By Edward Ingold -
The President is anxious to pass something, anything, that will impinge on citizens' right to keep and bear arms. He might not achieve a new "Assault Weapons Ban," but he may apply a full court press to pass a ban on "High Capacity" magazines. After all, why would anyone need a 30 round magazine?
Why indeed? Use of rifles of any sort, is uncommon for self defense, but nearly all handguns used in this role are semi-automatic, where one bullet is fired each pull of the trigger. Revolvers do the same thing, but use the mechanical force of the trigger, rather than recoil energy, to fire each round. In skilled hands, a revolver actually shoots faster than a semi-automatic, and can be reloaded as quickly. The world speed record for shooting is held by revolver expert, Jerry Mikulek. The original version of the National Firearms Act (1934) tried to ban revolvers too, and they would be the next target of the current Administration.
There is an ominous trend in home invasions, almost exclusively in urban areas with strong gun control laws. Home invasions occur when the assailants break and enter an occupied dwelling, with robbery or assault as a motive. In 2012, the City of Chicago suffered 277 home invasions (not counting the last week of the year). The FBI does not collect specific information on home invasions, but various estimate range up to 3,600,000 a year. Increasingly, these incidents involve two or more invaders. In southern California, the Northeast following hurricane Sandy, New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, teams of 4 or 5 broke into homes for looting, whether or not they were occupied. Violent crimes, including assaults and home invasions have reached epidemic proportions in Great Britain (3600/100,000) even though all personal firearms were ultimately confiscated after a Sandy Hook type incident in Scotland in 1996. The United States ranks 15th among "rich" nations at 2000, below Austria and just ahead of Switzerland.
In a widely reported incident, an ex-convict broke into a home in Georgia, when a woman defended herself and 9 year-old twins with a .38 revolver. She emptied all 6 rounds, striking the intruder 5 times. The intruder managed to flee and was caught by police twenty minutes later, about a mile away from the home, after he crashed his stolen car. That was one intruder, shot five times, with a weapon favored by police until about 1980. Statistically, police marksmanship is not nearly this good, at about 23% nationwide and 17% in New York City.
What if there had been two or more intruders? What if one had been armed? Six bullets, ten or thirty might not be enough to protect you or your loved ones. Unlike on television and video games, bad guys don't fall down the instant they are hit. It takes 5-9 hits from a 9 mm pistol to stop a determined assailant, and based on wartime experience, the same from a .223 rifle like the dreaded "assault weapon" used in Newtown, Connecticut. Even though one bullet can kill, it won't necessarily stop an assailant before you are hurt or killed yourself. Do the math! Three assailants, 27 rounds, and you have three to spare if you're lucky.
A 15 year old boy defended himself and twin 9 year old sisters from two home invaders, using his father's assault rifle. The father, a sheriff's deputy in Texas, praised his son, and said he never hid weapons from him, and taught him how to use them. Incidents where an "assault rifle" was used in self-defense are either rare or unreported (an estimated 93% of all self-defense incidents go unreported), but it's only a matter of time before they become commonplace. A weapon of this sort is so recognizeable and effective that most criminals flee if possible. All the better if you can prevent an assault without firing a shot. Per criminologist Gary Kleck, this is exactly what happens 99 times out of 100.
There is no evidence that suggests a limit to 10 rounds would make these weapons less lethal. With practice, a magazine can be changed in less than 1 second, and all of these mass killers were prepared to do what is facetiously called, a "New York Reload" (switch to another weapon). Unusually large magazines used by Jared Loughner (Tucson) and James Holmes (Aurora) proved to be unreliable, and probably saved lives as a result. Nor is there any likelihood that a ban on manufacture and sale of these magazines to civilians would diminish their availability.
With 200 million semi-automatic firearms in private hands, there are at least twice that number of the offending magazines. Nearly all of the most popular pistols made since 1980 (or before) hold more than 10 rounds as a standard feature. The standard magazine for an AR-15 (the semi-automatic version of the fully-automatic M16/M4 used by the military) holds 20 to 30 rounds, and there are hundreds of millions of these in circulation. Finding compliant magazines can be difficult, and they are generally in short supply (few magazines of any size remain in inventory at the time of this writing). Who but a responsible citizen would feel obligated to try?
One concludes that the real purpose of such a ban is to carve a notch in the perceived influence of the "mighty" NRA by pursuing what he perceives as low hanging fruit in the debate. This is locker room politics at its worst. If 200 million law-abiding gun owners are treated as criminals, so what? If it doesn't work, we can always pass more laws, and appoint more judges like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who prefers the constitution of South Africa to our own Bill of Rights.