The facts of life on high capacity magazines
James Holmes is an evil man. Sick? Quite possibly, but evil none the less. The same can be said of Jared Loughner who is responsible for the Tuscon shooting. The two men, and the events they started, also have something else in common. Both sparked the debate regarding high capacity magazines.
First, let’s clarify something for the non-gun folks who may be reading. Most semi-automatic weapons are designed around specific magazines. For an AR-15 or an AK-47, that is a 30 round magazine. For a 9 mm pistol, it’s usually in the neighborhood of 15 rounds. Those are properly considered standard capacity magazines, not high capacity.
Now that the bit of nomenclature is out of the way, I know that opponents of guns don’t see any reason why someone needs so many rounds in their magazine. Well, let me touch on that one. I probably don’t. On that note though, neither do the vast majority of police officers in this country who could legally secure these so-called “hi capacity” magazines during the Assault Weapon Ban. Law enforcement was exempt from the ban, yet how many officers legally discharge their firearms during the course of their career, not counting range time? Very, very few.
Despite what the movies tell us, police officers find themselves needing to discharge their weapons remarkably few times. Most police officers go their entire careers and never fire their weapons. The same is true for most private gun owners as well.
So why do they get to have something that we, the ordinary citizen, can’t get? The argument is something along the lines of the fact that police officers are charged with protecting us citizens from harm (the SCOTUS case of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales doesn’t play into it apparently). Regular folks don’t find themselves in the dicy situation cops do, or so some might argue.
The problem is that we regular citizens can find ourselves in some pretty bad spots as well. For example, people who own businesses with large amounts of cash on hand or valuable merchandise may become the target of violent criminals. I’m a journalist. Part of my job is to “get the story”. That may mean that I have to go into bad neighborhoods. Do we have less of a right to be protected? Of course not.
Loughner and Holmes’ crimes are often used as examples of how bad high capacity magazines are. Loughner used 30 round magazines for his Glock pistols, while Holmes use a 100 round magazine for his Smith & Wesson M&P AR-15. In both cases, these weapons jammed. Gun enthusiasts weren’t surprised. Both of these ultra large capacity magazines are notorious for jams. Oh, they look cool as hell, but they generally suck.
However, let’s say some people get their way. Let’s say these magazines, as well as what gun folks think of a “standard capacity” magazines, are banned. Well, unless you ban any ownership - and there are plenty who wouldn’t mind that in the least - then there is still a glut of magazines out on the market. Now, these magazines that suck are even harder to get, but the 30 rounders will be easier to get.
Some madman who is planning on a killing spree like this will now no longer count on these large capacity magazines. Instead, they’re likely to spend time practicing reloads. Even with ten round magazines, with proper practice a reload can happen very quickly. The body count is unlikely to drop, and in Loughner’s case may have actually increased (he was stopped when his weapon jammed. Holmes simply transitioned to a different weapon).
Will that stop those who want to ban these things? Of course not. They are the type that cry for regulations, regardless of who those regulations impact. They are part of the “do something right away!” crowd that politicians seek to appease after an event like this. They don’t think “rights” matter after all, primarily because some other people have done bad things.
Here’s a weird thought for you folks. Why don’t we quit trying to blame everything else, and start blaming James Holmes. He’s the tool that took a weapon and shot people. It wasn’t me or any other law abiding gun owner. Blame him, punish him, and let’s all try and move on from this senseless tragedy.
It’s not easy, but it’s important to try. I know. I lost a very dear friend in the Cafe Racer shooting in Seattle, Washington back in May. It would be easy to scream for regulations, but Kimbery Lynn Layfield was the kind of person who would expect me to stick to my principles. So, instead, I’ve tried to move on. In the case of the Aurora, CO shooting, we need to do the same as a nation.
Let’s just quit blaming guns for the work of a madman.