Large Capacity Magazine Argument

Edited on June 16, 2016 to include the Orlando Nightclub incident findings

This one keeps coming up, over and over again. I have heard it stated a few ways:

  • “Nobody needs 30 round clips [sic].”
  • “Only Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) should have more than 10 round magazines.”
  • “A trained gun owner doesn’t need more than a few rounds to stop an assailant.”
  • “If you can’t kill a home invader with ten shots, you need to go back to the local shooting range.” – Stephen King

Yes, I am paraphrasing a bit here, but the thought process is that somehow somebody can rush an active shooter while they are changing a magazine and stop them . The thought is that somehow that magic number should be 10 rounds because that is what is limited by anti-gun States, today.

The whole concept is pretty ill-conceived.

Summary: Basically, there are a few key points in response to these ridiculous statements:

  • Standard capacity is determined by the manufacturer to identify what is the proper magazine size and it should not be dictated by politicians that do not not understand firearms, at all.
  • 10 rounds is a totally arbitrary number. Why 10? Because it is a round number? Is the thought process that a potential victim that just saw 10 people shot and knows that now is a great time to become a hero and rush the violent assailant even though they have had no training in hand to hand combat? Let me be clear, this has never happened. Nobody has ever successfully rushed an attacker while reloading to defeat the attack. The perfect example is the Orlando shooting in June of 2016. There were hundreds of able-bodied adults, and the attacker had to change his magazines multiple times. Nobody rushed him from behind, from the side, or from the front while he was reloading.
  • Defensive use cases are not all the same and some situations, such as those with multiple assailants in a home invasion, require more ammunition to stop the threat. We should never inhibit the defender that is fighting for their life, and the lives of loved ones, by restricting the number of rounds available to them.
  • We have a long history of seeing trained Police miss the vast majority of their shots.
  • There is also a long history of motivated attackers, or those under the influence of drugs, requiring multiple good hits to stop their attacks.
  • There is NO evidence that more victims are killed because of these standard capacity magazines have been available in the past.
  • There is real value in standard capacity magazines when varmint hunting, in particular, when hunting feral hogs that travel in large groups.

Individual Points

Standard Capacity – First off, it is the standard capacity in most cases. 30 rounds in an AR-15 is the standard capacity design, it is not an extended magazine. The vast majority of magazines made for AR-15s are 30 round magazines. Smaller magazines may be available, but they are far from the standard.

Extended Capacity – If anyone has ever tried to use the 60 round magazines or 100 round drums, they know that they are incredibly unreliable. They constantly fail to feed properly and cause malfunctions. The Colorado Theater shooting is the perfect example of this. The assailant, in this case, experience multiple jams when using an extended capacity magazine. I would not say this is necessarily an argument for their being banned, but just pointing out that these extended capacity magazines are not reliable and would not be something that I would ever recommend for a self-defense scenario.

Magazine Changes – It is clear, to those involved in firearms, that changing out an magazine is incredibly easy and can be done in less than half of a second. Here is a great demonstration of magazine changes. Magazine changes do not impact assailants.

    • Klebold used several magazines in the Columbine attack. He simply changed magazines as needed and was still able to get off 96 rounds.
    • Cho used nothing but 10 and 15 round magazines in the Virginia Tech shooting,

Both cases show that lower capacity magazines do not stop, or even slow down, assailants. Also, we need to be realistic in that very few people are trained well enough in hand to hand combat to have the skills needed to “rush” an assailant in the middle of a magazine change, and there are even fewer that have the “hero” in them to do it. Again, the Orlando Nightclub attack verifies this.

Defense vs. Assault – This is the key point. Assailants get to choose when they get to swap out magazines, defenders do not. The person that is defending against multiple assailants in a home invasion, for example, does not have the opportunity to do reloads, in most cases. Assailants can choose to pause their assault, and even select a covered position, so they can reload. Defenders don’t have the ability to halt action for a reload without exposing themselves and those around them to great risks.

It is also very important to note that the defender is undergoing a tremendous adrenaline surge that is having a huge impact on their ability to aim well, and the defender may need an unknown number of rounds to defend themselves and those around them. In fact, Police officers miss 75-80% of their shots in similar situations and they have lots of training.

Basically, anti-gunners are saying that the defender must be able to combat multiple attackers (and yes, evil doers travel in groups, especially in mob riot scenarios) and be incredibly efficient with their shooting to defend themselves and those that they love. How tragic would it be if the mother defending herself and her children is not able to do it within the arbitrarily constrained number of rounds as the attackers break down the door and kill the family as part of their armed robbery? Sorry, you lost your life and the lives of your family members because some ignorant legislator limited you to 10 rounds when the standard capacity in your handgun would normally be 17. Yep, let’s limit the ability of law abiding citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones against the evil in the world.

Historical Findings – It is clear from the history of assailants and defenders that:

  • People miss when under stress, and getting good hits to stop an assailant will require many shots in most cases. Again, we can point to Police as the perfect example. Police miss the vast majority of their shots.
  • Assailants often require multiple bullets to stop them. Whether it is the influence of drugs or that they are just really dedicated and their mind set is different, it is clear that most assailants require multiple hits to stop their attacks.

Lack of Real World Impact – There is upcoming research that shows that even when assailants have used standard capacity magazines, their use was not a deciding factor in the number of victims. Gary Kleck is working on a paper on this topic. I will provide details once it is published. However, in cases where standard capacity magazines were used, the assailants had multiple magazines or guns at their disposal and the number of victims was not determined or limited by the magazine capacity.

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2 Responses to Large Capacity Magazine Argument

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