In Defense of High-Capacity Magazines

A bit of further context for the ongoing debate on gun control, specifically over high-capacity magazines.

Here’s Joe Biden, per a January Huffington Post story:

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he is “much less concerned” with the dangers posed by assault weapons than he is about high-capacity gun magazines, possibly offering an early window into the Obama administration’s priorities in the upcoming gun control debate on Capitol Hill.

“More people out there get shot with a Glock that has cartridges in a [high-capacity magazines],” said Biden, chair of a White House task force to develop violence prevention proposals, during an online Google+ chat.

“I’m much less concerned, quite frankly, with what you’d call an ‘assault weapon’ than I am with magazines, and the number of rounds that can be held in a magazine.”

And here’s my colleague at the Center for Individual Freedom, Timothy H. Lee, in his newest column:

Here’s a statistic likely to surprise most Americans: Police officers’ hit ratio, meaning the percentage of shots fired that meet the intended target, is approximately 20%. 

In other words, even those whose very profession demands accuracy and constant preparation only hit 1 out of 5 shots when the situation requires it. Some 80% of shots thus miss their target. 

A 2010 NYPD estimate is even lower, suggesting a hit ratio of just 11% to 17%.

… Police repeatedly undergo training so that firing situations will be less disorienting and chaotic. Average members of the public, however, suddenly awakened by middle-of-the-night violent aggressors, do not. Accordingly, a higher-capacity magazine may prove the difference between life and death for themselves and their families.  That is particularly true when multiple attackers are involved. 

Defensive use of firearms by law-abiding citizens in America occurs far more often than highly-publicized mass murders by deranged gunmen, and such magazines naturally increase the effectiveness in such scenarios.

Now, ask yourself who’s more likely to have an extra magazine on hand and the presence of mind to quickly reload: the assailant or the victim?

  1. Randy Weivoda

    Now that I think about it for a minute, there are a lot of things the left thinks are overly high-capacity and should be banned.  Toilet tanks, soft drink cups (in NYC), vehicles (nobody needs something as big as a Suburban).  The rich have bank accounts that are too large and some families are way too large. 

  2. Cutlass
    Randy Weivoda: Now that I think about it for a minute, there are a lot of things the left thinks are overly high-capacity and should be banned.  Toilet tanks, soft drink cups (in NYC), vehicles (nobody needs something as big as a Suburban).  The rich have bank accounts that are too large and some families are way too large.

    Good point.

    They also believe there are too many competing opinions, too much economic competition, too much religion, too many people…

    The only things leftists believe we need more of are drugs, porn and government.

  3. Elizabeth Van Horn

    Good post Troy. 

    Here’s an excellent resource that shows how the term “assault” weapon evolved:

    http://www.assaultweapon.info/

    Pay particular attention to the section where it discusses magazine capacity.  In the 1999 Columbine shooting, Eric Harris knew that his magazine only fired 10 rounds.  So, Harris took 13 magazines with him, firing 96 rounds. 

    (Survivors in the library that day, reported that they could hear the pause, when the shooters switched magazines.   That pause, of course, was an opportunity for someone to shoot Harris,  if anyone else had been armed.)

    2007 Virgina Tech shooter, Cho knew the capacity limit of the handgun magazines.  So, he took two handguns, 19 magazines and fired 170 rounds.

    Limiting magazine capacity will not stop bad guys.  But, it will hinder the rest of us.

  4. Ragnar Danneskjöld

    I’d be interested to see where and when the term “high-capacity mag” originated. A military/police issue M9 Beretta has a 15-round clip and somehow in the civilian world this constitutes a high-capacity magazine. 

    Great stats by the way. It’s hard enough as it to hit a stationary target with a hand gun and bad guys tend to not be stationary. 

  5. Ragnar Danneskjöld

    And while we’re working on gun control, we should probably also ban Russian made man-portable Surface-to-Air missiles. If we close that loophole we can prevent the next Christopher Dorner from getting his hands on one.

  6. Duane Oyen

    But, Joe, don’t you fed gubmint types need those high capacity magazines in order to fire all the billions of bullets you’ve been buying, causing empty shelves at every store? 

    1.6 billion bullets for the DHS, at 10 per magazine, requires 160 million magazines…

  7. Jeff

    Good point. I think most people believe that police use deadly force under a different law than the rest of us. That’s not true.

    Police can use deadly force in exactly the same situations as civilians. Therefore, if police need high capacity magazines, so do the rest of us.

  8. Eeyore

    Now, ask yourself who’s more likely to have an extra clip on hand and the presence of mind to quickly reload: the assailant or the victim?

    Punctiliousness alert!

    Unless you have something like an M1 Garand, it’s unlikely you’ll have any ”clips,” extra or not.  Assailant or victim, you’ll have magazines

    m1_garand_clip_11.jpg<–Clip

    (And I certainly hope you don’t have any       “assault magazines“)

  9. John Walker

    They are talking about restricting the manufacture, sales, and possession of boxes with springs in them.

    Think about that.

    How dumb do you need to be to contemplate that?

  10. Eeyore
    John Walker:

    How dumb do you need to be to contemplate that?

    nancy-pelosi.jpgMmmm, ’bout this dumb…

  11. La Dernière Lettre

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeQiVBvy0m0&feature=share

    Here is one man’s opinion.  Maybe Biden should speak to him?

  12. Pseudodionysius

    “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to shoot you.”

  13. Mothership_Greg
    John Walker: They are talking about restricting the manufacture, sales, and possession of boxes with springs in them.

    Think about that.

    How dumb do you need to be to contemplate that? · 13 hours ago

    Wait, I was told these potential restrictions are “common sense”.  Have I been misled????

  14. Spin

    MG, by common sense, they mean “a common sense”, that is, something you smell commonly. That is to say, bulls–t.

  15. Spin

    Aren’t all of the arguments by liberals regarding gun control just so much monkey business. They are in possession of the same facts as we are. They know that killings are done with all manner of firearms. Shotguns, revolvers, assault rifles, weapons that look like assault rifles, pistols with large magazines, pistols with small magazines. They know that to end gun violence, you have to end guns. We know that too. Where we differ is in what that will accomplish. Ending guns won’t end violence. So any argument for gun control by a liberal that isn’t advocating the complete elimination of all guns is just them blowing smoke.

  16. Troy Senik, Ed.
    Eeyore

    Now, ask yourself who’s more likely to have an extra clip on hand and the presence of mind to quickly reload: the assailant or the victim?

    Punctiliousness alert!

    Unless you have something like an M1 Garand, it’s unlikely you’ll haveany ”clips,” extra or not.  Assailant or victim, you’ll havemagazines. 

    <–Clip

    (And I certainlyhope you don’t have any       “assault magazines“) · 18 hours ago

    Entirely correct and changed to reflect that fact. Draw whatever conclusions you like about what I have in my nightstand.

  17. Tom Lindholtz

    I read the title and I thought this was going to be about National Geographic or Smithsonian.

  18. Eric Hines

    …even those whose very profession demands accuracy and constant preparation only hit 1 out of 5 shots when the situation requires it.

    A couple of comments on this.  My first time qualifying with a pistol in the USAF (also the first time I’d ever fired a pistol), I qualified Expert with a score of 101 out of a possible 100.  The shooter on my right on the range was consistently wild left.  It’s not hard to fill a square on weapons firing while not taking the session seriously.

    The other thing is that training/qualifying on a sterile range against paper targets is not at all the same as a live fire-fight with the targets both moving and shooting back.

    As my self defense instructor kept hammering about his demand for constant drill, “We’re all on the same side in class.  In a street fight, under that stress, the best you can hope for is to do 70% as well as you show in this class.”

    There are very few firearms training programs that really try to simulate the stress of a live fight in training.  The FBI and military SOF are about it.

    Eric Hines

  19. Randy Weivoda

    I wonder if Joe Biden forbids his secret service bodyguards from using “high-capacity” magazines.  After all, we’re told that only homicidal maniacs would have use for a magazine that holds more than ten rounds. 

  20. Eric Hines

    On the matter of “high capacity” magazines, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to conclude that the general public–at least those of us who own firearms–in fact have multiple magazines for each weapon.

    There’s also the misconception of what constitutes high capacity.  A typical semiautomatic rifle–a Sig556, for instance, which is modeled on the military’s rifle with its 30-round magazine–comes with 30-round magazines standard.  A 10-round magazine isn’t “high capacity,” and limiting that further by government diktat is just stupid.

    We’ve also already addressed, in another thread, why a private citizen needs a “high capacity” magazine, for rifle or pistol; I won’t go into that here.

    Eric Hines