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The problem with arbitrary limits on magazine capacity

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Derek Zeanah, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    Statesboro, GA
    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."

  2. Hillbillyz

    Hillbillyz New Member

    May 30, 2009
    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.
  3. 308win

    308win Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    Ohio - The Heart of it All
    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.
  4. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Participating Member

    Jul 1, 2005
    Guys like this want to limit the max capacity to six.


    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.
  5. Skribs

    Skribs Mentor

    Oct 29, 2010
    Lakewood, Washington
    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.
  6. JVaughn

    JVaughn Member

    Dec 28, 2010
    Northeast TN
    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.
  7. yokel

    yokel Participating Member

    Apr 29, 2007
    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.
  8. larryh1108

    larryh1108 Senior Member

    Aug 29, 2008
    ex-IL, ex-CT, now NC
    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.
  9. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    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.
  10. gc70

    gc70 Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2004
    North Carolina
    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 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.


    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.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012

    HEAVY METAL 1 Member

    Jan 18, 2005
    "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)
  12. gbw

    gbw Active Member

    Feb 11, 2009
    Deep South
    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.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  13. velojym

    velojym Active Member

    Apr 9, 2006
    Hmm... I didn't see a number in that chart high enough to represent Waco. Oh, wait... that massacre was *legal*.
  14. Isaac-1

    Isaac-1 Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    SW Louisiana, not near N.O.
    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.)
  15. gc70

    gc70 Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2004
    North Carolina
    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.
  16. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Mentor

    Jun 18, 2011
    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.
  17. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Participating Member

    May 25, 2003
    Northern Idaho
    Like many other things, give them an inch, they take a mile. Never stop fighting!
  18. mberoose

    mberoose Member

    Feb 5, 2012
    How deep does the rabbit hole go....

    ...the question I always ask.
  19. JBrady555

    JBrady555 Active Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    Panama City, FL
    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.
  20. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Senior Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    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."

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