The problem with arbitrary limits on magazine capacity


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Derek Zeanah
December 24, 2012, 01:53 PM
I keep hearing about limits on magazines, like banning magazines with capacity > 10 rounds. Some argue this is a reasonable restriction on firearms that will help prevent tragedies like happened recently.

My problem is with the argument itself: "why do you need more than 10 rounds on a magazine?"

The problem is this: the same argument can be created for any magazine capacity?
Why do you need more than 9 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 8 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 7 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 6 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 5 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 4 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 3 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 2 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 1 round in a magazine?Where is the limit?

I think we should reframe this argument. When disaster strikes, we call 911 because we need a man with a gun on-site to solve the problem ASAP. How many rounds does he carry? Probably 13+ on his belt, with 2 reloads, and an AR in the cruiser with 30 rounds in its magazine and another reload somewhere.

How many do SWAT types carry? 30.

How many do National Guard troops carry? 30 in the weapon, then another 180 on their person (assuming they're carrying the way I did a couple of decades ago)?

Why do they carry that many? Because when the worst happens, there's no such thing as "too much ammo."

Any restrictions put on civilian ownership of weapons and magazines should also be put on law enforcement and national guard when they deploy within the United States. If we're not willing to limit those folks, who deal with the same threats we normal folks might confront, then it's unreasonable to put those same restrictions on us.

"If the man I call to deal with my home being invaded thinks he needs 17 rounds in his Glock to deal with the home invasion, then I need no less than that as I'll have to fend for myself to protect my family until he arrives."

thoughts?

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Hillbillyz
December 24, 2012, 02:03 PM
You make a lot of sense. You will need to counter the treat with an abundance of force. If the threat has a knife you have a bigger knife, or a gun. If the threat is armed with a gun, you have enough ammunition so you can out last the threat.

308win
December 24, 2012, 02:05 PM
Incrementalism is the strategy the gun control side knows is their best chance of attaining their ultimate goal. Magazine capacity policies, ammunition market manipulation, etc. are all steps in their journey. We will either win or Second Amendment rights willl suffer the death of a few dozen cuts. IMHO The politicians who won't protect our rights will justify their abandonment by rationalizing that the small cuts they approve aren't really hurting anything.

Hacker15E
December 24, 2012, 02:29 PM
Guys like this want to limit the max capacity to six.

http://voices.kansascity.com/entries/its-guns-stupid/

But it’s the guns, stupid.

Banning assault weapons - all of them - will help.

Banning the production of anything that allows a person to shoot more than six bullets will help.

Banning all gun shows will help.

Taking steps to buy back guns, to confiscate illegal ones from the homes of Americans, to putting people in prison for disobeying gun laws - all of those would help control gun violence in America.

I bet he doesn't even know where the six number comes from, either -- a throwback to when the police were mostly armed with sixguns, and a desire for the police to not be "outgunned".

I have actually seen this asinine "outgunned" argument thrown around this latest iteration, too -- unfortunately, the police are rolling around with 5.56 ARs and 30-round mags.

Skribs
December 24, 2012, 02:35 PM
The other issue is that reduced capacity magazines only affect the unprepared. It does not take much time off from shooting to reload.

So your average homeowner in a SD situation probably has one mag in the gun, maybe one spare. This would reduce him from 30-60 rounds to 10-20. Your average shooter goes in with a backpack full of loaded mags...a limit won't change that fact. He may carry slightly less ammo because of the overall bulk, but that's not going to be a huge factor.

This is of course assuming someone willing to commit mass murder follows the gun law.

JVaughn
December 24, 2012, 02:51 PM
Clearly, this is absolutely correct. The only reason a government would want to limit a civilian's firepower is because those civilians may one day turn arms against them.

yokel
December 24, 2012, 02:53 PM
I've never believed the opposition when they claim they're only interested in just one more "sensible" or "reasonable" gun-control law. They ultimately want a total ban on weapons and only make incremental claims to disguise their real aims.

The unfortunate truth is that our obstinate opponents detest the Second Amendment, and detest the people who seek to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment.

larryh1108
December 24, 2012, 03:06 PM
If "they" wish to limit the capacity of magazines all we have to do is look at the recent capacity ban and use the results of that to see if it's feasible. Now, I do not have the statistics from the previous hi cap ban but I believe that it proved that the ban made no difference what-so-ever and the ban expired.

So what are they trying to gain by doing it again when past practice showed it was ineffective? All it sounds like is a foot in the door for further bans and restrictions, an inch at a time. Otherwise, it has no sound reasoning with a track record to prove it.

Baba Louie
December 24, 2012, 03:19 PM
As members of the unorganized militia... 10 USC Chapt 311, one would think being prepared would be a requirement. But then again I suppose the CinC can set limits on what the never to be called forth unorganized militia should have and hold.

gc70
December 25, 2012, 02:40 AM
The number 10 does seem arbitrary, but I suspect it may have arisen from the more common magazine capacities of .22 pistols and rifles circa 1994. Trying to institute a ban that encompassed a bunch of .22 caliber firearms would have exposed the effort to far too much justifiable ridicule.

The stated rationale for limiting magazine capacity is that it would force a shooter to pause to change magazines, giving people a respite in which to escape or rush and overpower a shooter.

Mother Jones recently published A Guide to Mass Shootings in America (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map?page=2) listing 62 incidents that resulted in 4 or more victim deaths during the 31 years from 1982 to 2012, inclusive. The list shows the number of people killed OR injured per incident. The following is a breakdown of number of victims (excluding the shooters) by number of incidents; the table effectively reflects the minimum number of rounds the shooter could have fired to produce the injuries or deaths at a rate of one per round fired.

victims - incidents
00-10 = 33
11-20 = 16
21-30 = 6
31-40 = 3
41-50 = 2
51-60 = 1
61-70 = 1

Using one gun with 10-round magazines, 33 incidents (53%) would not have required a magazine change, 16 incidents (26%) would have only required one magazine change, and only 13 incidents (21%) would have required more than one magazine change.

Most shooters in mass shootings use more than one gun. Using two guns with 10-round magazines, only 13 incidents (21%) would have required a magazine change.

All of the above dry numbers only show that introducing magazine changes into mass shootings by limiting magazine capacity would do very little to even provide an opportunity to escape or rush and overpower a shooter, much less assuring the success of those actions. However, that small potential change in an already very rare type of event is the supposed rationale for imposing magazine limits on millions of guns owners and reducing their capacity for self defense.

Oh, and people supposedly do not need more than 10 rounds in a magazine.

ADDED:

The Mother Jones list totals 927 killed OR injured (excluding shooters) over 31 years - or slightly less than 30 per year. The government would not even notice a 1 in 10 million risk involving anything other than guns. But we already knew the gun control initiatives were about optics and emotion rather than good governance.

HEAVY METAL 1
December 25, 2012, 03:07 AM
"I've never believed the opposition when they claim they're only interested in just one more "sensible" or "reasonable" gun-control law. They ultimately want a total ban on weapons and only make incremental claims to disguise their real aims.

The unfortunate truth is that our obstinate opponents detest the Second Amendment, and detest the people who seek to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment."

Absolutely spot on.

They always say they want "to compromise", but how come all the concessions need to come from our side? I would be willing to make this compromise: I would agree to background checks at gunshows IF AND ONLY IF there is corresponding legislation that allows concealed carry everywhere(full 50 state reciprocity), no waiting periods, no magazine restrictions, no AWB, no other gun or gun related restrictions of any sort from now into perpetuity. (Preserve current restrictions on the mentally ill, felons)

gbw
December 25, 2012, 03:09 AM
All of the above dry numbers only show that introducing magazine changes into mass shootings by limiting magazine capacity would do very little to even provide an opportunity to escape or rush and overpower a shooter, much less assuring the success of those actions.... imposing magazine limits on millions of guns owners and reducing their capacity for self defense.

OK, this data is being used cited to 'show' that limiting magazine capacity doesn't matter much in the death/injured toll in mass shootings.

Then why are they any more valuable in an HD or SD situation, as is claimed in the next sentenarece? Can't have it both ways.

The second question, to be objective:

In how many civilian HD or SD situations were 10 or more shots fired, both raw and as a percentage of all such incidents? I've never heard of one, but perhaps I've missed them.

I don't know if limiting mag size would matter or not. It certainly wouldn't unless it were nationwide and retroactive, and even then I'm not sure.

But so far none of the practical arguments I've seen for keeping hi-caps stand up too well. When criminals have them they are worthless, when we good guys have them they are invaluable? Seems we just want them 'cause we (me too) like them.

The incrementalism argument has merit. But that has to stop at 8, which is the largest common revolver cylinder I know of. Lower than that and they are talking about banning all repeating arms, a very different proposition, one which I don't doubt many of them are working toward.

velojym
December 25, 2012, 03:13 AM
Hmm... I didn't see a number in that chart high enough to represent Waco. Oh, wait... that massacre was *legal*.

Isaac-1
December 25, 2012, 03:49 AM
If I remember correctly the 10 round limit came from demonizing double stack magazines in hand guns, leaving 10 rounds being the general limit on many single stack models. (Colt 1911, etc.)

gc70
December 25, 2012, 04:22 AM
OK, this data is being used cited to 'show' that limiting magazine capacity doesn't matter much in the death/injured toll in mass shootings.

Then why are they any more valuable in an HD or SD situation, as is claimed in the next sentenarece? Can't have it both ways.

Valid questions.

A 10-round magazine limit would effectively express a government policy that it is an acceptable societal risk for up to 10 people to be killed or injured in a single shooting incident before there is a break in the shooting for other (presumably unarmed) potential victims to escape or defend themselves. Considering the actual prevalence of multiple guns in mass shootings, the risk accepted by society bumps up to at least 20. However, the number of incidents exceeding 20 (or even 10) deaths or injuries is infinitesimally small, so the additional societal risk is meaningless in a country with a population exceeding 310 million. (Sorry to have to present this as just a matter of statistics and probabilities.)

Regardless of the probabilities of how few or how many bullets a person might need in a self defense situation, the result is binary with respect to an individual - you live or you die. An individual would want even the most ridiculously remote possible advantage in a self defense situation.

I am not aware of any data on the number of shots fired in civilian HD or SD situations.

beatledog7
December 25, 2012, 08:19 AM
Those who push for "reasonable" restrictions on anything invariably also insist on defining "reasonable."

The antis aren't interested in reasonable anything; they want a full firearms ban and have learned to incrementalize their agenda because the sheeple will readily tolerate the loss of freedom that way.

Taurus 617 CCW
December 25, 2012, 11:30 AM
Like many other things, give them an inch, they take a mile. Never stop fighting!

mberoose
December 25, 2012, 11:39 AM
How deep does the rabbit hole go....

...the question I always ask.

JBrady555
December 25, 2012, 01:19 PM
I keep hearing about limits on magazines, like banning magazines with capacity > 10 rounds. Some argue this is a reasonable restriction on firearms that will help prevent tragedies like happened recently.

My problem is with the argument itself: "why do you need more than 10 rounds on a magazine?"

The problem is this: the same argument can be created for any magazine capacity?
Why do you need more than 9 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 8 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 7 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 6 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 5 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 4 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 3 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 2 rounds in a magazine?
Why do you need more than 1 round in a magazine?Where is the limit?

I think we should reframe this argument. When disaster strikes, we call 911 because we need a man with a gun on-site to solve the problem ASAP. How many rounds does he carry? Probably 13+ on his belt, with 2 reloads, and an AR in the cruiser with 30 rounds in its magazine and another reload somewhere.

How many do SWAT types carry? 30.

How many do National Guard troops carry? 30 in the weapon, then another 180 on their person (assuming they're carrying the way I did a couple of decades ago)?

Why do they carry that many? Because when the worst happens, there's no such thing as "too much ammo."

Any restrictions put on civilian ownership of weapons and magazines should also be put on law enforcement and national guard when they deploy within the United States. If we're not willing to limit those folks, who deal with the same threats we normal folks might confront, then it's unreasonable to put those same restrictions on us.

"If the man I call to deal with my home being invaded thinks he needs 17 rounds in his Glock to deal with the home invasion, then I need no less than that as I'll have to fend for myself to protect my family until he arrives."

thoughts?
This is a really nice piece that you wrote. It gives me the "ammo" I need, no pun intended, to debate local anti's on mag capacity. Thank you.

Sheepdog1968
December 25, 2012, 01:50 PM
I took a training class this past Nov. The instructor half jokingly half seriously said something to the effect of "the way things are going we may have nothing but six shot revolvers."

evolve23
December 25, 2012, 02:11 PM
Why do people still argue themes like "slippery slope", etc? Don't you understand by now that the gungrabbers are acting out of fear and a psychopathic need to control and restrict freedom rather than acting out of logical reasoning?

Why try to reason with these people? Why do people in RKBA'ers and 2A'ers continue to compromise by even engaging in red herring arguments such as the validity of a "normal" capacity magazine?

Let's stop compromising. Let's start talking about why many of us own these guns and the actual reason for the 2A. Protection from tyranny.

gbran
December 25, 2012, 02:32 PM
If we had an absolute ban on 10+ round mags, there are still probably over a hundred million in existence and even if we could magically remove them all, most people would be amazed at how easy it is to fabricate magazines.

The FBI defines mass murder as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders. We had six such events in 2012. That means that out of a population of nearly 313 million, just six people chose to become mass murderers (with guns). This is the proverbial spec on the end of the needle in the largest haystack you've ever seen.

As horrific as these events are, I don't like foisting new laws, regulations or policies on 313 million other citizens in the false hope we can affect the behavior of six madmen.

texasgun
December 25, 2012, 03:24 PM
the problem with a 10rd magazine ban is that it won't lower the occurrence of mass shootings and is a very ineffective measure.... yet, after the next tragedy the gun control folks with come out and say: "we need to ban 10rd magazines! no one should have more than 6 rounds! a revolver only holds 6 rounds"

and then ... you are looking at a 6 round limit. from there on you will slowly end up with a 2 round limit because - a double barrel shotgun is all you need and you don't need more than 2 rounds for duck-hunting....

when someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night... I'm most likely a pretty bad shot... even with light and laser a good amount of the bullets will miss. Having only 10rds is not great. Having only 6rds is really bad.... There's a good reason my Glock 21 (13 rounds) is my nightstand gun and not my Wilson 1911.... nearly double capacity.

gbran
December 25, 2012, 03:32 PM
More likely, they will propose banning all semi-auto firearms. It's already being suggested.

Ric
December 26, 2012, 05:08 PM
We are missing a point here
If I am limited to a 10 round magazine then do we limit the number of magazines you can have?
Do we have to limit the magazine carriers so you can only reload once?
Do we needs background check so that we can only have x amount of 10 round magazines?

The only new thing I have been hearing this time is the "compulsory gun buy back" way of confiscating guns.
Soon we will hear how you will be "duly compensated" for you guns

JustinJ
December 26, 2012, 05:33 PM
While i don't favor a mag capacity limit i don't think it valid to compare the needs of a home defender with those of a cop, SWAT member, and especially not a soldier.

They carry that many because they seek out and pursue criminals or enemies. The rest of us don't. The only exception i can think of is those acting as security in places prone to attempted robbery by multiple sophisticated criminals, such as jewelry stores or banks. Long protracted gun fights against home intruders just don't happen as bad guys generally don't want to get shot but do want to get away rather than waste time waiting for the police to arrive.

gc70
December 26, 2012, 07:01 PM
There are two problems with your conclusions, JustinJ.

Soldiers and SWAT members are nearly invariably part of a group that can provide supporting fire. The situation for the average police officer and the rest of us is more similar - surviving until a situation is resolved or until help arrives.

Criminals are not all rational. Very few of us have anything worth enough to induce a rational criminal to engage in a prolonged firefight. But the irrational, drugged, or crazy criminal may not be in the least dissuaded by a prolonged firefight.

texasgun
December 26, 2012, 07:07 PM
@GC70

I agree with your post - you certainly don't need a 100rd drum magazine under your AR-15 to fend off a home invasion... that being said: 10rds is not sufficient. 10rds is way below a standard capacity mag for most pistols and most "ordinary" cops carry more than 10rds. If you have a home invasion with two BGs ... 10rds will be challenging. Remember: in the middle of the night, pumped with adrenalin and panic... you are in your worst shape. I think I would be happy if 20-30% of my shots would hit the (most likely) moving target....

JustinJ
December 26, 2012, 07:09 PM
gc70, can you cite a few, if any, situations in which home defenders have engaged in long gun fights that required more than 10 rounds?

The cop waiting doing so is waiting for help to arrive to assist in apprehending the criminal. Not in preventing him from escaping. Its apples to oranges.

JN01
December 26, 2012, 09:37 PM
It might be handy to have more than ten rounds on tap in the event of a widespread societal breakdown (LA riots) or natural disaster (Katrina).

Aside from saying "you don't need one", I have yet to hear any explanation as to how, exactly, a magazine ban will have any impact on mass shootings.

gc70
December 27, 2012, 06:43 AM
JustinJ, someone summarized (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=328876) five years of the Armed Citizen column of self defense shootings from one of the NRA magazines - the largest reported number of rounds fired was 20 and the largest reported number of assailants was 7.

I frankly do not understand the comment about LEOs apprehending criminals, not preventing escape. Neither LEOs or citizens shoot to prevent criminals from escaping. Lone officers and citizens face the same issue of stopping threats or defending against attacks until help can arrive.

bikerdoc
December 27, 2012, 08:21 AM
Aside from saying "you don't need one", I have yet to hear any explanation as to how, exactly, a magazine ban will have any impact on mass shootings.

There it is.

Root cause analysis would point toward mental illness. But it is easier to blame the tool.
Tools dont vote, defectives and their families do.

JustinJ
December 27, 2012, 10:54 AM
JustinJ, someone summarized five years of the Armed Citizen column of self defense shootings from one of the NRA magazines - the largest reported number of rounds fired was 20 and the largest reported number of assailants was 7.

Its an interesting read but even in the scenario mentioned with seven assailants the defender used a shotgun which almost certainly had less than a 10 round capacity. Also, the summary states that the average and median shots fired were 2 however when more than two were fired "it generally appeared that the defender's initial response was to fire until empty" which to me indicates panic fire rather than necessity of additional rounds.

Also, the summary included businesses. As i mentioned earlier some businesses could have a realistic threat of being attacked by a larger group of more sophisticated criminals. Even that is rare but there was a story some time back about a jewelry store owner who did get in a relatively long firefight against multiple assailants in which many rounds were fired.

I frankly do not understand the comment about LEOs apprehending criminals, not preventing escape. Neither LEOs or citizens shoot to prevent criminals from escaping. Lone officers and citizens face the same issue of stopping threats or defending against attacks until help can arrive.

I do not mean to imply that police shoot as the means of apprehension. Rather, while acting in their duty to apprehend a criminal they often will continue pursuit even if fired upon and use lethal force in response. The LA bank robbers, for example, is a scenario in which police were required to fire many rounds while trying to prevent the criminals from escaping. A civilian would obviously not engage in such activity.

JFrame
December 27, 2012, 12:02 PM
It has been discussed in the past, and it's all water over the dam now, but I believe it was Bill Ruger who actually introduced the idea of limiting magazine capacity into the national consciousness. In 1989, with the talk of an AWB in prominence, he wrote the following to every member of Congress:

"The best way to address the firepower concern is therefore not to try to outlaw or license many millions of older and perfectly legitimate firearms (which would be a licensing effort of staggering proportions) but to prohibit the possession of high capacity magazines. By a simple, complete and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining 'assault rifle' and 'semi-automatic rifles' is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item. A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could effectively implement these objectives."

William B. Ruger

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_B._Ruger#Controversy

What's interesting is that Mr. Ruger's suggestion was for a 15-round magazine limit. But Congress ran with that idea, and decided that if a 15-round limit was good, a 10-round limit would be even better!

Perhaps Mr. Ruger's innocent intention was to mitigate the impact of a more draconian AWB. Or perhaps, as some people have suggested, he had a much more devious and mercenary intention of crippling the competition because, at the time, his Mini-14s came with 15-round mags, while other manufacturers of semiauto centerfire rifles had higher capacities. (This is my best understanding of the situation -- if I am wrong in this regard, I will be happy to be educated.)

But the one thing we can absolutely see from even this little anecdote is that if the firearm-owning community gives the proverbial inch, the politicians will want to take a mile.


.

Trent
December 27, 2012, 01:54 PM
Why 10?

Anti-gunners want to limit magazines to 10 rounds because they can't count higher than that on both hands.

Duhdumdumdum...

I'll be here all day folks.

JFrame
December 27, 2012, 04:07 PM
Why 10?

Anti-gunners want to limit magazines to 10 rounds because they can't count higher than that on both hands.

Duhdumdumdum...

I'll be here all day folks.


http://www.kolobok.us/smiles/artists/just_cuz/JC_rimshot.gif


.

Skribs
December 27, 2012, 04:26 PM
JustinJ, if I'm being attacked and I'm at the point where I'm going to fire, I'm not going to go BAM-evaluate-BAM-evaluate. I'm going to send a few bullets downrange and then check to see if the target has stopped. If there are multiple assailants in close quarters, I'm going to be transitioning ASAP to hopefully put them down.

Someone in the handgun forum posted a while back a list of hit probability, number of shooters, and number of hits needed to stop the target, setting an arbitrary list of "with X rounds, Y attackers, Z number of shots needed to put the target down, and A hit %" what your probablity is of stopping the targets with that number of rounds. With 2 determined attackers, needing 2 hits on each of them, and 30% hit rate, the chances of success are really low until you start getting into the 12+ round range.

How accurate you are under fire and how the BGs react will affect this number, but in a worst case scenario you may very well want more than 10 rounds on tap. The problem is most people only carry up to 1 spare magazine, or just have whatever's in the gun loaded at home. BGs, on the other hand, can bring spare mags and ammunition to a planned attack.

I'll also point out the universal reality that you are paranoid until it happens, at which point you are prepared. If you get attacked and only shoot 3 of your 17 rounds, you were paranoid for carrying more than 4 rounds. If you shoot 5 rounds out of your J-frame and one attacker is still up, you might just realize how un-paranoid the guy who told you "you should switch to K-frame" was.

Regardless, how much ammo I think I need should be determined by me alone, and influenced by those in my life. It should not be mandated by the government.

gc70
December 27, 2012, 04:54 PM
Why are we debating how much of a right we need when our opponents ultimately do not want us to have any at all?

nazshooter
December 27, 2012, 05:36 PM
GC70: Thanks for providing the MJ link. While their commentary is obviously biased I've found that their actual data tends to be useful, even to those of us who disagree with them.

What I'd really like to find is a source for Larry Correia's claim that mass shootings stopped by police result, on average, in 14 people shot while those stopped by civilians result in 2.5 victims.

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