusiasts who favor “happy sticks,” it’s actually a “how to make liberals apoplectic” guide for gun rights guys and gals arguing against legislation aimed at limiting firearms magazines to ten bullets. As with most Korwin productions, it’s a shotgun blast of information looking for a rhetorical choke tube. I count 41 bullet points. As someone who respects puts the First Amendment first, far be it for me to suggest restricting online magazines articles to 10 bullet points. ‘Cause I would argue for a maximum of three. So, with all due respect, here are three facts you need to share with potential or actual supporters of a high cap mag ban . . .

1. It takes a lot of bullets to kill someone

Do you know how many bullets it takes to stop a person from attacking you? No one does, really. It depends on a huge number of variables, including the size of the bullet, how many bullets hit your attacker, where the bullet or bullets hit them, what sort of physical condition they’re in, what sort of drugs they may have taken and more. You can stop someone in their tracks, kill them even, with a single, small bullet. You can fail to slow someone down even after shooting them with seven humongous bullets.

Guns are not death rays. Shooting someone isn’t easy. Even if an attacker stands still, even if you’re not shaking from adrenalin, even if the light’s good, the distance isn’t too great and you don’t have to worry about hitting an innocent bystander, the chances are you’re going to miss. A lot. Studies show that police—trained professionals—hit their target about 30 percent of the time.

Is it possible to try and shoot someone who’s attacking you or your loved ones and miss them ten times? Absolutely. Happens all the time. That’s why thousands of American police officers carry a gun called a Glock 22. It fires a large bullet (called .40 caliber). It holds 15 of them (with an option for 17 rounds). Police officers usually carry two spare holders (called magazines, not “clips”). So the average policeman is carrying 45 large bullets or “rounds.”

That’s a lot of bullets. But then the police have to plan for the worst case scenario. They have to assume that they’re going to miss. A lot. They also have to assume that there’s going to be more than one criminal. If a cop’s firing a gun at three criminals, 45 bullets is 15 bullets per person. Is it possible to shoot at someone 15 times and miss? Happens all the time.

Now they could carry even larger bullets and carry less of them. Or they could carry smaller bullets and carry more. The police have weighed-up the pros and cons (literally) and decided that a 15-round gun with fairly large bullets offers the best possible chances of survival in an armed confrontation.

So if that calculation’s good enough for the police, why isn’t it good enough for law-abiding citizens? Why should we pass a law that says that a law-abiding citizen can’t buy a 15-round gun for self-defense?

Of course, we could flip that around. Why not restrict the number of bullets in a gun to 15 rounds? Remember that the police carry two spare magazines with an additional 15 rounds apiece. So, if you think about it, the police have a 45-round gun.

The key factor: the cops have to pause after the fire the first 15 rounds and swap out magazines. In other words, they have to get rid of the empty magazine and replace it with a “fresh” one with 15 more bullets.

People who want a law limiting magazines to ten bullets argue that this need to swap out magazines is a good thing, not a bad thing. They say spree killer Jared Lee Loughner was only stopped because he was changing-out a 31-round magazine. The pause supposedly saved further loss of life. If he’d been forced to reload his gun sooner, after ten rounds, there would have been less killing.

Maybe so. But there’s never been a single study establishing actual real-world safety benefits (to victims) of attempting to restrict criminals to guns with smaller vs. larger magazines. Not one.

Even if we assume that it’s true, here’s the problem: restricting the number of bullets in any given gun to ten also creates a disadvantage for a law-abiding gun owner trying to save his or her life or the lives of their loved ones from an attacker, maybe even a madman like Loughner.

An earlier pause for reloading—that may have saved lives in Arizona—could also result in the death of a law-abiding gun owner and his or her family, as the gun owner struggles to reload their self-defense firearm while he or she’s under attack. Which reminds me: there’s one thing you need to know about swapping magazines . . .

2. Swapping magazines is a bitch

The plain truth is that swapping magazines is extremely difficult under stress. It requires two hands. You have to eject the empty magazine with a single finger, bring the fresh magazine to the hole where the old magazine was, insert it properly and prepare the gun to fire. There’s lots of ways this can and does go wrong. And it takes time, in a situation where a law-abiding gun owner may not have time.

Or a fresh magazine. Cops carry spare magazines. Most gun owners do not. You can certainly argue that civilians should carry extra bullets. Given the chances that, like the police, they will miss their attacker many times, or have several attackers, it only makes sense to carry “spare” bullets. But they don’t. Perhaps because spare magazines are bulky and heavy. Or perhaps because they know they’re not going to be able to reload under pressure.

In any case, what’s in their gun is what they’re going to use, and nothing more. Which is why some people carry guns with smaller bullets. There’s a popular gun made by Springfield which carries 19 smaller (nine millimeter) bullets. When they carry that gun, most owners feel confident that they won’t have to reload in a life or death situation. They consider that a good thing, not a bad thing. And that’s because . . .

3. You can never have too many bullets

We can spend a lot of time debating how many bullets are too many for any given person, and how many are too few. It’s a pretty complicated business that has a lot to do with personal skills and preferences.

For example, some people prefer a gun with the largest possible bullets—which limits the number they can carry. Some people can’t handle the larger bullet’s recoil (the force on the gun generated by a bullet when fired)—but they don’t want the bulk of a gun that carries a large number of smaller bullets. Some people prefer five or six shot revolvers, which don’t use magazines.

The plain truth is that someone who’s just finished saving their life or the lives of their loves ones with a firearm never looked at their gun (or unused spare magazines) and said, “Darn it! I brought too many bullets!” Generally speaking, if you’re going to use a gun for self-defense, you want as many bullets as possible, with the least amount of hassle re: loading and shooting.

But what about magazines that hold 31 rounds like Loughner’s? Surely that’s just ridiculous. For most people, it is. A 31-round magazine is too large to be practical. But again, cops carry 45 bullets. What’s more, a lot of shooters like high capacity magazines because they can use them to practice on the range without constant reloading.

Besides, there’s a wider point: where do you draw the line? Thirty-one bullets may seem ridiculous, but what about twenty? And if twenty’s OK, why not twenty-one? Twenty-five? Thirty-one?

There are two ways to look at the whole issue of magazine capacity: from a criminal’s point of view or from the perspective of a law-abiding gun owner. But you can’t change the nature of guns for one without changing it for the other. If you restrict magazine capacity to hamstring criminals, you’ll hamstring law-abiding gun owners.

That said, if you make high capacity magazines illegal, you’re not wiping them off the face of the earth. They will still be out there, somewhere. Law-abiding citizens won’t use them; they’re law-abiding. Criminals will; they’re criminals. That doesn’t sound sensible or fair, does it?


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  1. “Maybe so. But there’s never been a single study establishing actual real-world safety benefits (to victims) of attempting to restrict criminals to guns with smaller vs. larger magazines. Not one.”

    Which would matter… if the people proposing magazine bans gave a fig about safety. They don’t. The people who want to ban or limit hi-cap magazines simply hate the idea of private firearms ownership and will use any opportunity they can get to hinder it in any way they can. Logic doesn’t enter into it.

  2. A better reason IMHO not to ban these magazines:

    Tens of millions of Americans will “break the law” if only by inheriting these magazines, or by using them in self defense, or by using them in target practice. We don’t have the prison space to lock up thirty million more people, we don’t have the budget, and it’s impossible to accomplish.

    • Full agreement. It’s ludicrous that someone who is perfectly law abiding with a ten rounder (or less) is suddenly a criminal for having one that holds eleven, or more.

  3. I have an even better reason not to ban these magazines: “Shall Not Be Infringed.”

    Gun-grabbers like to talk up the “hunting” and “sport shooting” and “self-defense” parts of The Second Amendment, despite those things not being the main reason it exists.

  4. To those that rabidly support gun control, guns and they’re accoutrements are just bad. Plain and simple. But the Police can absolutly be trusted with them (strange bedfellows there). No amount of logic or rhetoric or scenario painting will change either of those points.

    Now, there is another group out there (probably the majority) who on the surface don’t give such matters any great thought. They probably hear the TV saying “Nobody NEEDS more than 10 bullets in their clip [sic]!” and that sounds like something that should be true. But then you talk to them and shake them out of their thought coma and dawn breaks; they’ve changed their mind (or rather started using it). Posts like this one CAN sway people, just not those you prefaced RF.

  5. The best argument I’ve heard for not banning hi-cap magazines came from a gun control advocate. Essentially, he pointed out that 11-20 aren’t responsible for any significant portion of murders committed with guns. Rounds 1-10 are the ones to worry about. Therefore, the focus should be on working with gun owners and advocates to find more effective policies/enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, not wasting time bickering about inconsequential things like magazine capacity and the (cosmetic) assault weapons ban.

    Except for novelty purposes, I don’t see the point of 30 round pistol mags or 100 round ammo drums. However, if you fuck with my 17 round 9mm mags or 20/30 mini-14 mags, we are going to have a real problem, and I was a staffer on the Obama campaign.

    • “the focus should be on working with gun owners and advocates to find more effective policies/enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of criminals”

      The problems are (i) gun owners have no reason to believe in the integrity of the anti-gun faction, and (ii) if the criminals were in jail where they belong, we wouldn’t have to worry about them getting their hands on guns. When it’s possible for a law-abiding citizen who isn’t a celebrity to obtain a gun permit in New York City, then we might believe that Mayor Bloomberg is serious about keeping guns from criminals and not banning them altogether. When criminals aren’t coddled by the same people who want to ban guns, then we might believe that dialog is possible. Right now, there’s no way.

    • How about that when a criminal commits a crime purposely, that the criminal receives an automatic death sentence, instead of Liberal schmucks like you wanting them to be confined and rehabilitated? And nobody gives a shit if you support Barry Soetoro, Indonesian citizen.

  6. 10 is arbitrary.

    Why 10? Because it’s the lowest “round” number (no pun intended). Because our number system is base 10? With almost everything today being calculated using a hexadecimal number system, why not 16?

    If 10 is arbitrary, any number can be arbitrary. And any number is.

  7. I think we should wait for Magoo/Mikeb to tell us how we really feel about this subject and how it will affect our fantasy world because we’re all to stupid to make our own choices.

  8. Tyranny is defined as what is illegal for the citizenry, but is legal for the Government. For any law to dictate about how much capacity citizens are allowed to have, versus the Government, then we are living in tyranny and our 2nd Amendment Right is being infringed. States need to re-establish militias and don’t anyone say that is what the National Guard is, cause it is not.

  9. Why is it that Law enforcement has any input about laws being made in regards to my rights as a citizen, don’t we the people get a vote on those matters as well seeing how law enforcement is a small minority? Somehow it is like car insurance I don’t think L/E should even ask or care one way or another as to weather I have it or not, another way for some ass/ wipe rip off insurance company to bilk it’s citizenry out of billions of dollars, having an organization to uphold their agenda on somthing ordinary citizens had no vote on. Criminals don’t give a shit about pesky rules or laws why should anybody else? If they make a 500 round magazine why shouldn’t I be able to own it. Maybe they should not have made the freakin thing in the first place.

  10. People don’t NEED 300 horsepower in their cars. And they don’t NEED more than the number of bedrooms they sleep in. And they certainly don’t NEED all that silverware, and those plates and glasses. And people don’t NEED air conditioning, or heating plants that can warm above 68 degrees.

    We also don’t NEED more than one kind of soap, or breakfast cereal, or milk. And how many shoes can you wear at one time? Or socks? Do we really NEED all these teeth? And one eye is plenty to see with. So when all the one-eyed, toothless, bicycle-riding barefoot sweater-wearers come to me with a petition to reduce the number of cartridges I keep in my magazine – I still won’t listen to them.

    Who cares what a one-eyed, toothless, bicycle-riding barefoot sweater-wearer thinks?

  11. Biggest reason I see not to limit magazine capacity is the following reason. Maryland started with a 20 round magazine capacity limit. (Many would say that this is a reasonable restriction.) In later years Maryland politicians changed the magazine capacity limitation to 10 rounds. Now they are enacting even more laws that restrict the common Maryland citizen’s right to bear arms.

    Do it let them start chipping your liberties away. Eventually they will be gone and it is done one regulation at a time.


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