After the Sandy Hook tragedy there has been an abundance of emotional discussion on banning “assault weapons”, but very little talk on the intricacies of what that means. Make no mistake, with two daughters, Sandy Hook sickens me to my core, but the blatant posturing for political gain by people who know better almost rivals my disgust at the act itself. Almost. Everyone now seems eager to jump on the bandwagon of how evil “assault weapons” are, without ever really defining what that means. Even previously pro-gun politicians are proclaiming their support of a ban. On the surface, it seems very simple: Create a law that makes it illegal to sell “assault weapons” that slaughter “indiscriminately”. Why can’t that happen? The bumper sticker is because the gun lobby has so much power it overcomes the will of congress. In truth, it’s a little more complicated.
I’m not going to pick a side here. I’m simply going to attempt to explain the problems inherent in the debate, because I was having this very discussion with my wife and was astounded at how little she knew about guns. I’ve purposely steered clear of any discussion about the second amendment, mental health issues, armed teachers, or anything else involving hot-button topics, preferring to stick with some nuts and bolts that apparently aren’t as common knowledge as I thought. My purpose here isn’t to debate, but to clarify.
When I was a boy there was a rash of handgun violence in inner cities, most conducted with very cheap, short-barreled revolvers, and nicknamed “Saturday night specials”. They were junk, and had about as much chance of blowing up in the shooter’s hands as they did harming someone, but they were plentiful and cheap – perfect for throwing away after a crime. They were weapons that nobody – short of a criminal – would own, and an easy vote to get rid of on all sides of the aisle. The weapons served no useful sporting or defensive purposes, so get rid of them. A push came to ban them nationally, but when it came time to specifically define what a “Saturday night special” was, a roadblock appeared, precisely because the weapon functioned exactly like every other revolver. In order to clearly define the cheap junk, the ban would have outlawed every other weapon that operated similarly. Thus, it failed, because the congress – while hating Saturday night specials – did not believe it would be in their best interests for reelection to eliminate a whole class of weapons.
This dilemma continues in one form or another any time a “weapons ban” is discussed. Truth be told, there are certain weapons that wouldn’t bother me if they were banned , but there’s just no way to do that with any specificity that wouldn’t impact other, legitimate weapons. Take the Tec 9 pictured here:
While others will call me a sell-out, I would not blink an eye if this weapon ceased to exist. It’s not accurate, not easy to shoot, and serves no redeemable purpose for anything other than gang violence in my eyes, and yet how could you ban just this gun? Here are your options: A. You can ban it outright – as the ’94 Assault Weapons Ban did, IE – “the TEC 9 is now illegal for sale”. Four months later the maker changes the name to “Homedefender 10” and starts selling again (actually they changed it to “AB-10”, as in “After Ban”). B. You could ban the caliber of bullet the Tec 9 fires, but they’d just re-tool to a different, comparable caliber. C. In the end, the only way to ensure success would be to ban how it operates. IE – ban recoil operated semi-automatic handguns with a detachable box magazine. And here is where I step in, because that definition would ban every single semi-automatic handgun in America, from a target .22 to legitimate weapons for home defense. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with an assault weapons ban.
All semi-automatic weapons function one of two ways: 1. The gas from the burning propellant is diverted and used to chamber another round, 2. The recoil energy of the fired round itself is harnessed to chamber another round. This semi-automatic aspect is what gives the “assault weapon” its ability to put many rounds down-range in a short amount of time, and what makes it lethal. It’s not the pistol grip, the flash suppressor, the fact that it’s black plastic or that it’s evil looking. It’s how it operates. So, if you truly wanted to prevent another tragedy like Sandy Hook (given that you believe the weapon is the problem – please no comments on this, just assume for now) the surest way would be to do exactly what I said above about the TEC 9: ban how it operates. The problem is that if you do that, you eliminate an entire class of weapons that people use for hunting and sport – including weapons like this, which look evil to some but are in reality very, very expensive, tack-drivingly accurate systems used for varmint hunting and competitions:
Some would say that’s a small price to pay, that rifles such as this are no more than expensive assault weapons because they look evil, but you also eliminate this:
A Ruger mini-14 that is called the “ranch rifle” because ranchers use it to protect their livestock from predators. Some would continue that this is still not that big of a deal, but you also would eliminate this:
A Remington 1100 shotgun used by duck and deer hunters all over the United States. In fact, it would eliminate every single semi-auto shotgun no matter the make, along with every semi-automatic .22 target rifle and squirrel gun such as this:
They all operate the SAME way, and thus would be eliminated. A minority would state that’s still worth the cost, but the majority of Americans, when confronted with a ban of this magnitude, would not support such a thing. And congress knows it. With the current emotional state of the country, it’s easy – and a great sound-bite – to get on TV and say, “I’m going to ban all assault weapons”, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to come home to your constituents and say, “I also banned all your shotguns, .22 plinkers, and ranch rifles”. It’s not the “gun lobby” that prevents this from occurring. It’s the American public. Doing so would guarantee that the congressman or senator would not be reelected in all but the most liberal areas. So, not being able to do anything concrete, but still needing to show that they were doing “something”, in 1994 congress went another route, basically going after how a rifle looks instead of its capability. After a lot of gyrations, the ‘94 ban stated that a rifle was an “assault weapon” if the following was met:
Any semiautomatic rifle made after 9/13/94, which can accept a detachable magazine and which has two or more of the following characteristics is a banned Assault Weapon:
- Folding or telescoping stock,
- Pistol grip which protrudes conspicuously below the action of the gun,
- Bayonet mount,
- Flash suppressor or a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor,
- Grenade launcher. (more precisely, a muzzle device that enables launching or firing rifle grenades, though this applies only to muzzle mounted grenade launchers and not those mounted externally).
So, if the rifle was semi-automatic, able to take a detachable magazine, and had TWO of the other items, it was banned. This, on the surface, seemed to be a perfect choice, and people like Diane Feinstein are today proclaiming that the ban needs to be reinstated, but the truth is that this ban did absolutely nothing because it only discussed cosmetic differences. The average person, not understanding exactly how the ban worked, would look at this weapon and say that, after 1994, it was illegal. After all, it “looks” like one that “should be included”:
Guess what? It wasn’t. By definition, it’s not an assault weapon. Neither is this one:
California went further, creating their own state ban (that’s still in effect) that basically took the federal guidelines and restricted the weapons to only ONE of the extra features. If Sandy Hook had occurred in California with any of these rifles, it would not be classified as an assault weapon, because it’s not by California law:
In the end, defining a weapon by how it looks does little to affect anything, something that even people who are rabidly pro-gun control state, such as the legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, who said, “The 1994 law in theory banned AK-47s, MAC-10s, UZIs, AR-15s and other assault weapons. Yet the gun industry easily found ways around the law and most of these weapons are now sold in post-ban models virtually identical to the guns Congress sought to ban in 1994.”
It’s the weapon operation itself that delivers the devastation, not what it looks like. For instance, this is the Ruger Mini 14 in two different configurations. The top as a ranch rifle, legal after the ‘94 ban, and the bottom as a tactical rifle, illegal after the ‘94 ban.
One looks “evil”, but both possess the same operating system. An operation that, while potentially used for nefarious purposes, is also used daily for a host of appropriate reasons. One crazy asshole should not preclude millions of others from operating weapons legitimately (my opinion). It’s horrific that the “black rifle” was used for a crime, but it’s not any more horrific than someone who uses fertilizer to build a bomb, as Timothy McVeigh did.
After explaining all this to my wife, she said, “So what does that mean? There’s nothing we can do?” And I surprised her. There is one thing I would support. The ‘94 ban did more than discuss weapons. It also discussed magazine capacity (or “clip” if you watch the news), and restricted all to ten rounds or less. Out of everything idiotic in the ban, this one actually had some teeth. The killer in the “Batman” Aurora Theater shooting entered with a 100 round drum magazine. This is ridiculous and serves no legitimate civilian purpose whatsoever. I realize that I’m now treading on dangerous ground, about to be declared an apostate, but a ten round magazine is plenty for any defensive scenario, provided you can shoot – which, if you own a weapon for self defense and don’t know how to shoot it, you are the apostate – and also would have little impact on tactical shooting competitions. Yeah, there would be an increase in forced reloads on some courses of fire, but others are already limited to ten rounds per magazine or less. In truth, when I trained on active duty, we were routinely forced to perform a magazine change as part of the skill required to survive in combat.
And that is the crux. Changing magazines under pressure is not as easy as it sounds. Forcing some psycho to do that in order to continue killing provides an edge. Provides time for others to react. Provides a gap when he or she is essentially as defenseless as the victims on the other end of the barrel. Provides a host of things that can short-circuit a mass slaughter. According to the Sandy Hook medical examiner, each victim was shot multiple times by a rifle at close range. The fact that it was a “black rifle” is irrelevant. It could have been any number of rifles that will pass any “ban” instituted, but given the rifle at hand, with close to thirty casualties, and assuming a thirty round magazine from news reports, he would have had to reload a minimum of once. That changes to five with a ten round magazine. Five different gaps in time for someone to escape.
Unfortunately, in the end logic won’t triumph. Politicians, sensing public sentiment – and understanding the lack of public knowledge – will continue to rail against “assault weapons”, and we’ll waste enormous energy in debating a piece of legislation that completely ignores the fact that it will do little to prevent any future tragedy.
Unlike investigating the systemic societal problems that underlie each of these horrific events in the first place. Okay, I got political in the end. Sorry.
Thanks in large part to Mayor “I’m you’re nanny” Bloomberg, New York State has implemented a draconian “assault weapons” ban, saving the people of that state from the evil black rifle, and perfectly proving my point above. If you see this weapon on the range, don’t worry, it’s not an “assault weapon”, it’s called a “New York Compliant AR 15” and thus, like Bloomberg, is a warm and fuzzy thing from the land of unicorns and rainbows:
A sound technical argument, and within those limited parameters you are absolutely right. But in the end, you say absolutely nothing new that any rube couldn’t look up. If the intent was only to inform, you did a good job, but it still seems like the basic NRA defense. I’m a gun owner and I don’t really fear the black helicopters and the U.N. The truth to me is that we live in a culture that resorts to violence as a first resort and while guns don’t kill people. Heck, your writing, as good as it is, resorts to violence first. Perhaps it’s time to rethink how we do business as people.
Thank you for the comment, but I’m unclear why you paint me with the brush you do. The very reason I wrote the piece was precisely that my wife – who has been married to a special forces soldier that owns plenty of weapons – did not understand the dimensions of the debate. If you’re saying she’s a “rube”, then you defeat yourself, because I can most assuredly tell you she’s not. And if she’s not, there are plenty of others who ALSO have no idea. In no way did I propagate any NRA argument about gun control. Was there any mention of conspiracies or black helicopters in what I wrote? I could have gone the 2nd amendment or right to self defense route, but instead focused on the political realities of the United States. It’s a non-starter trying to eliminate semi-automatic weapons. You may not like it, but it’s a fact that has nothing to do with the United Nations. And a fact that exists despite the pesky little thing called the “constitution”. As for my books, I’m sorry you feel that way. In my mind, characters come first. That’s always at the front of my mindset when I write. I “resort” to violence only as a reflection of the world I once lived within. Evil exists in the world, and I apologize if it doesn’t fit the mold you wish, but it exists whether you like it or not.
I really must admit, I have never even thought of the idea of a ban not on the weapon, but the magazines. People really don’t understand that in the heat of the moment, when the adrenaline is surging, and you can hear you heart beat in your ears, that the untrained WILL have a much greater chance of screwing up. The only way I can justify manipulating the weapons on the market today is to no take the guns off the shelves, but try our best to ensure that there is a clear distinction between a military grade weaponry and a civilian weapon. IE no grenade launcher, bayonet mounts, or the large capacity mags. Extended mags were designed SOLELY for troops pinned down in heavy combat that can’t afford to reload. As civilians, if you can’t defend yourself in ten shots, you don’t deserve to handle the responsibility of a weapon. I was in Blacksburg this past year when the officer was shot, I had to lock down my building and it was the scariest moment of my life. I was also the first class to apply to Virginia Tech after the massacre. My mother is a school teacher, so these events in Newtown have hit home, hard. As out-rightly disgusted I am with the cowardice of the individuals who kill for the sake of killing, because I’d rather be the one to put the bullet in their head than afford them the easy way out, I know that I can’t blame the guns for what happened. I stood and applauded when I read the piece about Timothy Mcvae. He used fertilizer…not knives, not guns, fertilizer, and slaughtered over 100 people. No weapons ban will stop a killer from killing, blaming the NRA for stuff like this is like blaming Trojan condoms for rape with a condom..We as a society cannot sensationalize these monsters. We blow up the story, paste their picture all over the news, and create a “hero” out of the villain. Play down the stories, don’t allow others to step up and be the next mass killer for the “fame” and “glory”. We unfortunately live in a society in which some men just want to watch the world burn. We must stop pointing the finger and instead lend a hand.
Brad’s article is well written, and very much correct.
You, Daniel, think the extended magazine was invented for the troops pinned down in heavy combat? Sorry, but WRONG. Extended magazines were invented to give the infantry soldier a greater supply of ammo when firing in a fully automatic mode, 20 to 30 rounds in under 3 to 5 seconds. “Spray and pray” sort of suppression fire in the attack, or in close-in defense against groups of enemy infantry.
The US Army and Marines no longer use the large capacity mags, because they are expensive, prone to jamming, and wasteful of ammo in combat. Instead, they military upgraded to the M-240B machine gun and the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) for automatic fires in the squad and platoon, and train other rifle or carbine armed soldiers to focus on single-shot skills.
Magazine size restrictions are possible, will probably be part of the political solution, but will be a waste of paper when the new laws are written. Why? Because real criminals will always, always be able to ignore or circumvent the law. The day after a magazine restriction (5 rounds, 10 rounds, or 12), the price of all pre-ban magazines will triple. Manufacturers in China, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, and 30 other countries will perk up and begin manufacturing MILLIONS of high-capacity, low-cost magazines for export to Mexico and South America.
Within a week of a new magazine size ban, smugglers will have established hundreds of plans and routes to illegally move banned magazines into the US market, and supply the buyers in all 50 states who have the MONEY to pay the price.
We can’t stop smugglers who ship drugs, parrots, human slaves and other prohibited wares across the Mexican border. Unless we radically change our enforcement of border shipments, any gun/magazine ban will be nothing more than ‘white wash’ on the old, rotten fence.
And yes: criminals will continue to IGNORE or evade the old laws, new laws, same as before.
Funny, but I doubt that anybody will actually consider the real solution to “gun violence.” Require Eric Holder and every single US Attorney in the US to actively PROSECUTE each and every gun crime to the fullest extent of the law. 18 USC 922 already provides for a MANDATORY 5 year prison sentence for using a firearm (handgun or rifle) in any felony. It also comes with a $250,000 fine.
If we told all people in the US that using a gun in a crime = 5 years guaranteed in Federal Pen PLUS the sentence for any state/local violation (you know, rape, robbery, arson, assault, murder, etc., etc) we would see a drop in gun violence. Stabbings and clubbings would continue, but gun use would drop among the criminal element.
Brad, why don’t you turn all your extensive knowledge and discussion into action? Joe Biden is now working on this complex issue and I’m quite sure would welcome your input. If you can help craft a good law, one that speaks to the present and future, the nuances and “tricks” of changing names, you would be doing a tremendous service to our entire country.
I would also suggest, there’s a whole WHOLE lot of money in arms sales – both domestic and international – and the NRA is in it up to their collective neck. Scratch the surface of any political hot potato and you’ll find huge quantities of money. Same with this issue. Money talks. And lobbys.
A 30 day cooling off period allowing time to resolve the “Fiscal Cliff” problem, then have a select group, comprised of members of the legislative, judiciary, executive branches, parents, mental health experts, military, school officials and students to brainstorm this problem. We are literally spending billions on protecting passengers on airliners with state of the art weapon and dangerous item detection devices, but after almost a century of incidents with fatal conclusions in our schools nationwide, we divide into pro and con sides and engage in arguing about mechanical devices instead of how to keep those devices getting into the wrong hands and entering our schools and even churches and offices. I am a NRA member, legally carry concealed and voluntarily take an NRA course each year to keep up to date on current laws and remain proficient in the use of my firearms. Incidentally, I took my first firearm safety course 70 years ago with a Mossberg single shot .22. I do not own an “assault” rifle, having no need for all the nooks and crannies upon which to hang the Star Wars appearing decorations. I agree with Col. Taylor, I also have no need for more than 10 rounds in any weapon that I own and never will unless we happen to be invaded by some foreign power. I also see no reason not to require gun shows to conduct background and fingerprint checks and possibly even waiting periods in order to complete a gun show purchase of a weapon. After all that, I remain firmly convinced that although difficult, those with mental health issues should be screened out of the purchase process and also that the detection of these individuals must begin and come from the parents and the home environment. Such a difficult issue and such a rush to judgement.
So why only limit yourself to 10 rounds? Why not 6? Why not a single-shot bolt action? Why not a single-shot, ball-and-patch blackpowder matchlock?
Because the bad guys won’t limit themselves to that level of fire power. Because the cops and troops (and other agents of a supposedly subordinate government) aren’t limited to that level of firepower.
The 2nd Amendment is about guaranteeing your pre-existing, natural right to defend all of your Inalienable Rights against external threats. You’ll only be able to do that if you at least start on an even playing field.
I’m sorry, when did you last read the second amendment? Let me provide it to you (and other readers) verbatim;
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
It is about guaranteeing that the nationc an defend itself against foreign aggressors, and lets keep in mind that the framers did not have knowlegde of, nor could foresee neither automatic nor semiautomatic weapons – they did however know of cannons, and those are not an arm that citizens have a right to keep and bear.
Alexander, you’re not interpreting the effect of the comma between those two clauses – and that makes all the difference. The right of the people to bear arms is for the purpose of regulating/limiting the power of the militia, not to make a pool of citizen-soldiers from which to draw upon to make a militia. SCOTUS has been pretty consistent in that interpretation.
Ed, when was the last time you were attacked by someone with a 100-round magazine? Or even a 30-round magazine? Laws are meant to protect the individual within the context of society’s needs. You don’t need a 30-round magazine.
Joe, I applaud your long service to the nation and community. But I disagree with the notion that “background checks” will serve any greater purpose, or deter a single criminal from obtaining an already illegal weapon.
Background checks would not have stopped the shooters in Columbine, Aurora or Sandy Hook: as far as we know, none of them had ever committed a crime before they planned their attacks, none of them would have ‘failed’ a background check.
In all likelihood, each of them would have been able to sit down with a psychiatrist or psychologist, run through a battery of psych tests, and emerged with a convincingly clear bill of health. Each of them seems to have been intelligent enough to scam or fool a basic nutcase test.
Beyond that, relying on background checks is a poor strategy. The BI does not predict future behaviour. Allen Aldridge and Robert Hanssen both passed dozens of background checks, both carried govt issued pistols and rifles, and both committed TREASON and ESPIONAGE for decades, despite polygraph checks and other stringent security regs.
Alexander, you equate the 1789 timeline of the Bill of Rights with the technology of modern weapons poorly. George Washington and Jefferson were aware of the possibility of automatic weapons: Leonardo Da Vinci and others had invented “machine guns” centuries before the American Revolution. At the time, the state-of-the art “assault weapon” was the muzzle loading musket with bayonet, as that was the cheapest, most effective small arm available to the professional armies of the day (Britain, France, Russia, Prussia, etc)
The Founding Fathers expressly included the term “arms” to include any and all common weapons of the day: the musket, the sword, the pike and the halberd, without exception. “Arms” as used in 1789 would have included cannon of any caliber, as they understood WAR all too well. If they had meant to limit the term to specific weapons, they would have done so.
This may surprise you, but many citizens in the US today do own and keep “cannon.” There is no law prohibiting the size or weight of a privately owned firearm, only restrictions on the possession and use of a “machine gun.” I know of folks who own TANKS, but they don’t necessarily own a “machine gun” to put on their tank.
The purpose of allowing citizens to keep and bear arms is NOT about defending against foreign invaders, although that is a secondary benefit. It is to permit the PEOPLE of the US to defend themselves against the US government itself.
“No need for more than 10 rounds” – that is an interesting question. I would like to know how you arrived at that number. How do you know how many attackers you may need to defend against? How do you know that in 10 rounds you will be able to stop a person that is moving and while you are moving? Police carry a gun for their self protection, there is a reason that they usually carry guns with over 17 rounds and multiple mags.
You are very far out of line in attempting to tell me, what I need for my basic human right of self defense. You have no idea and government has no idea of my circumstances.
If you want to stop Sandy Hook and Orlando mass killing, have more armed good guys in these areas to stop the violent criminal faster, In Orlando, the killer did not have any resistance for over 20 minutes, so does 5 one second mag changes differ from 10 one second mag changes?
Sir, I admit I am fearful of stepping into this arena but I feel I must.I am a Paramedic and have seen what people will do to each other for reasons that thankfully I will never understand. It is hard to understand what a sick mind sees or hears,and it is even harder to deny that mind an instrument of destruction. A blanket covered with plague a balloon filled with gas a bag of fertilizer a stick with a point on it,all theses things have killed and all have one thing in common, a human mind. I have no clue what the answer to this question is but I do know we need to explore and understand the problem of how do we engage this enemy? Do we say guns are the problem,I think not, do we say people are the problem,which we are, but again no. The problem is the line we have drawn ProGun vs NoGun. A horrible thing has happen and Im sad to say a horrible thing happens every day in every place that humans are found. So if we just draw another line and pick a side to stand on we will see each other but what will change?
I think you misjudge your own culture. If you lived somewhere where people resorted to violence as a first option, your home, your city, everything, would look very very different.
Thank You! Very informative and well said. We need more informed voices in the media. Can you get on any of the shows? On Fox News ?
You and I both know that the 100 round mag that was used in Aurora is a pile of junk! That’s the reason he was not as not as efficient as he could have been. I’m sure you understand what i’m saying. He was an eviel person, the same as the coward in Newtown! Is magazine capacity really the issue? Or is the issue the fact that evil people have access to places wher law abiding citizens are not armed? Would a coward walk into a school with an A-R 15 if he knew that he would be going up against an armed staff? I think not! Criminals and cowards feed off of the people who can’t defend themselves. I’m certain a person with evil intentions better have his poop in a group to breach your home as well as mine! We start our initial defense with two double bareled shotguns to get us to our AR-15’s if its that ugly. In my opinion that is the most effective way of home defense! Put a 1911 or even better put a tactical shotgun under every teachers desk (have them trained) heck give them a snub nosed 38. How many cowards would enter a school? Like I said before a killer better have his shit together when he enters. I’m certain that the cowards in Aurora and Newtown are not operators they prey on the unarmed!
I enjoy your writing and am a big fan of your books! I just don’t understand where you are going with this blog.
I’m with you. I specifically stayed away from the larger issues surrounding this event, and stated so upfront. My point was to describe the fact that the average American has no idea what an Assault Weapon is – namely that it’s the same damn thing as every other semi-auto. I did not want to get into an emotional debate about other societal factors, which you elaborate upon and I agree with. As for the magazine capacity, while it may aggravate you, I honestly don’t see the impact other than the fact that a ban just “shouldn’t be done”. I might be wrong on that, and am missing something, but that’s what I see right now. The bottom line is that most of these events are conducted by untrained people, and a magazine change would give an edge. I trained relentlessly for a malfunctioning weapon, a magazine change, or a transition, and I could do it within a second. An untrained person would take three-to-five seconds. Yes, facing an armed response would be better, but my daughter is going to school tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to allow her teachers to have access to a weapon. Given enough training, maybe, but that would be a government run program I would have absolutely no faith in. While arming them would be a very good deterrent, I just don’t see that happening. On the other hand, I know she’d get an edge to escape with the gap of a magazine change. Hell, why not do both? Unpalatable, I know, but there it is.
I understand what you are saying but a magazine ban is another compromise. How many compromises do we have in us ? I understand that my feelings are out there. What is Isreal’s policy? I have seen things on facebook? I’m not sure its fact.
I think if arming school staff was modeled after the Federal Flight Deck Officer program it could be beneficial.
This way school staff willing to carry could volunteer, attend federal training, and prove proficient before being sworn as a Federal Classroom Officer for example.
From the TSA website about FFDOs:
Federal Flight Deck Officers are trained by the Federal Air Marshal Service on the use of firearms, use of force, legal issues, defensive tactics, the psychology of survival and program standard operating procedures. Flight crew members participating in the program are not eligible for compensation from the Federal Government for services provided as a Federal Flight Deck Officer.
I believe that this way, only staff willing to volunteer could get the appropriate training to carry on school property.
In my high school, several teachers were ex-military, one served on a Navy tactical response team on an SSBN, and two were ex-LEOs. Any of these staff would be more than proficient and willing to carry arms on school property.
Your thoughts would be appreciated.
On an earlier comment, I had said I would be reluctant to arm teachers because of the lack of training and the inevitable government mess that that would involve, which would end up with some rubber stamp that a. was so hard to get that no school would bother to do so, or b. would focus on some esoteric thing about firearms that has nothing to do with reducing the threat from an active shooter, along the lines of making sure the person knew how to load the weapon. Since then, I have been involved with the active shooter response at my own daughters school, assessing their plans and plugging gaps I saw. I learned something that I should have instinctively known: There are people of all walks of life who already have the requisite skill and willing capacity to use firearms for self defense. The facility engineer of my daughter’s school is retired military, a CCW permit owner, and his biggest complaint was that he wasn’t allowed to have a weapon on the grounds because it was a “gun free” zone. Bottom line: Yes, I think this would work. There will be some districts in the United States which will have no one willing or able to assume the mantle of such responsibility, but if it was a voluntary thing, whereby someone who actively wanted to do the mission and could get certified, I think it would be a fairly easy solution. In fact, it would almost be transparent. I can’t speak for all schools, but at least in my daughters school, there are five or six people – ex LE and ex Military – who either already have some firearms certifications or who could get one with little trouble. My only issue would be a government mandate whereby ALL schools had to designate such a person or persons. Then you’d get a school where nobody wanted to do it, and somebody would step up because they’d been ordered to and wouldn’t take it seriously, in effect becoming more of a hinderance than a help. Someone who’s never held a weapon in his or her life, but got “Certified” because the government made them, then never picked up the weapon again. In the end, that would be the school attacked, and it would be a debacle, and the anti-gun crowd would then scream, SEE! I TOLD YOU SO. Voluntary, as you say, yes. Mandatory, no.
Echo: well stated. In my humble opinion, if as few as 3% of school employees (teachers, administrators, janitors, librarians) were armed, that number of “sheep dogs” would be sufficient in 95% of all threat scenarios to make an armed assault by less than 4 assailants impractical.
Criminals attack targets that they deem to be ‘soft.’ Some attacks would continue, no doubt. In history, many school shootings were NOT random, but were directed at specific people, usually women, and usually ended up as murder-suicide cases involving domestic violence, These crimes are completely unrelated to ‘schools,’ but happened at the place where the victim worked.
Arming a percentage of school staffs would have a huge PLACEBO effect. It would re-assure parents and staff that there was a coherent plan for the defense of the common good, with some people reacting poorly… not all parents will agree to having kids in an “armed schoolhouse” and should be given the right to withdraw children and send them to a ‘gun-free zone’ or home school.
Better would be a 2nd tier plan to place armed and trained VOLUNTEERS in schools, military vets, retirees with experience, ex-cops, etc with a rudimentary uniform and a clearly defined set of Rules of Engagement.
3rd tier would be a cadre of committed POLICE of Deputy Sheriffs assigned to schools or a set of schools, all well trained and well armed, and with the equipment (radio, computers,, etc) to coordinate defensive patrols, random sweeps, and investigation of potential threats. Counter-surveillance, visitor logs, alarm systems, duress alarms, cameras, and other technical measures to make each school “harder” to attack.
Actually, this already happens. In Utah, teachers have been allowed to carry concealed in schools for years. There has never been an incident. Interestingly enough, Utah has the least restrictive gun laws in America.
So Jace, are you saying schools should be armed…I think not.
Yes…schools should be armed. The reason that they and others are hit is because they are a soft target with maximum potential for media coverage and carnage. “Gun Free Zones” are the problem. Criminals know that they will not meet with any resistance at these places and that is why they are targeted. If just one of the staff were armed, they could have taken down that dispicable excuse of a human being (whose name I will not dignify by mentioning) and prevented needless deaths.
Banning firearms or magazines will do nothing. You create easy and potential targets out of law abiding citizens. And it doesn’t even address the issue that these things keep happening in “Gun Free Zones.” Guns are already illegal there, “assault weapons” were already banned in Conn., and murder was already against the law, so how is banning firearms or magazines going to fix any of this?
So lets say we armed teachers and made our schools a fortress which could not been penetrated. Then the scumbags just waits outside the school after dismissal or on a bus full of children and does his killing then. Or the scumbag picks a different place to do there killing, maybe a office building, a movie theater, a mall, an amusement park, then what? arm everyone at those places as well??? PLEASE…. thats a society I or anyone else does want to live in.
1.Guns should not handed out like candy on Halloween, 2.No one needs a auto or semi auto to protect them selves and or for hunting, especially with large mags. 3. Anyone who has a major purchase of weapons and body armor and similar items shouldn’t be just sent out in the mail (Aurora) with no red flags.
Jace….because you seen things on facebook??? REALLY..Your kidding right. Teachers are not armed in israel as you see in that picture.
Remember everything you see and read on the internet is real << SARCASM.
In Utah, teachers can carry concealed in schools. There has NEVER been a shooting in a Utah school. Nobody is asking to make a school a fortress. The idea is simply to remove the sign on the front door that says, You there, legally armed citizen, you can’t bring that in here. Gun-free zones have been around for a while, and I don’t believe they stopped the Columbine massacre or Sandy Hook. As far as outside the schools, you would be surprised at the number of people who actually DO carry concealed in your hometown. You would never know until something happened. The fact is, these men and women who are armed and, in most cases, trained well to handle a threat, are disarmed by a sign that does not affect the bad guy.
I don’t know that I am for the idea of having guns in schools, I lean more towards NO more restrictions to guns and add more mental health assistance, but I did see some people arguing about the effectiveness of fighting fire with fire (in this case, armed school staff), and all I could think of is the 1996 or 1997 shooting where a 16 year old boy came to school, opened fire, the principal ran to his car and grabbed his .45 and shot the kid. Didn’t kill him, but put him down. Also, a few days ago, a man opened fire at a theater and an off duty police officer (could have been an armed civilian, too!) ended the man’s killing spree very quickly. I’d suggest referencing articles if you plan on using these in a debate, but they are worth mentioning.
I agree and I think that weapons should be secured so that mentally-ill, unstable or just plain crazy individuals can’t use yours against you. It bugs me that this boy apparently had access to his moms guns and amo. The bottom line – in my opinion – is that as long as there is evil on earth there will be evil people acting out against others. I’ve cried over the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook and even felt guilty that I still have my son to hug and touch. I don’t hate the M16 I slept with in boot camp, the 45 millimeter I carried as a police officer or any other weapon I’ve used. What I do hate is the myopic view taken by those who think that they can legislate violence. The problem isn’t “guns” it’s those who try to convince us it is.
Right Joe, I was wondering if my mistake would be pointed out. That will teach me to blog after 11pm , we also carried 9 mm ..
If guns dont kill, then explain why Britain has less than 100 murders per year by guns? Low gun ownership means less killing by guns, No guns means no murders by guns. Kinda simple theory. lol
How many murders do they have with other weapons. It must be pointed out that the number one weapon used in violent crime is a baseball bat.
Are you ***** retarded Jim? You do know that just because a gun is “illegal” does not make it hard to get. Marijuana is illegal (in most states) and people get there hands on them all the time. I aswell as thousands of other veterans will stand by me in support of more concealed carry, no restrictions on gun laws at all. It won’t change a *** damn thing putting a ban on any type of weapon.
The shooting that happened:
Man walks into a school where the school is a gun-free zone. Knowing damn well he will go in their and receive no resistance. Now if there was an assault weapon “ban” before this he can and will get his hands on the same weapons and could have easily did the same exact thing he did. Shorter magazine sizes? Get **** real. A well trained person can change magazines in a matter of seconds and could do the exact same thing this nut did.
Jim your theory is piss poor. Don’t like my second amendment right? Get the **** out of my country!
Tom see where it says simple theory??? Do ya??? do ya see it?? If there are no guns there will be no gun killings. Its that simple.
But no where did i say ban them or restrict them. its to late for that.
Tom ask me about your second amendment rights when ( God Forbid ) one of your kids were killed.
So you say lets put an assault rifle if every citizen walking the streets in the USA. Ya that will work, Think about it!!!
Times have changed.
change is necessary
Change like other countries with great success.
Don’t want to change the 2nd amendment for THE BETTER then get out of my country.
The answer to your question is in the COnsitution, the Bill of Rights and equally important, the Federalist Papers where these exact issues were discussed. Before chiming in about England, check your facts. More importantly, check your history. France had a weapons ban in 1930, as did Poland, as did Germany in 1931 and several other countries. Had the citizens if these countries been armed, perhaps Hitler and Mussolini wouldn’t have gotten has far as they did,
Yes you and your assault rifle will be able to take over the strongest military in the world. Good luck at that and let me know how it goes. Make sure you bring your 100 mag clip. LOL
Dennis times have changed.
Check out your facts on Britain also check out Australia and let me know how they have changed there gun laws, for the better!!!
Indeed, times have changed. When I was a young boy more than 55 years ago, we could go out and play in the morning and not return until dusk. Mom had no fear that some predator was waiting in the wings. Times have changed! Not all that long ago my own children could go out and play in the morning and not return until dusk – there were no worries about gang violence or predators or drive by shootings. You’re right, things have changed. The Clinton administration enacted an assault rifle ban, and drive by shootings with those banned weapons rose 54 percent during the ban. During my childhood, and that of my children, they could go to sleep at night withut locking the front door, there were no worries about being shot while sleeping. Yes, things have changed – but not for me – I still leave door unlocked as I know I will provide any intruder with a third eye. I’ve taught my wide how to shoot and I firmly believe in the dictum that I would prefer to attend her hearing as opposed to he funeral – yes times have changed. During the assault weapons ban, officers killed in the line of duty in the US rose 17 percent. Burglaries and robberies rose 18.1 percent. Explain to me why, within a year of the 2004 expiration of the ban, assaults witha weapon declined 14.7 percent. Armed robberies declines 12.5 percent. Yes, times have indeed changed, but I don’t need a 100 round clip – one shot, one kill!
One shot one kill? Marine?
Anyway, you briefly mention intruders in your home…. how many home owners are carrying there weapons on there person when a intruder enters there home, im willing to bet is a very small percentage, very small, so when an intruder enters your home more than likely your without your weapon. So the fear that you have a weapon when an intruder enters the home is not that much of a deterant to most criminals. And if the intruder was aware that every home owner had a gun that intruder would come in prepared and with gun ready to shoot to kill. You best be waiting and watching 24 /7 with gun cocked and loaded if you want the protection you talk about.
If these guns you talk about having as protection are so needed to be safe then explain why is america the most violent gun country on the planet and not the safest country on the planet
Your argument is weak on more than a few points. One, you are comparing the cause and effect in environments with completely different cultural approaches to guns in their society. Two you also make the broad assumption that a decrease in gun violence is in concert with the overall decrease in violent crimes. In both Australia and GB, the “gun ban” left a vacuum in the violent makeup of any nation (except the Vatican). This vacuum was quickly replaced with subsequent increases in rape, battery and assault where the knife or the aforementioned bat is now the weapon of choice of the common criminal.
A replacement with rape, battery, bats and knives? Yes all violent crimes but the chance of survival is greatly increased. Wouldn’t everyone agree with that????
We are all trying to decrease violent crimes but more so decrease mass killings. And with ownership of guns so easily obtained it can only get worse.
It will NOT get better with more guns.
We just cannot afford arming everyone with guns.
Im not saying ban guns overall but the Federal Government must act for the better of our country.
You are 4 times more likely to be stabbed in UK than shot in America.
i agree completely with Jennifer; weneed to be informed.
I have never understood why we don’t have a maximum magazine load limit. There is no reason a civilian should have a 100 rounds in a magazine. I am fully aware if someone wants to obtain a 100 round drum magazine they will find a way but if we can limit the availablity to the best of our ability, I believe that it would be a benefit. Like you point out the reloading process opens up a window of opportunity for police/tatical forces.
My heart breaks for not only this recent tradegy but all those before. However, I don’t believe banning guns is the answer. If someone wants to do bodily harm to individuals, they will find the means to do so.
I totally agree with your statements made. I’m a police officer in Houston for the past 21 yrs. and I’ve ran into those “Saturday night specials”. We had a similar issue with the “bullpup” style shotgun a few years back. We were allowed to carry for its compactness. But once the public seen it. It was banned from carrying because it looked too frightening. At least I have my AR-15. No matter what comes out of this. The crooks always find a way. Limit the magazine capacities and raise the price of ammo again.
Keep up the good work and thanks for serving our country.
I think everyone is missing the key elements in the discussion. It’s people control, not gun control. Teachers and parents are failing miserably raising children today. Absolutes in human behavior are being ignored from a child’s earliest years; morality, respect, love, honor, responsibility, etc. Children are allowed to watch and play horribly violent programs on TV and computers. They no longer are taught basics of writing or history, for example, to help them realize how to become good citizens. They are basically spoiled by their parents who would rather just “give” them recreational pacifiers rather than good parenting. They are given cell phones and unlimited texting abilities and unlimited data plans on their iPads. A child needs love, discipline and guidance and they don’t get that anymore. They face horrific peer pressures and bullying at school. They are given behavorial drugs to help them cope. They have no role models. They are given no absolutes when it comes to self value, wearing clothes that reveal as much of their bodies that rattle the mind. Gang culture rules. No one tells them how to become a responsible adult. They are not allowed to have God in their lives and, therefore, never get the chance to practice and defend the very basic foundations upon which our nation was built. Is there any wonder the products of this modern world produces such confusion and madness?
For starters, our country was founded on humanism, not religion and certainly not Christianity, with people having the right to believe any way they want without fear of persecution.
I will agree that a lot of children have not been given tools to cope with life – positive empathy (as opposed to negative empathy where people know the right buttons to upset others), compassion, respect (for themselves as well as others), and autonomy. Yes, autonomy. Children are coddled, have all decisions made for them and are rescued when they make bad choices. Children have always faced peer pressure; it comes with wanting to be included with your peers. With better training in autonomy, a child will be able to use his or her previous experiences in making choices by weighing out the consequences. We do a great disservice when we do not let our children have the chance to fail so they can grow from their experiences.
As for this article, thank you very much, Brad. I have a much clearer understanding of an assault rifle. My own knowledge of guns begins and ends with the air rifle safety from summer camp as a youth.
It does seem to me that this is what people are talking about – limiting the number of rounds a person can fire per minute – but don’t have the knowledge to articulate. I for one will be sharing this article where it will be seen by over 600 people in my own circle and their friends, and their friends…
Because this is what we really need to be talking about.
I disagree on the statement that our country was not founded on religion. Our Founders were very clear that everything most of them did was based on religion, not a specific religion, but the beliefs in general.
For starters, our country was founded on humanism, not religion and certainly not Christianity – Really????
As a teacher, you surprise me. It is rather obvious to me that you have spent little or no time studying the history of this great nation. For starters, read the Constituion, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers and visit Washington. Our forefathers held church services in the capital building! Study teach, you just might learn something.
Those in glass houses shouldnt throw stones.
First off, other than the date in the signatory section of the Constitution NO WHERE does it mention”god” “…in the year of our Lord…” was the common way of writing the date for both secular and non-secular people alike in those days. As for the other documents, while they do mention a creator, they do not specify which”god” the creator actually was. Also, none of those documents are authoritative, or considered in law. Secondly, if you studied your history of the forefathers you would come acrossed a document called the Treaty of Tripoli, written in 1797 by Thomas Jefferson which states “”As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” which is also considered law as it was signed by congress. So yes, Childwell is correct in his assessment of what this country was founded on. /rant.
There is no way to effectively institute a ban on even something as simple as magazines. Even if you make them illegal there will still be 10s of millions already in circulation. What would you do to get them out of peoples hands? Offer to pay them to turn them in? That seems highly improbable. Or just ask them nicely to turn them in of their own free will, that also seems highly improbable to work.
Well put Brad. I understand the point of your message…which was apparently lost on some. I have thought that limiting magazine capacity was a good idea for a while. You just simply cannot make a reasonable argument why 20+ round clips need to be manufactured for public sale. I also don’t see how that would infringe upon anyone’s rights of gun ownership either. Not a solution to the overall problem, but a common sense minor step that may actually save a life or two next time…which hopefully never comes.
We are all proud of you!
I have a reasonable argument for the public sale of magazines(not clips) with 20+capacity. In 1986, the FBI were involved in a shooting with two suspects. 145 rounds were fired in all, most of them by the FBI. The two gunmen were hit 6 and 12 times, respectively. Then they got in their car and would have driven off, if the last remaining uninjured officer hadn’t made some lucky hits.
The point is that under stress, anyone(even a police officer), can miss. A LOT. At the range, I can put 10 rounds on the X at 15 yards with my sidearm. I’ve done tests where I do some jumping jacks to get my adrenaline pumping. I’m lucky if I can put 3 or four of my shots on paper. I can understand banning abnormally large capacities, but a 30 round magazine is standard for a semi-auto rifle. Millions of people own them, which constitutes an unimpeachable right to own for self-defense according to SCOTUS’s ruling on Columbia v. Keller.
As a retired Cop, I understood that they managed to enforce a ban on “Saturday Night Specials” by using the type of steel they were manufactured from, as it was substandard.
In any case, raising the taxes on Ammo will do little other than hurt the low income or retired individuals, as thieves and thugs will still acquire it the way they always have. As for Mag. capacities, those who would espouse that apparently have little knowledge of the reason for the Second Amendment, nor of world history, as is presently on track to being repeated in this Country, given otherwise intelligent citizens willingness to give up our Liberties and Freedoms one small piece at a time. Ever heard of the NDAA? Drones over the USA operated by TSA? U.N. Agenda 21? Doesn’t anyone read the Drudge Report?
The Second Amendment was not put in place to allow hunting. It was intended to keep Government and those who govern, honest. People don’t want to hear that, because they always think “Insurrectionist Nut” when they do, but you can’t have an honest conversation without knowing the history and reasons behind our Constitution and the Amendments. Pick up or download and read one sometime, people.
I don’t think banning the size of the magazine can or will be effective. If I’m not mistaken, any current 30 round, 100 round, or any size over 10 rounds, would not be a part of that ban. How do we retroactively ban magazines? Those existing magazines will still be out there. If they are banned retroactively, how do you propose going after them? Physically going into peoples homes and removing them? That sounds more like another country than America to me. The “bad guys” are not going to turn them in, so the type of slaughter that happened, could and probably will reoccur. It just wouldn’t work. And I for one, would not want to give mine up. I am a law abiding citizen, but that would be one law I could not obey.
My comment about going in to peoples homes was not directed at you sir. It was simply a question as to how a ban could be enforced.
You have a good point. I’m speaking in a perfect world, but enforcement would be problematic at best and impossible at worst.
In the past, what other countries have done is institute a buy-back program for weapons/equipment that were deemed illegal after purchase. Granted, you wouldn’t get every 20+ round magazine off the streets, but with a modestly sized cash payout, you’d get a lot of them. And those that aren’t turned in will either A.) never be used in a crime, or B.) be used in a crime and contribute to an additional weapons charge.
Hello Paul Sherman,
I think Mr. Taylor is on the right track, many people are coming to the same conclusion about magazine capacity. I have given this some thought myself. I really don’t think it would be to difficult.
1. All magazines would be restricted to # rounds.
2. The gun owner would be required to purchase the restrictor, not very expensive. $4-6 per mag. When I bought my first AK years ago, it came with 3 magazines, one of them had the restrictor. It was removable, but it worked just fine.
3. If you are caught without the restrictor in a magazine, pay a fine, loose the gun.
I would like to make just a few points. The guys who did the last 4 shootings were not very good, they were not trained. They were not criminals, they were just mentally disturbed. I really do think that some people might have gotten away in the time it took these amateurs the time to change the magazines. As a gun owner and a collector of military style rifles, I can live with this restriction.
Paul, as a gun owner, I have watched as these shootings become more common. We can debate why they are happening but as a gun owner, and an American who believes in the constitution, are you really willing to say that these killings are just the price we as a nation have to pay for the price of our freedom? I am like you, I am not really sure any ban will have any effect but I am tired of watching these shootings become more and more common, each time wondering when the public will finally say, Enough guns!
What would you do to prevent more violence? Has it really gotten to the point where we are now suggesting we arm teachers? I did not grow up that way but maybe times have changed.
One last point. These laws that the administration are trying to craft are not really about curbing the violence. I believe these laws are designed to show the public that the administration is doing something about the violence. It is about perception. The president is trying to show people he is doing something, anything, so that people will feel safer and won’t have to live in fear when they go to the mall, or movie, or school. If we in the gun community continue to say things like “from my cold, dead fingers”, we will be perceived as unreasonable or extreme and play into that fear. I think we need to be a part of this debate or we will have restrictions imposed on us by a public that will go along with the bans just to feel safer.
I respectfully disagree with you regarding restrictions on magazine capacity. For starters, many 10 round mags are unreliable. Ask your colleague Larry Vickers how well his 10 round Glock 17 mags work whenever he teaches an open enrollment class in California. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice the reliability of my life saving equipment just because it gives some politician a warm and fuzzy.
More importantly, I don’t know how many rounds I’m going to need on “the day,” and I take umbrage with anyone else assuming that they do know. Especially when said persons are guarded by Capitol Police officers carrying no less than three 15 round Glock 22 mags at any given time. Tell the farmers in Texas, Arizona, and California who regularly see Mexican cartel violence spill onto their land that they only need ten rounds to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property.
I was recently walking my dog in a less than stellar part of town when a car carrying four young, hard looking, future convicts rolled up next to me and started eye-f**king the shit out of me. At the time, I was carrying my Glock 19 and a spare mag. I can assure you that I was not thinking; “gee I wish I was carrying fewer rounds.”
Tragedies happen, and it sucks. But it doesn’t give the government the right to tell me that certain pieces of life saving equipment are off limits, and that the alternative is “good enough.”
I couldn’t agree more Trevor. That was well said, and its about time I see somebody sack up and speak the truth. Restrictions on mag sizes is far from being the real issue anyway. When are people going to learn that guns are always going to fall into the wrong hands, and when they do, you bet your ass im gonna be there with a lot more than one 10 round mag.
Bravo! Well stated!
Have to say that I disagree with your statements regarding magazine capacity. I read all of your responses to other comments posted, but I believe the problem with your argument is that limiting mag capacity, regardless of the reason for it, is a slippery slope. First off, where did this arbitrary number 10 even come from? If we allow or “compromise” to a 10 round limit, what’s to stop them from making it a five round limit the next time a lunatic shoots up a school with a legal, 10 round magazine? What’s next? A ban on any rifle that’s not a bolt action? Love your books and have the utmost respect for you, but I just cannot agree with any type of legislation that would be a slippery slope leading to potentially even more restrictive legislation.
A very well written article Mr Taylor but there is one area I have issue with. That is magazine capacity. The second amendment is primary to protect the populace from government tyranny and we both know that’s the path we’re on as a nation. If that scenario ever did occur then the people would be handicapped. I agree with your opinion about reloading providing a gap for reaction in a shooting. There is a conflict and we’re allowing the government to handicap us instead of making meaningful steps to prevent the violence. People will disagree but these dirtbags need to have rounds thrown at them when they start shooting. Gun free zones are a joke and others such as the Israelis have shown us what really works IMO.
I’m ALL about SOME form of control/order with regards to guns as well as ownership, but let’s be sensible about it and rest most of the blame for misuse where it belongs, on the shoulders of the offenders. We don’t “ban” cars when a driver CHOOSES to drink and get behind the wheel…point being, ANY tool can be used as a force for destruction when you have an unbalanced operator. Case in point….on Sept. 11, 2001….nearly 3,000 people were killed and not a single shot was fired.
Completely agree. It’s why I made the point about Timothy McVeigh.
Sheep, wolves and sheep dogs (http://www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm).
Excellent reference Jim – so painfully true!
Excellent article Brad…thanks so much for your words of wisdom. Hope you don’t mind that I shared it on my FB page, now I just hope people would read it. The sad part is that to me, people that want to ban AR’s would be just as happy with a ban on ALL guns, not just those that the media keeps talking about.
I particularly loved this quote – “a ten round magazine is plenty for any defensive scenario, provided you can shoot – which, if you own a weapon for self defense and don’t know how to shoot it, you are the apostate”
This is why I object to the absurd notion that we should arm teachers. It just makes no sense. There are people who can react quickly and effectively in emergency situations, probably even some teachers. But I think only someone who uses guns on a regular basis can do so. Heck, even cops fail to react quickly and effectively and they have training.
That is why I suggest what Utah is doing. They aren’t giving their teachers guns, simply allowing them to carry concealed on school grounds, which they’ve been doing for years, with a 100% success rate. No shootings in Utah.
In an exchange with one of my conservative friends who writes regularly for a couple of FL newspapers and several websites – I was initially surprised for this to be the one issue he was one the other side. In our exchange I come up with the same accomodation as Mr. Taylor. I have no problem with limiting magazines to 10 rounds or maybe 13 rounds which is close to standard in a number of double row 9mm semi-auto pistols.
My CCW is a Ruger LC9 with a 7 round capacity. Many friends scoff at that. My attitude is that if I can’t solve any problem I’m in with 7 rounds, I’m in a situation I never should have gotten myself into. And of course the other thing is that it will force me to defend myself and others with aimed shots not unleahing a garden hose of lead.
Not needing more than 7 rounds presumes your antagonist has no cover or concealment and is standing out in the open…or that some people just seem to soak up bullets without showing the effects. I give you the FBI Miami shootout some years ago where one of the bandits sustained a “non survivable” wound but still managed to kill two agents and wound another.
Another little note…if you see non tactical team police deploying with rifles they probably have had to purchase the weapons and the magazines themselves on the civilian market.
When I was at my training class we were taught to engage multiple threats as that is how most criminals operate. Having seven rounds is not bad for a single criminal but what happens if he has a couple friends? I am also taking a course with Larry Vickers and he has stated that at minimum, to have 3- 15 round magazines for self defense, 5 magazines being optimal. We would then need almost 10- 7 round magazines to carry. The banning of rounds in a magazine seems on the surface, as Brad describes, a good idea but the solution for most bad guys would be as they have done, bring multiple weapons! My problem with this is when is the concession enough? Because if 10 rounds is satisfactory why not only have guns that shoot 5 rounds or single shot! Of course my knowledge does not come anywhere close to Brad’s and I respect all he has done. I think his approach really shows the complete lack of knowledge on the part of these politicians to enact a ban to solve a problem is futile. Because when we come down to it the root of the problem is not or will ever be the tool but the one using it.
Brad– Never heard of you before reading this piece a friend of mine posted on my FB page. Thank you!! What a great article. You have a new fan. You have no idea how surprised and elated with joy I am that I have found someone willing to take the time to ‘teach’ folks about the definition of “assault weapons”, and to address such a subject without being on one side or the other. I will, in turn, paste this to my FB wall, and my hope is that all that know me and feel a ban is what is needed, will find this article informative. I, too, have no issue with limiting the size of the magazines and try to inform, who I can, as to what actually defines an assault weapon. Kudos, my man. And a HUGE thank you for you service. My hat is tipped, sir.
Thank you – I think. I hope you didn’t take that blog to mean I think we should ban any weapons, because I’m the polar opposite of that. I’m not sure how you could from what I wrote, and I’m probably reading something into your post, but I just wanted to be clear.
LOL….. not at all. I am an avid gun enthusiast, and an adamant weapons safety teacher to my children. (I have 6). I have many friends and family that have been unable to grasp the actual definition. I have tried to explain, unfortunately, because I am not an “expert” my words go unheard, sometimes, and I am marked as an “unreasonable, extreme right winger”. And I am not. I am just a regular dude, that likes hunting,etc. And a steadfast protector of my bride and my children.
I see where the confusion was. I am for the 2nd Amendment..to the fullest extent. However, many friends and family laws should be changed, at the least, to smaller firearms (like the Sat night special) because they do not understand the true definition of an assault weapon.
Thanks for enlightening me on the various weapons and especially the various magazines that each weapon contains and its purpose. I believe we ought to go to the core of these violent, hideous crimes. What about personal responsibilities ? When a parent, relative, friend knows of someone who has mental issues be willing to question if correct help is being made available to the individual. What about our politicians who spend recklessly on stupid pork in order to get elected, instead of using those funds in their states to help our wounded veterans?
I live here in Tucson and it is so hypocritical of this administration allowing guns delivered in the hands of the drug cartel and having those same guns kill our Border Patrol Agent Brian Kelly. You all heard of Fast & Furious ! (this still hasn’t been resolved)
A well-considered post, Brad. As you concluded, I agree that we aren’t going to see a surge of public education on this issue. The media and pols are less interested in informing the public as they are in guiding public opinion. Also, notice the lack of mention that so much of our violence stems from Drug War participants. FWIW, I suspect that the new AWB will be like the first but more expansive and more difficult to circumvent. Question, didn’t Miller v US tacitly legalize “militia” capable weapons that didn’t conflict with the NFA?
Very well written and one of the best explanations on why gun legislation is not so cut and dry…
But I must take issue with the “magazine capacity” comments both in your article and with the comments that followed.
I do not hunt. I shoot for fun. But I own guns (shooting for fun is secondary) because I firmly believe that is one of THE best ways to defend against tyranny as our forefathers well knew. Personal/Home defense certainly is factored into the equation, but defense against tyranny MUST NOT be ignored in this argument. That tyranny can be in the form of an invading force or from our own government within.
Now, I am no loon. I just think people have forgotten or otherwise ignored their history and think “there is no way it could happen here in America…”. That is correct, as long as we are vigilant in not eroding our rights to defend our freedoms.
I know many here do not understand this…I get that…and see no harm in giving up certain liberties in their misguided belief that it somehow secures their peace. They are fooling themselves. If this young shooter did not have access to the firearms he used, he could have easily tossed molotov cocktails or blown up propane tanks at that school and actually caused greater death and mayhem than he did with those guns.
Limiting the magazine capacities does nothing to deal with the heart of the man. But it DOES infringe upon my right to defend myself, neighbors, and my country as I see fit.
I have owned or own about a dozen guns over the last 25 years with high capacity magazines, and you know what? I’ve not managed to kill a damn thing other than paper targets or plastic bottles filled with water. There must be something wrong with me and the other 99.9% or legal firearm owners out there…
Rick, I agree with you on every point. But the response is going to be a lot of “but he might not of…” and “maybe he wouldn’t have…” Apparently it is okay for them to speculate about their theories, but not for us to do the same. FYI, protecting ourselves from tyranny isn’t going to get much traction in a society that can barely be bothered to study the issues or get out and vote on them.
Are military pattern rifles too efficiently/dangerous to risk even one crazy person getting access? Are normal-capacity magazines so dangerous that we can no longer risk even one crazy person getting access? You and I don’t think so but it’s an easy argument to make to a sad, angry, scared public who thinks that our goal as shooters is to arm everyone. It pains me to point out that people consider it a good trait to think “I could never harm somebody else,” and they race to give me that answer when I ask them. When did that become a good thing? Why isn’t the answer “If I was protecting myself, my family, or someone helpless, ABSOLUTELY YES!”? When my kids ask “when would you use your gun?” the answer is automatic: “To protect our family or someone whose life is in immediate danger.” You don’t have to be a professional soldier or cop to understand that society protects the weak or becomes weak.
Kevin and Rick, thank you for being fellow sheepdogs. What everyone on the other side of this argument can’t seem to wrap their heads around is the fact that any type of legislation, whether it be an all out ban or magazine capacity restrictions, create laws. Laws that would only effect law abiding citizens, completely negating the purpose of that law. So when an armed citizen enters the fray with a limited capacity handgun, or a small town police officer responds to an incident with a rifle he was forced to purchase on the civilian market because he’s not a swat officer and his department doesn’t have patrol rifles in their budget, it’s that citizen or that officer that will be changing magazines while that bad guys are still shooting at him with their illegal, high capacity magazines. As I’ve stated on another forum, limiting magazine capacity is the equivalent of limiting the speed of motor vehicles so that drunk drivers have less of a chance of killing someone. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
I’m with you guys. It seems to me that any magazine ban is trying to close the barn door after the high cap mag horse has already left. High caps will still be made for military and LE and they will still exist in mass quantities and they will still find their way onto the black market and into the hands of bad guys. It may have a small effect eventually but in amounts impossible to quantify. Is there any evidence that the “Clinton Ban” had any effect on these types of incidents? Not that I am aware of.
If the next tragedy is only 18 dead and no high caps are used, is that success or failure? What will we ban then? When will it be enough? To me, It’s an obvious case of capitalizing on a national event to restrict more of our freedoms. If they do it incrementally, in the name of public safety or national security, then who would object? I feel like we’re the proverbial frogs in the pot and only a few of us are noticing how warm it’s getting.
The mother and the killer at Newtown was also like you, a law abiding citizen that killed nothing 99.9 % of the time, Are you next?????
I don’t see you point!
Am I next what?
Are you the next to go insane and kill innocent people.
Oh wait your the 99.9 % law abiding citizen you wont do that.
Oh wait the mother and son that killed in Newtown were also part of the 99.9% until…..
Oh wait the killer in Aurora was also part of the 99.9 % until,,,,,
Oh wait the Columbine killers were also part of the 99.9 % until,,,,,
Im confused, should I be part of the 99.9% or the ,1 %
Notice that in every circumstance you mentioned, there was a history or clear evidence of mental illness. Banning high-cap magazines does not prevent people from being mentally ill, or acting on their impulses. If I was coaching in a competition, and I knew the opponents would have some high quality or state of the art piece of equipment that would give them an edge, I would also want that piece of equipment. Our society, with the numbers of criminals our legal system plays catch-and-release with, is a competition. Only the prize for losing is your death.
Jim, you just enjoy being unarmed, and I’ll continue to be a responsible gun owner. Which I already know that Mother Lanza was NOT.
So lets arm everyone with an AK 47 nothing more nothing less and then what we starting shooting when some tries to take my parking spot at a mall or shoot to kill when someone takes the last seat on the train or over an argument about a sporting event??. that’s what it would come to if everyone was armed, you must realize we are not all responsible gun owners and or citizens,
Less guns, less gun killings..
I rather a fighting chance against a knife than a gun.
Maybe I missed this in the discussion, but limiting magazine capacity wouldn’t really solve the problem if someone was carrying more than one gun, would it? You have more than one weapon, why wouldn’t everyone else?
Gun control may feel like a personal sacrifice you’re not ready to make yet, but there’s no denying it makes it much, much harder to kill 6 year olds if we limit rights to weapons of rage. At some point, we have to abandon the idea that the founding fathers were looking to this future when they penned “the right to keep and bear arms.” Surely, this is not the world they envisioned.
We’ll have to respectfully agree to disagree. Clearly, I’m not going to change your mind, and you most assuredly won’t change mine. You have no interest in firearms for sport or self-defense, and thus find no issue with removing them completely. I, on the other hand, do. As for the world “they envisioned”, you hit the nail on the head. Maybe we should look at societal issues leading to such attacks instead of the method. Make no mistake, if zero guns existed in the land, that man was going on a rampage. By all accounts, he was intelligent and driven. If he’d decided to kill with a bomb through information readily available on the internet, would you then proclaim we need to shut that down, a la Iran and Egypt? There’s potential good and bad in everything, and in a democracy we suffer one to embrace the other.
I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but guns are far more useful than just for killing people. Millions of people use semi-auto rifles for sport, hunting, and self defense. Millions of people also use cars for driving. Fact is, there are people out there who use both cars and guns for the wrong purpose. It just so happens that guns are no longer “socially acceptable” like cars are.
Lets be honest here, they can ban whatever they want. they can make it a federal law, “NO GUNS ALLOWED”. But the absolute fact of the matter is criminals will have guns. bad people with bad intentions will do bad things. Here is a prime example, think about what is legal and illagal to buy right now. how does the process of buying a gun from the store work. back ground checks and all. what about purchasing assault weapons. I once had a friend from a while back, i caught up with him in the parking lot of a bank, he was going back to vietnam and had to unload some things. so i bought a couple of guns off him. I now own multiple guns without a background check. One of them was an AK-47 and at the time it was really hard to get a hold of those. so ban it, w/e. i got ammo for days and i dont care what the law says. but actually i got rid of those, i now only own a glock 33 and nothing else, legally at that. and the reason why i keep this gun is because i know how easy to get guns illegally.
Thanks for writing this. It is very informative for non-gun owners and hunters alike. I am a fan of your fiction books and looking forward to the release of your new book. However, I completely disagree with your following statement “a ten round magazine is plenty for any defensive scenario, provided you can shoot”.
Your previous unit has some of the best marksmen in the world and they would never go into a real-world VIP Protection or urban reconnaissance mission with a Glock 19 or MP5-K and only 10-rd magazines. I picked these missions because if you had to use your weapon in this scenario, it would be a strictly self defense situation.
I CCW a Glock 19 daily with 15 rd magazines. Police Departments throughout the US issue Glock 17’s and Glock 22’s with 17 rd magazines for self defense of the individual police officer. If high capacity magazines are good enough for the protection of police officers and their families they MUST be legal for the self defense and protection of the families of ALL law abiding gun owners.
Hook Em Horns
I hear you, but, for the record, a PSD in a hostile fire zone is much different than a defensive posture on the average American street. Yes, I would agree that if I were worried about a synchronized attack against myself or my family consisting of eight or ten men I would not be happy with a ten-round magazine, but in quite a few PSD scenarios the need for concealment of the weapon due to political/sensitivity issues, coupled with a realistic assessment of the threat, leads to the use of a Glock 26 or 30 compact – which holds 10 + 1. The same is true for reconnaissance. Depending on the threat, concealment/chance of compromise outweighs the use of overt weapons, and there have been plenty of missions conducted where the operator carried nothing but a compact – or took no weapon at all.
But your point is well taken. It’s all about the threats involved.
Maybe you should visit some new places. I live in a city where if I’m wearing the wrong color in a particular neighborhood, I’ll get shot. Gang violence is huge in our nation, and it’s nobody’s fault except the fathers of those boys who kill for initiation.
Thank you for your informative post. I’ve always considered myself a proponent of gun control, but the truth is that I know little about guns–I’m not a member of a military family, no one in my close circle is a cop, and I have personally never shot (or had the desire to shoot) a gun. But I’m also a proponent of the Bill of Rights and enough of a realist to know that guns are a fact of our society. So I’m trying to become a little more knowledgeable about the subject and the views of those who vehemently oppose any kind of gun control, hoping to find room for a balanced approach, even–gasp!–room for compromise. Reading your post when I came across it on Facebook is, I suppose, in the spirit of that self-education.
I’ve also read over the last few days a little about smart-gun technology, i.e., guns that use identification such as fingerprints to ensure that only the owner can discharge the weapon. It seems to me that this would be something a lot of gun owners would support–no chance of a child accidentally shooting it, no chance for criminals to overpower owners and use the gun against them. I could envision this even as a change that wouldn’t necessarily be legislated, something gun-rights activists could demand from the manufacturers as a common-sense measure. Maybe from your perspective I’m completely in la-la land, but I’m curious to know what your thoughts are about this.
Honestly, I don’t know enough about the technology to offer an opinion. The technology is still a ways off from being reliable and consistent.
This is a great write up about guns. I own a internet gun business and this is the type of information people, politicians, and people that want to ban guns should see and hear. It does not matter how much any pro-gun person talks, they usually cannot persuade an anti-gun advocate and vice versa. I remember years ago I seen a video of a well to do respectable gentleman that was AMAZING at what he could do and he needed no High Capacity Magazines, Assault RIFLES, or evil looking gun. In uses a standard 6 shot revolver. See its not about the Tool the person uses its about the PERSON. For your viewing pleasure.
I have worked in local law enforcement for over 40 years. I remember when they first talked about “smart” guns. First if the gun is locked to a fingerprint, which finger? Would you have to get the same grip with your hand every time? There is not much of the finger pad that actually contacts the trigger, would a partial print do? It is getting a little cold in Indiana, would it work with gloves? The other version I heard talked about is a chip in the gun matching a electronic chip in a ring on your finger. What happens if your strong hand is disabled and you go to your weak hand? Would the firearm still be in range of the chip to function? How often would you have to change batteries ?If you have to go to a gun it has to work and there are quite enough things that can go wrong with that piece of machinery that I would never, ever want to rely on a more complex weapon (you don’t want a “blue screen of death” to pop up when you draw a weapon.) As an after point I would mention that out of nine school districts in this county eight have their own armed police force with patrols going from campus to campus. The last one contracts with off duty police to do the same function.
By the way Brad, I have a Glock 26 but usually carry the Glock 19 under a shirt sometimes with the larger Glock 19 mags for a reload and it conceals very well indeed.
Ooops, I meant I carry sometimes the Glock 17 mags for a reload.
Brad, good article.
Magazine capacity is certainly a slippery slope. I haven’t heard anyone say, “at least he didn’t have a fully auto weapon with grenade launcher attatchment”. Next time something like this happens and it involves 10 round magazines, do you think people will say “at least he didn’t have a 30 round magazine?” Doubt it.
Thanks for this article. I agree that very few understand these technical issues. Although I also expect that most don’t want to be bothered with them, but I am glad that you have tried.
However, you might be over-reaching slightly for the sake of your argument when you state the auto-loading Shotguns and .22-LR firearms cannot possibly be spared in any ban on semi-automatics. It is possible to write legislation that specifies different rules for “center-fire” firearms, “rim-fire” firearms, and “shotguns.” In fact, the current crop of California laws already make that distinction. The California AWB has different rules for center-fire firearms and shotguns, and does not apply at all to rim-fire rifles. So, you can make your 10/22 (rim-fire) as black or scary-looking as you want, but you cannot do the same to your off-list AR-15 clone (center-fire). I am not at all a proponent of this approach, but it is a possibility.
Perhaps you might argue that would result only in the the creation of new major caliber rim-fire cartridges and firearms redesigned to shoot them? However, this hasn’t happened in California yet, and I suspect that it would involve some significant technical difficulties.
Yes, you are correct, but as you state, my point was to illuminate. On the other hand, the distinction may be lost on congress, much like it was in Australia in 1996. They banned all semi-auto weapons, period. You can still own a semi shotgun or rimfire, but only if you can demonstrate genuine occupational need – in other words, prove that your job requires you to own a semi-automatic shotgun or rimfire, which pretty much means they’re banned. A centerfire, forget it completely.
The Sandy Hook shooter did not use his Assault Rifle.
Whatever you all know about firearms, your understanding of the Second Amendment is a load of horseshit. Look to Switzerland to see what our Founding Fathers intended: an armed citizenry, rather than a standing army, with all of the ammo under lock and key at armories, for use only in time of invasion.
I hope you’re just making a general statement about the various comments and not specifically about the blog. I do understand the second amendment and support it completely, but also stated up front I wouldn’t be broaching the issue in the blog.
Your magazine comments are addressing a meterial factor of an implement of gun violence not the disease: the lack of personal responsibility. This a response to an anomolous act that is exceepingly rare but hyper publicised in the 24 hour “info-tainment industry”.
“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”
I’m sure you understand the 2nd Amendment but the idea that emplacing a magazine capacity restriction is certianly an “infringement”. If someone will go so far as to research how to make an AN/FO bomb and blow up the Murrah Building in Ok.City, I am sure they can learn to reload a pistol fast enough to accomplish their evil ends. That said a previous sentiment will come to pass and the saintly 10 round magazines will become the “evil” GenII “high capacity magazines”. This will not stop and you failed to mention any statistics associated with the debate that would illuminate the lack of logical effectiveness associated..
323 rifle murders in 2011 as per FBI uniform crime report.In 2011, as per FBI Uniform Crime Report, 323 or 3.76% of overall gun murders are committed with rifles of all types. I have purposely omitted “others guns or type not stated” because every crime report of most police department has strict requirements to report type of weapon used i.e.type by name or “assault weapons” , shotgun/ handguns in investigations. If you weigh the 323 rifle murders as 50% “assault weapons”, you collect them all nationwide via buy-back or outright confiscation and none migrate to other weapons types (which they most certianly will) , you are talking about a reduction in murders of 1.88%. In that process you will debase the very intent of the 2nd amendment, alienate a substantial portion of the populace who believe in the second amendment causing political upheaval that will be unprecedented all with nearly no benefit. If you take my guns you get a “moral victory” and I have a physical property and rights loss. This is based on my best case scenario and there will be nearly no effect. If crimes migrate to other gun types then there will be no effect other than I lose my guns and rights and am no safer.
(United States Crime Index Rates per 100,000 Inhabitants most recent data is 2011)
-Violent crime (overall) the lowest since 1970 (42 years)
-murder lowest since 1963 (50 years)
-rape lowest since 1976 (36 years)
-robbery lowest since 1967 (45 years)
-burglary statistically insignificant increase (702.2 vs. 701/100,000 pax) and lowest since 1965 (47 years)
I agree, and actually had some statistics in the original version. Your statistics are unbiased, as they are crime reports, but I also had some from those attempting to re-create the ban, my favorite being the “drop” in crimes utilizing assault weapons after the 94 ban, when in actuality it was simply a drop in crime committed with a rifle DEFINED AS an assault weapon by the very ban being supported, not a drop in crime at ALL. A circular argument.
In the end, as I stated, I decided to attempt to completely segregate all of the other societal/constitutional/statistical issues for illumination purposes of the specific assault weapon debate. It’s not perfect, but the best I can do.
As for the magazine issue, I suppose it could be viewed as an infringement, but no more than requiring an NFA tax stamp to own a class III weapon. In fact, magazines greater than X capacity could be included in that act, making it legal to own after proper vetting. I myself have applied for a tax stamp for a suppressor, and didn’t find it unduly troublesome (although I’m still waiting on the ATF for approval – six months later). I suppose the argument could be made that the NFA act itself is unconstitutional, but the courts have sided otherwise.
Thanks for the post.
NFA as a COA is not possible as each device would be serialized like a can or SBR. Why not use the concealed carry law model? In neary all of the 39 states where shall issue permit laws exist there is either a decrease in crime or no change whatsoever (statistically speaking). That being the case as a country with a culture of individual freedom it makes sense to have shall issue laws if they in balance are related to decreases in crime or no change. As it relates to semi-autamitic weapons and high capacity feeding devices why not have a semi-auto license like a CCW license that requires certified and standardized training and a background check? By having a fee as a CCW the program will pay for itself and allows mild oversight on those who posses them. I am perfectly happy with the current laws minus the importation restrictions (they are useless and really either protectionist or spiteful in their origin) but if it is going to change lets at least make a change that accomplishes the desired effect. The real answer is to ensure people are competent and safe and keep people from misusing them, not to restrict the weapon by type. CCW holders are statistically far less likely to commit gun crimes but have far more access to them in open venue’s.
The problem with the current administrations’ desire for “meaningful gun legislation” is it’s actually a desire for restriction and limitation. If they are forced to acknowledge the success of the recent CCW laws enacted then perhaps we can use that as a model and exert proper end user screening and training and not gun restrictions. The data is in favor of it but the media and emotions of the left seem unwilling to tolerate it. Their idea of give and take is “you give up your guns and we take them” or compromise is “you compromise your rights and agree with me”. This is a debate that as of late has been devoid of data and rational, constructive thought.
Completely agree. Very thoughtful post. I was using the NFA because I’d just used it as an example on a completely unrelated post, but after I did I thought, “Would I really want to go through that much BS for a simple magazine?” Your answer is spot on regards to training and certification and the CCW laws. Couldn’t agree more, especially the last paragraph.
Just curious Mr Taylor, you’ve made your argument against high cap mags clear essentially stating there is no legitimate need for them within the sporting and home defense realms, yet you admit that you’ve personally applied for a tax stamp for an NFA suppressor. What legitimate home defense or sporting purpose does that serve? Admittedly I don’t know what line of work you do outside of writing these days, but I don’t see any “legitimate purpose” for one outside of military special operations, and if that were the case, then you would not be personally applying for the tax stamp. Just to be clear, I’m not bashing those that do legally own a suppressor, I just think your argument is flawed.
This topic is so emotional I’ve obviously touched a nerve. It takes away from my central purpose about assault weapons, and people read into it what they want, which is my fault for not being more clear. If you’ve read all of my responses then you’ve seen that I don’t feel hi-cap magazines are evil. It’s just a tradeoff I’m willing to make. I agree with the person who posted above (in fact the one where I responded about the suppressor) that a CCW type authentication is a good solution. I’m not hysterically saying that they should all be destroyed, but I’m okay with some controls presented on their purchase and ownership. In my mind, it’s not that big of a tradeoff, given the benefits. I did say that a 100 round drum has no legitimate purpose, and I believe that, but I’m not saying NOBODY should own it no matter what. Just that if someone wants one, he or she needs to go through some process to ensure that he or she is a stable individual. As for the suppressor, I’m getting it precisely because it will allow me to shoot near my house without causing my neighbors to freak out and call the police. It’s for a .22 target pistol. And yes, I’ll admit, a part of getting it is simply because I want one, but realizing that the suppressor could be used for nefarious purposes, I’m okay with going through the process to own one. There is another post from a “little old lady” who owns an M203 and multiple machine guns as a collector. I applaud that, but wouldn’t want those same systems to be available for purchase over the internet to anyone with a home address for delivery.
That’s interesting. I see no mention of Switzerland in the Constitution. Our founders spent weeks crafting the preamble (one sentence). I’m certain that if they intended ammo to be locked under key, they would have made it perfectly clear.
Great article, reading it from other end of the world (India). We as society has many problems and without great leader in sight not solving them correctly.
Understand capitol hill is not a easy place but something needs to be done to reduce this kind of horrific incident. But best part I love and liked about USA while leaving there for couple of years a country with strong believe and can-do attitude. One option may be increasing the price of this kind of deadly weapon, reduce the magazine size as suggested by you and some technology. But doing nothing would be wrong.
Incredible article. Honestly, it’s hard to find someone who makes a logical, well-thought out argument that fits within the parameters of reality. There are tons of people, particularly NRA types, that don’t bother looking at things from the other side of the table and just argue “2nd Amendment!” and “you can’t take guns away from criminals, you’ll only take them away from law-abiding citizens!” While those, if you call them arguments, may be valid, they don’t offer a solution to the problem. Another one I hear a lot is “if there were more armed people there, someone would have taken down the shooter.” True, but that also isn’t a solution because anyone who believes in carrying does carry, assuming they can afford it. Unless they are proposing to make a law that forces everyone to carry, I don’t see how that statement offers any light on the problem at hand.
While I can’t turn away from the logic in your 10-round argument, I would personally be quite upset if such a law was passed. I would have to go buy new mags for my Glock, carry more on my person when I go out, and I would feel like it was an act of oppression every time I saw a cop who I knew was carrying more than 10 rounds. Putting my feelings aside, it’s a sound solution. I could keep my AR, and I would know that someone with malicious intent wouldn’t be able to go out and buy a 100-round drum or even a 30-round. Given an active shooter scenario, I wouldn’t feel limited by the magazine cap.
Honestly, I’d settle for the removal of “gun-free zones”. Every mass shooting to date, it seems, has been committed in one of those firearm vaccuums. I believe that most murderers are cowards, and given a modicum of resistance, would reconsider their target.
I agree with many of your statements and I for one happen to love recreational shooting, at the end of the day my heart goes out to all those who’s lives have been forever changed do to a sick individual. I’ve always held the position that my weapons are locked in a gun vault with trigger locks since I have two daughters, but I’ve also realized guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Something else I don’t think people think about is you can have a semi automatic pistol which on the low end has a 7 to 10 round capacity and have the same outcome as we recently saw.
At the end of the day people can say ban this ban that and these things will continue to happen, as long as there’s sick people that prey on women and children. I don’t think we’d ever see one of these morans walk into a building full of operators and try to do something like this, and at the end of the day I can deal with lower mag capacities if it means saving innocent lives.
Thoughts and prayers to the families if Sandy Hook and others that have had to endure similar pain.
One more thing and this is only my opinion, as we are bound by the rules of a ban and things we use to protect ourselves and our families, criminals and sick individuals won’t be bound by the same restrictions due to the various ways they gain access to their weapons which are mostly illegal methods.
Which unfortunately still leaves most of us vulnerable.
Just a thought.
You miss the point of the 2nd Amendment when you discuss supporting magazine capacity limits. The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting, sporting use, or perceived need. It is to ensure that the American Citizen has equal firepower to defend their rights, especially from their own government.
Other than that, nicely written article.
Thank you, and I understand where you’re coming from, but to play devil’s advocate, if what you say is true, we should be fighting to repeal the NFA, which made it hard to obtain Class III weapons – IE fully automatic assault rifles, grenade launchers, and other destructive devices. Not impossible, but certainly not in the average household, which would be necessary for “equal firepower”.
I agree, but of course, that ship sailed years ago. You know, if you think about it, it’s the government’s own fault. They banned alcohol, which spawned organized crime in America, and thus the machine gun was banned because of all the murders.
You logic is sound and valid, but do have issues with the magazine idea. As mentioned by others the 10 round issue was just pulled out of the air. I am sure if the original persons who came up with the 10 round limit could have thought they could get a 5 or 3 round limit (“hunters only allowed 3 or 5 why should you have more, you should be able to kill what you need with one shot why do you need more”, etc) they would have since their ultimate goal is to ban all guns. If you push the gun banners who push the limit and can get them to admit it they will state they really want to ban all guns. (as Sen Feinstein and others have openly admitted). And I guarantee it will happen the next time if a magazine ban is passed and somebody then uses numerous 10 round mags, then the cry will be ban 10 round mags or all magazine fed weapons. It is a slippery slope.
Not saying to we should give it all up and just allow mayhem, but also don’t believe in any bans. If you want to allow restrictions (i.e. waits, background checks) that is discussable but once you ban something it is a path you don’t want to go. What is to say next you wouldn’t have a ban on hateful/hurtful speech? Words can’t hurt right or a movie couldn’t possibly hurt somebody to incite mob violence). Hmm.
Anyway good info to educate the people who just blindly yell “ban assault weapons” but don’t really understand what they are even talking about, just parroting the latest propaganda fed to them on a spoon. Do enjoy reading your books and keep it up.
Brad- while your blog was informative about what a ban would do, your last bit on the magazine capacity is flawed. You make the argument that banning high cap mags would force the would be shooter to reload several times therefore lessening the carnage.
When has a criminal obeyed the law? You would have to go door to door to get all of the high capacity mags off of the streets….a feat that no LEO would do because they would not put themselves at risk for such a task.
Even by banning them what have you accomplished? Nothing. You still have the problem of “gun free zones” as being the targets of opportunity for these deranged individuals. That does nothing to solve this problem.
And as far as “legitimate reason to own” something….where in the constitution does it say that I have to justify the use of something before I buy it? How many unneccasary items do you have at home? How many things can you look and and say, “Well, I really don’t need it but I have it anyways.” You do realize that the 2nd Amendment was put into place to protect us from the tyranny of gov’t and that, technically, we are supposed to be able to purchase and own what the military uses so that the citizen would not be outgunned by the federal government?
Arm and train the teachers and staff. That is the only guarenteed fix. I know it doesn’t sound right and people are going to be NO WAY, but think about it. You can bury your head in the sand to the reality of the situation and offer only artifical fixes (that will only effect law abiding citizens) or you can take on the challenge head on.
I am curious how many high capacity magazines, which “high capacity” is going to mean something different to every different person – perspective and all that, but how many that are already in existence and are possessed by humans are going to be turned in if there is a ban on them? How many violent crimes are committed by legally obtained firearms with “high capacity” magazines?
There are only 2 real problems that make violent gun crimes possible (IMHO)
1: mental (a very broad blanket problem) issues – no mentally well person can take a life, much less many lives, for no reason, and there is no reason to take many lives, ANY lives, unless defending your own life.
2: security – the firearms, magazines, ammo, *everything* that was used in the horrific act at Sandy Hook Elementary was obtained illegally. Stolen. Whether stolen from his mother, or from the USMC, it was all stolen. He could not have legally obtained it all and did not legally obtain it. So had the items all been more secure, there would have been no tragedy (at least not the same tragedy – evil has ways of creating tragedy, but that is another subject). Firearms must be secure. The government, law enforcement, and security organizations all have their own protocols for the security of their stuff, people should too. But where there is a will there is a way, so nothing is 100% secure. The whole human factor can not be overcome.
So if congress, the president, you, or anyone else wants to push for something that will prevent things like the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, then they need divine supernatural powers, Because unfortunately it lies in the proper parenting of all children, the proper treatment of all mental issues, and the proper handling, storage, care, security, and all around ownership of anything that can be used to cause harm to others, firearms and all related items in particular. There is no law, list of laws, or anything that anyone can do to control everyone.
I do agree with most of what you say, but my problems are this.
1. If any ban is placed…who will follow it? Only LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. Not the people that we do not want to have high capacity magazines. (Speaking of this. Any AR has a 30 Rd capacity magazine is a normal capacity, not high.)
2. Placing a ban on anything only increases the value of it to “EVIL DOER’S” Look at Al Capone or any cartel.
We need to look for real solutions to these problems.
I like to look at our fire safety programs in schools. How many children have been burned in school fires in the US in the last 50 years?
The reason why? Education in the classroom, training.
We need to introduce training into our school systems, teach children not only what to do in an emergencies like these, but firearms safety and responsibility. I know many parents will go crazy over this, much like they did when sex ed. was introduced into our schools.
A small tax on firearm or ammunition sale should be enough to cover implication of these programs, and most hunters and shooters will do anything to introduce education programs to ensure the safety of our children.
Thank you for your service.
SSG John Halsey
Agree with what you say, but on the devil’s advocate front:
1. Yes, law abiding citizens would follow it, which was precisely what Adam Lanza’s mother was. Thus, he wouldn’t have had access to them.
2. Funny you mention Al Capone. He’s the very reason that the NFA was instituted, making it nearly impossible to obtain CLass III weapons. The value on fully automatic weapons may have increased, and, like you, I agree criminals would desperately want them, but you don’t see a lot of machine gun violence in the U.S. since the 1920s. Having just come from Mexico City, south of the border is a whole other world.
Once again I agree with you, but like in the military the “what if” game can take us anywhere?
What if he had raised 500 rabid cats and set them free in a retirement community?
The ban on cat’s discussion will be a long hard fight for us all.
Evil exists in our world, guns and games do not cause this, poor parenting, people too afraid to say that someone else has a problem and a general lack of the feeling of community cause this. Combating this type of evil will take time, education and responsible citizens.
Gun bans do not work, unless you want to be a dictator. I know 1000 people have said that Switzerland has a rifle and ammunition in every house and have a ridiculously low violent crime rate. Is it because of the firearms or the education that is mandated?
I just wanted to say that I agree with you John. Education, for students, parents, teachers, staff and every citizen of our nation.
FYI I’m a little old Disabled Lady.. and I own a Registered M203 40mm Grenade Launcher along with various Full Auto Machineguns. I do not use them for Sporting Purposes or Hunting. I own them because it’s my right. When was the last time you read a report where someone was Bayoneted to death in the US or Blown up with a Grenade Launcher ? None. Yet these are some of those cosmetic features that were banned in the last Assault Rifle Ban… All this talk has done is cleared the Gunshop shelves of Assault Rifles and Standard Capacity Magazines… yes Standard.Capacity magazine for an AR15 is 30 rounds. It would not be a wise move on the part of Congress and the Senate to try to legistate 60 million new criminals… we as a nation cannot afford it.
Proud Patriot and Citizen.
Wow! Maybe the best comment yet. More power to you!
Best comment indeed (bow down)
Thank you Brad, this is genuinely helpful and informative. I think you’ll see that magazine capacity will definitely be part of any upcoming legislation.
For those of us outside the gun culture–i.e. living in a large U.S. city, where guns usually only touch our lives in their function as murder weapons or police weapons–it’s hard for me to understand some of your perspective on automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
Can you explain the reason semi-automatic weapons are necessary for hunting, or for target shooting? Weren’t these things accomplished just fine before the era of the semi-automatic?
And why is a double-barreled shotgun not sufficient as a home defense tool?
A few seconds during reloading of a ten-round clip as the only edge we unarmed people have against a well-armed movie theatre shooter who’s 30 feet away–it’s so little to offer us as the one and only “solution” to this problem. To rush him when he also has a loaded sidearm?
Please explain the function of semi-automatic weapons that makes them so valuable that those of us in cities have to live under this continuing plague. And sorry if that sounds rhetorical or moralistic–I’m literally asking these questions because I believe you may know a few answers.
The simple answer is that a double-barreled shotgun has only two shots. In a gunfight, during darkness, with extreme stress, two shots may not be enough. I made a line at 10 rounds based on the 94 ban, but, as you can read in other comments, plenty of others state that even 10 is not enough. You just don’t know how many people are going to enter your house or attempt to carjack your car. And that is the crux both with semi auto and the magazine capacity. I, personally, have a USP 40 with two loaded magazines that hold 13 but I keep at 10 simply because it sits, day after day, waiting on the bad man, and I don’t want the magazine springs to become slack, causing a malfunction. The odds of a pack of armed people entering my house are remote. But remote isn’t zero, as plenty of news reports can attest. My argument about magazine capacity isn’t that large magazines are evil. It’s that there’s a trade-off I’m willing to make based on what I see. Connecticut had a horrible tragedy in Sandy Hook, but that same state also had a horrible tragedy in 2007 when Dr. William Petit had his wife and two daughters gang-raped then burned alive while he was tied up in the basement. The men who did that were intent on destruction, and both were armed. I would want more than two rounds from a double-barrel. In the end, we look at the situation from two diametrically opposing positions: You describe the semi-auto as a continuing plague. I describe it as my protector, and the plague is the criminal intent on doing me harm.
As for target shooting, if you’re truly interested, I’d invite you to check out the US Practical Shooting Association website. http://www.uspsa.org There are huge numbers of people who use semi-automatic weapons on a daily basis for all sorts of shooting competitions, from rifle to pistol to shotgun to all three combined. As I stated in the blog, one nut-job should not induce a knee-jerk reaction banning an entire class of weapons based on emotion alone.
Thanks for the questions! I’m sure others will weigh in with more examples.
Thanks Brad, We need smart people like you in the discussions on Capitol hill that will be going on forever now. Years ago while watching the reports from the Gulf War, I noticed a lot of videos from our troops. A lot of videos of violent acts, with our troops laughing while they shot people. It was disturbing , and there were a lot of them that went viral. At the same time our youth at home , while playing video games, started getting into the more violent games coming on the market. Now we have all these new games that can make it so real looking , it bothers me that we as a society glorify except this as ok ? I understand people say this about movies too, but video games put ” you ” in the action. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these murderers that are non-sociable were into gaming, and just wanted the “real” game. I think this country is in need of a very real mental health system soon. But we know that won’t happen until we stop the flow of tax dollars that help all the countries that hate us anyway…. ( but that’s a whole different story )…..
Brad, thanks for the time and effort you put into this article, it should go a long way to explaing the techinical issues and the falicy of “Assault Weapon Bans”. One thing that most people tend to ignore is the false argument of the “Sporting Issue”. Our Second Amendment was never designed to protect the rights of the citizenry to continue to hunt or participate in 3 gun matches. It was written to balance the power between citizens and an abusive and tyranical government, as such, IMHO a ban on Hi-cap magazines goes against the original intent of the Second Amendment.
Like all others I was and continue to be sickened by last weeks tragedy, I have a granddaughter in first grade and a granson in preschool. Just like operating in Iraq, we are often attacked by wicked men who after firing a shot from the sniper rifle, or detinating an IED, slip away unseen and leaving us frustrated at the lack of a legitimate and identifiable target to retaliate on. We all know about soldiers who allowed their responses to be dictated by frustration and emotion….the rest us paid the price of their actions.
I don’t think that magazine capacity is the issue either, it is yet another red herring. Remember Virginia Tech? I’m sure you do, to date the most deadly school shooting i believe, he used many magazines and is reported to have changed mags in his ten round pistol some reports say more than ten times. I don’t think that having larger capacity would have made him any more lethal. Then we can go to the Clackamas shooting where he had “large capacity magazines and was only able to kill 2 people. Basically what it comes down to is where there is a will there is a way. most all murderous shooters steal their weapons and mags, so new laws will not do anything to slow or stop these crimes in my opinion.
Firearms licenses? Every other gun-owning country requires gun licenses, and often after both written and practical tests. Does the 2nd Amendment preclude these? They are sensible, a way to screen out criminals, loonies and the incompetent. They are managed by the gun owning fraternity (who else is going to run the practical tests?) They can be revoked and weapons confiscated from those who break conditions of ownership (violent crime, spousal abuse, etc). Also, storage laws. “All firearms must be stored (a) without ammunition and (b) behind two levels of security: either disabled and in a locked cabinet, or in a locked cabinet in a locked room, to which an unlicensed person has no access.” (keeps kids from shooting themselves with dad’s gun… a large proportion of gun deaths from this) and can still be achieved in a way which allows home defence. Provisions for working guns in rural areas (critically, outside of the urban areas where coyotes are not a prime worry), etc. It seems we’re talking about nuclear options (the foolish assault weapons bans) instead of sensible policy. I also like mag cap laws. Anyway, great article, Mr. Taylor, cheers.
Mr. Taylor, this is a very intelligent article and what I like best about it is how you avoided the “noise” when it comes to the issue of gun ownership rights and treated your thoughs as an educational process. As an avid hunter and as an individual that takes my gun ownership with a huge sense of responsibility, I wanted to add the following to the discussion. Unfortunately, as much as I and many others, including both liberals and conservatives (and the middle of the road folks), would like for these unfortunate events to never happen, I see no real end to them simply because we are all very different in our thinking and on how we approach our lives in general; however, having said that, I do not give myself up, nor do I feel that any law abiding citizen in our great country should give up in trying to 1) possibly eliminate these events or 2) at least do our best to minimize them from happening. As hard as this may sound to accomplish, the individuals with common sense far outweigh those individuals who are wreckless and I feel we should continue to educate people who own guns and those that do not. While I was reading through the thread of comments, I read one of the bloggers mention something that crossed my mind as the events in Newtown were developing, “what if several of these un-armed teachers and/or administrators knew a little about how guns worked, just maybe, someone could have confronted this murderer while he was changing a clip or switching guns”. I am not saying this would have stopped what happened but maybe it could have minimize the carnage. Lastly, at least with this article, the discussion is open and hopefully it will get into the mainstream news and to our governments officials…by the way, and like Mr. Taylor, I hope this last comment is not treated as a cop-out but I too feel that large capacity magazines do not have a place in the civilian side of the world.
Thank you very much for the information. This was also helpful for me to understand and confirm what I knew about what is going on.
I live in California, I just started as a gun enthusiast and I enjoy target shooting with my family and friends.
I agree with you that there is no need in a larger magazine with 10 rounds, I’m enjoying my time at the range and have plenty of time to reload. And as you mentioned, if you know how to shoot, 10 rounds are more than enough for self defense.
I just wanted to leave a comment about the fact that in the case of the tragedy of Sandy Hook, the killer had other guns (glock and sig), if those were also loaded with (for example) 10 rounds each, even if his rifle had a limit of 10 rounds, he would still have 30 rounds total to shoot without a reload. I know that trained soldier can draw a secondary weapon very fast. But even for an untrained person, drawing another gun is faster than reloading one.
My ultimate fear is to see law makers limit the round capacity of all firearms to 1 or 2 rounds (I’m just kidding here) but if the mag capacity is our best shot, a killer could always carry more than one or two weapons.
Whole article is fantastic, except… the magazine thing.
Magazine changes absolutely slow down a bad guy. Problem is, they slow me down too. There are many documented cases where high capacity magazines, sometimes more than one, were used to defend against multiple armed assailants. See one example here: http://www.captainsjournal.com/2012/08/29/no-one-needs-ars-for-self-defense-or-hunting/
On the one hand you state how difficult it is for someone to make an emergency reload in a gunfight but then assume most people are proficient enough to need fewer than ten rounds to effectively defend themselves. Even against a single assailant, I would argue it is just as challenging, if not more, to change a magazine as it is to shoot accurately and effectively while under duress. Not to mention the fact that it can require multiple hits to incapacitate an attacker. I’ve never been in a gunfight. If the courses I’ve taken are any indication, however, it is not easy to get solid hits, let alone reload, when speed is critical, your pulse is pounding, and people are screaming at you. I certainly don’t want to be arbitrarily handicapped when my life is on the line.
JJ, very well written response. I would only ask if you would consider only providing 10 round magazines to our troops in combat? or to our police officers? Again, if we look at the original intent of the Founding Fathers, the Second Amendment does not exist to protect our rights to hunt or participate in shooting competitions. How can we expect that new gun laws will have any effect when we don’t fully enforce the laws currently on the books. Prior to the Virginia Tech shooting, it was illegal to sell a a gun to someone who had been adjudicated as metally ill. A review of the VT shooting revealed a glaring lack of sharing of information that would have “popped up” on the NCIC’s background check and prevented the shooter from purchasing guns. In the aftermath, new legislation was adopted to supposedly address that deficiency. We now are learning that there still lacks any conprehensive sharing of information. I am furthermore disturbed by the Fast & Furious program in which ATF walked guns to Mexican cartels without propper oversight or the knowledge of the Mexican government.
Last night it was revealed that a gun purchased by the 2nd in charge of the Phoenix ATF office was recovered at a murder scene in Mexico….this was a personal purchase by him…further information reveals that he provided inaccurate information on the ATF Form 4473 indicating his office address as his home address on several gun purchases. Let us first concentrate on better implementation of existing laws as well as address our mental health practices before we limit the rights of law abidding citizens.
Absolutely not Arrow 4, that is why at the end I mentioned that there was no place for large capacity magazines in the civilian side of the world. Our law enforcement at all levels needs everything at their disposal when dealing with the “bad” guys…now figuring out how not to get these high capacity mags into those hands is the challenge for all of us.
Enjoyed the read, share many of the same sentiments you do. I fear common sense suggestions such as yours (which I truly feel has merit) will simply be dismissed by those we send to DC as ramblings. There are a lot of thoughtful responses here, but I truly believe unless we can convince our officials that the tool is not the problem, it’s what is done with it. We will see evil deeds blamed on tools and an uneducated populace swallow whatever misguided politically motivated message is shared. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Hope you and yours are well.
Wasn’t specfor, was an 11b. It astonishes me to see the gaps in knowledge on this issue within the armed forces itself. My brother is a combat medic, and has no idea what 9/10ths of this means.
The sad fact is this: With a dad who was Army, I grew up knowing the proper use and safety related to firearms. You can come in my house and put a red weapon on my table, the chamber will be cleared, mag released, and everything properly secured. The issue is education.
My drill sergeant said it perfect. “Don’t be afraid, be prepared. GO walk around Atlanta at night alone, but be smart enough to bring your knife with you and have your boots tied. Fear will kill you, preparation will save everyone around you.”
JJ, I was first trained with an M16 in 1980 and have carried some version of that as either a soldier (In Iraq) or as a police officer for the past 32 years. How does banning me and other law abiding citizens make our society any safer? Our constitution does not guarantee us the right to posses simply what we “Need”, otherwise let’s ban any vehicle that can drive faster than the max speed limit, or private ownership of airplanes and any other object that does not pass the “Need for existance” test.
Great piece. The first step in this discussion is about defining terms so we can speak intelligently about firearms. I’m in California where assault weapons are banned by definition. People need to understand what constitutes an assault weapon before they say assault weapons should be banned because at least here in CA, most features that make an assault weapon are cosmetic and do nothing for stopping crime. We are creative about coming up with alternatives that still allow us to comply with the law.
Brad, I am also a Veteran and a gun enthusiast as yourself. I agree with almost everything you wrote. The one aspect I don’t think you really covered and what I myself use in a lot of the debates that I have been involved in recently is the simple fact that the only people effected by laws are law abiding citizens. The criminals will still be able to get their hands on any weapon that is banned or on any size magazine that is banned. So as I see it, the only thing a law or ban will do is give some uninformed/ lack of common sense individuals the warm and fuzzy feeling. That is until someone physically hurts someone they personally know then they will scream and yell to the highest person(s) possible to ban every weapon on the face of the earth.
It’s not the criminals who are going into schools (or theaters, or shopping malls, or churches, or… you get the picture) and committing mass murder. I don’t believe the people who are committing these crimes – which are, in fact, the source of all of this debate – have the foggiest idea of how to get their hands on illegal weapons. They get their hands on whatever they have easy access to, and what will do the most damage until they (almost inevitably) take their own cowardly lives. I’m not worried about getting held up by some guy on a dark corner with a Bushmaster and a 30 round clip. Therefore, in my mind at least, the “Criminals will get them” argument is a non-starter.
A person who makes up his mind to kill is, by legal definition, a criminal. The Columbine shooters spent hundreds of dollars, used straw purchasers, modified their weapons, and created dozens of IED’s, committing several felonies before they even entered the school. That doesn’t sound like the person you’re describing.
After getting past my knee-jerk reaction of “Nobody’s gonna tell me what size magazine I can own!”, you make a very good point. I agree that no average person owning a semi-automatic weapon has any use for a high capacity magazine….If more than 30 rounds are needed for defense, either there are MUCH bigger things at play, or they have no business owning or operating that weapon.
That being said, and given the founding intentions of the second amendment, I find it disconcerting that responsible, law-abiding, mentally stable citizens cannot have access to the arms that our government has available to them.
So, why not allow people to own high capacity magazines, but require them to register with the ATF to do so, exactly like they have to do with all other class 3 weapons?
Wow. Don’t have a specific response at this time to your blog, but this one topic has certainly produced more comments than any of the others to date that I have seen. And understandably so in view of the event and the emotions involved in this absolute tragedy. Always appreciate your trying to being completely objective on these topics and at times playing ‘devil’s advocate.’
The term “high capacity magazine” is a misnomer, a completely political term, just like “assault weapon”. These items are more properly called “standard capacity magazines”.
And the problem with banning them? There are literally tens of thousands of them already on the market. Banning them won’t make them go away, it won’t stop people using them. It also won’t stop them being sold- because Congress will allow an exemption to their purchase to law enforcement agencies and Federal agencies across the country. Why does a highly trained police officer, with back up from lots of armed colleagues, need a 30 round magazine? How about a home owner facing a gang of armed home invaders- is he to be forced to reload after 10 shots?
When a disaster (like Katrina or the LA riots) hits again, and people are left to defend their homes and neighborhoods, why should they be denied access to a standard capacity magazine?
One last point- if Adam Lanza had used 10 round magazines would he have killed less people? He had 20 minutes in the school before police arrived and was shooting defenceless children- none of them were going to stop him if he paused to reload (and let’s not forget he shot each child multiple times- he could just as easily have killed as many with less shots fired).
The only proven method of stopping a spree killer thus far has been a good guy with a gun at the scene. The Aurora shooter had a choice of 7 cinemas close to his home- he chose the one furthest away, the only one which prevented its patrons from carrying guns.
Lanza is a man who stole the guns he used, murdered his mother and then shot 20 children- I can’t even conceive of the evil required to point a gun at a 6 year old child and pull the trigger. What kind of monster can do that over and over again? Another law isn’t going to stop someone like that- he’s just going to break it too, or use another tool- multiple handguns, for example. And isn’t that the point of Biden’s group- to try to PREVENT another massacre? How is denying a type of weapon or magazine to millions of law abiding citizens going to stop the kind of madman who can brutally murder children? Laws mean nothing to them- mass murder is already illegal and as Lanza proved- when he couldn’t buy what he wanted, he killed and stole what he needed.
Try millions. 30 round magazines are the most manufactured AR magazine in the world.
Dudes, stop obsessing about mag caps. Start considering things like licensing after testing as a means for keeping firearms out of criminals and the mentally ill.
As simple as a 10 mag size limit seems how much of a deterent is that really? You know what any avg person would do then, carry 2 guns instead of 1. Much easier to pull another and keep firing then reload or have 2 out and simply switch to a dominant hand when the need arises. I say if guns are the issue then the most important question is why do we use weaopons as our choice to solve the worlds issues? I would support one ban and one only, every gun in the world. No gov’t guns, no personal guns, no military guns, none. Penalty for carrying one, life in prison. Although I have never had to use my handgun or hunting rifle to defend myself I will not reduce my chances of protecting myself when the people I may have to defend against have unlimited resources.
Thank you. That cleared up a lot of questions I had.
Brad I loved your Article..As a son of a Sheriff Deputy I agree with you 99 % .I believe in the 2nd Amendment .I have had access to guns all my life and coming from a big school in upstate NY had my share of bullies…Guns do not kill people ..People kill people..It is a great tragedy and my heart goes out to all the families..I have had a talk with my children 4 boys and 2 girls that I hunt with that if you put a AR 15 cocked and loaded safety off on our kitchen table and another person touched that gun again it would not kill ANYONE …It would turn to rust and fade away..The American people need to get back their common sense and stop blaming the gun its how we raise our children..We could be like Britain and outlaw guns unless you are very rich…But thats what makes us the United States of America that so many 100s of thousands gave their life for..Keep up the good work. …. William A Carey Jr Pennsylvania
My last comments on this thread. I was in a sporting goods store Thursday morning and saw they were giving numbers to customers waiting at the gun counter, they were serving number 90 and the ticket count was over one hundred. The AR15 clones were gone. I was at a police uniform and supply store Friday and they had sold all of their AR15s. People are voting with their wallets.
The next point that of all the mass shootings I have read about in the past couple of decades the one thing that seems to occur most often is that from the first moment the shooter encounters armed opposition they retreat and either surrender or kill themselves. They seem not mentally prepared for an actual gunfight. The recurring mention of body armor worn by them is often retracted in later reports.
The exception I can think of right off hand are the two Hollywood bank robbers, who were in the professional criminal class of offender and not in the class of offender looking for notoriety or revenge against society.
And that was an incident in which the officers needed as much magazine capacity as they could get.
Great artical, however new iformation suggests hand guns were used at Sandy Hook.
How do we keep banned magazines out of the hands of criminals?
“Unlike investigating the systemic societal problems that underlie each of these horrific events in the first place. ”
Why is this not under discussion. Yes, let’s ban 100 round magazines as a very small step and then disucss this. Without name-calling – which is indicative of a weak argument and feeling threatened rather than holding a belief that is so sensible that it should be obvious to everyone. Obviously, it’s not.
So, what about those societal problems, including lack of funding of teachers to pay attention to the signs of trouble in students? Not to mention taking care of diagnosed mental health problems. Or people just feeling so abused and threatened by the current culture and economics that they feel they have nothing left to lose.
There will always be bank robbers and distressed soon-to-be-ex-husbands – can’t help those. But it’s the mass murders in the schools and malls by marginalized people we can address. Let’s have that conversation. Let’s look indeed at where we put our funding as a society.
I’m fine with banning all those weapons. If we need to go for overkill for a while we should. We should all be willing to make sacrifices to help prevent tragedies like the ones we keep suffering.
Honestly, I have restrained myself from replying to most of the posts, but REALLY? More death and destruction occurs on a daily basis in this country, none dealing with “assault weapons”, yet none also make the news because it’s not sexy. Killing someone with a knife just doesn’t rate. One guy with a brain problem kills a bunch of kids and now it’s the weapons fault. Let’s not look at what caused the issue. Let’s look at the tool. This makes no logical sense in my mind. Please, before you make such a blanket statement, read this: http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf
Murder is murder, and the tool is just that – a tool. You’d do better saying we should ban all weapons, period. Why should someone own a machete? It could kill. You’d say, “Come on, yeah, it could, but let’s get real. It’s not a weapon of mass destruction.” I’d say that in Rwanda in 1994 the Hutu’s managed to kill more Tutsis per day than the Nazi death machine did at the height of world war II. With the death camps in full swing. How did most of that happen? By Machete.
Has anyone looked at Rwanda and focused on the machete? Of course not. Obviously, that wasn’t the issue. We need to quit focusing on the the tool and look to the reasons behind the tragedy. Sorry. I promised myself I’d stay away from the symptomatic causes of Sandy Hook and stick with the futility of the ban. But you raised the question.
Oh, so smaller magazines would make less deadly guns, but now machetes are just as dangerous as machine guns? Come on now, your article was well written, but now you are just ranting. On December 14 there was a mass attack at a school in china. 23 injured, 0 dead. ZERO. The difference? The attacker used a knife. No one who is for gun control thinks that banning guns is the only solution. It should also be harder to get legal guns. We need to address mental health services and the socioeconomic aspects of gun violence as well. If we look at how other developed countries have successfully addressed the problem, gun control is clearly part of the solution. Let’s not compare ourselves to Rwanda and Nazi Germany. Let’s instead compare ourselves to Canada and modern Germany.
Touche. That was a little bit of a rant, but I truly don’t believe banning guns is the answer. My magazine argument is for this SPECIFIC type of event, not crime in general. I personally don’t think a magazine restriction will do anything for “ordinary” crime (neither will banning guns – look at my link), but it will help when someone is determined to kill a lot of people just for the sake of killing. Someone with mental issues who wants to kill will find a way, as Timothy McVeigh did, and banning guns will have no impact on the act. Honestly, I’m waiting on the first suicide bomber at a school – not from terrorism, but from someone with mental health issues and a death wish. As for comparing ourselves to Canada and Germany,and stating that gun control is “clearly part of the solution”, please read the Harvard link I gave. It does exactly that and concludes – much better than I could articulate – that there is no correlation between gun ownership and crime. You ding me for my Rwanda example, stating it was hyperbole, but I could do the same with your Chinese example. Don’t say I’m picking a case that has no merit, then do exactly that.
The primary issue in the gun control debate is precisely that people like yourself don’t use firearms, and thus don’t see any need for them – only seeing the bad. It’s an old argument, but cars kill more than guns and nobody talks about banning them. Why? Because EVERYONE sees the utility of owning a vehicle and thus doesn’t equate the tool with the destruction. The same with just about any other weapon, such as a knife. If there were a push to ban knives, everyone would say, “yeah, that’s bad that he was stabbed to death, but I use my knives legitimately on a daily basis to make dinner.” In the gun debate, the only ones saying that are the people who own guns – and they feel exactly the same as the average american who owns a car. The other side, not owning or using firearms at all, sees only the downside and is more than willing to give up their right to own one. The true argument should be whether gun control would have any effect on crime, which is why I included the Harvard study.
I guess I spoke too soon. This from the UK about banning long kitchen knives to decrease “violence”. Yeah, that’s the solution!
The real issue is that so-called “assault weapons” are rarely used in crime.
Full-capacity magazines are not weapons. They are feeding devices. The weapons banned in the AW ban are all shotguns and rifles.
The FBI maintains a count of all weapons used in violent crime, and the categories of murder-by-rifle and murder-by-shotgun (for example) account for a very small number of murders.
Proof? Here is is:
The FBI does not specify if a rifle is an “AK47” type or a single-shot Marlin .22, so you never know. However, it is instructive that even if ALL rifles used in murder were AK47s and AR15s (i.e. “assault weapons”) that would only account for about 2.5% of murders. Likewise similar numbers with shotguns.
The technical issues are useful, but beyond correcting people over and over that these rifles are NOT machine guns (i.e. fully automatic) which was the exact intent in the early 1990s — to bamboozle the public into thinking that 1) the “assault weapons” are all machine guns and 2) that they are common in crime, not very helpful to the discussion.
What is helpful is reminding people, over and over, that they are rarely used in crime at all. More people are murdered using knives or BARE HANDS than with ALL rifles or ALL shotguns combined.
The vast majority of gun murder/violent crime is handguns — of all kinds. A more sensible ban would therefore be a pistol magazine capacity ban, however, various studies have looked at the number of rounds expended in gunfights and found the mean to be around 5.5 (6) however, the mode (the most common) was 1. Limiting pistol magazines to 10 rounds would not appreciably reduce death and mayhem since most criminals either die or walk away from the gunfight with 4-5 rounds remaining with a 10 round magazine.
How to make a real difference?
1. Pass safe storage laws. You have to prove possession of a safe/approved storage before buying a gun. (hard to implement, but imho worth it). Safe storage should be the rule.
2. Pass automatic sentence enhancement of 10 years when convicted of any violent crime with a gun in possession. KABA is a right, if you abuse it, you should pay dearly. if the underlying crime is only a 5 year sentence, too bad, you should have thought about that before carrying a gun.
3. I could be swayed to support the FOID that Illinois uses, but not on a per-gun basis and not as a form of registration. IT would work like a driver license — you have to get the FOID to use or buy something, but having the FOID doesn’t mean you own anything. You’d have to have the FOID to rent a gun at a range, for example, unless the rental was a supervised training session. The FOID would have a training requirement. I am open to this idea because it does NOT require registration. You get the FOID and may buy one gun or 1 thousand. Or none. Point is, it creates a minimum level of knowledge for use and the legal issues of owning a gun.
I think this video pretty much sums it up :
Please stop blaming inanimate objects and the media for acts of violence like in Conneticut.
If you do, you have absolutely no clue, or are simply too afraid to search for the solution in the right place.
It’s our current society with dysfunctional families,,abuse, broken homes and prescription drug culture that is causing a lot of problems. The lack of positive role models, the lack of the right kind of attention (or an excessive amount of the WRONG kind of attention), it all builds up inside people, especially children. Never ever underestimate the importance of a young child’s life. Because that child can grow up into a monster if not looked after properly.
The worst thing you can do to a child is make him consider using prescription anti-depression drugs, or make him think consider getting his attention in a violent way. Guns are simply the tools that these extremely disturbed people are using to vent their frustration against the society that made them that way.
You can ban weapons all you want, make us fight our wars with sticks & stones ( like Einstein once predicted), that isn’t going to change anything unless the effort is made to mend our own society. Blaming it simply on guns & “closing the case” like that is just looking for an easy way out. Just sharing my 2 cents here.
P.S. Which sniper rifle is the one in the 2nd picture from the top ? That is one sexy looking weapon. Same can be said for the tactical Mini 14.
This article also (wrongly) suggests 10 round magazines as a standard size. The fact is, there are more 30 round magazines than any other capacity in production. That means, by very definition of the word “standard”, that 30 round magazines should be protected under the SCOTUS ruling in Columbia v. Keller, where the ruling was that it is unconstitutional to ban any firearms that are commonly used for self defense. Therefore, the previous ban was unconstitutional, as is this upcoming one.
Wonderful article and lots of great comments. Like most people, i too have been in many discussions recently about the issues surrounding these tragic events, and inevitably the issue of gun control. While i disagree with the mag cap concession, i readily acknowledge the legitimate arguments in its favor. My concerns with it are two-fold: first, as Col. Taylor rightly points out, a magazine change can create an opportunity for reprisal by the intended victim. My issue is that such opportunity is not limited to those seeking to stop a mad gunman in a public setting, but also would aid a home invader seeking to harm an adrenalin overloaded homeowner trying to defend themselves. Second, as i believe was addressed by Todd, Dave B., and Ed… where does it stop? I work in the legal community and spend all too much time trying to decipher well intended legislation and deal with inevitable unintended consequences – a point this article demonstrates very well. But the greater issue of the now cliche’d “slippery slope” argument cannot be ignored. The example i’ve used with friends recently is the current state of anti-smoking laws acroos our Country. They began as small concessions, schools and churches – “that’s reasonable, we can live with that”; flights less than two-hours “okay, i can see their point”; and look where we are now. But that’s good, you say, “smoking is bad for you”. Fine, but is that to be the only test? High sugar and fat content foods are bad for you. Stress is bad for you. My point is not to ignore problems, but to acknowledge differing opinions on them, respect the rights of others to those opinions, and keep the legislature out of it to the greatest extent possible. The people pushing hardest for more gun restrictions would prefer no guns at all, just as those who pushed for smoking restrictions prefer no smoking at all, and they will get there – by moving slowly. Evil cannot be leglisated away, and anyone who believes ill-conceived laws can’t be ill-used against good people is a bit naive, imho. Similarly, while i also agree that mental health issues are at the core of the most publicized recent attacks, trying to regulate that is really going to get tricky. You think it’s tough defining “assault weapons”? Give “mental problems” a try. It’s like the desire to limit the rights of “stupid people” – Where do you draw the line? Human nature defines it for each of us individually – it’s a moving line that starts about 10 IQ points below our own. But again, great article and thanks for your past and current service to our Country sir. Love your books, btw – keep them coming please.
Any person that thinks that a ban or mag restriction would stop any of this has their head planted squarely in their fourth point of contact. I commend you Mr. Taylor for your explanation on the differences and operation of semi auto weapons. Most people do not fully understand enough about guns to make an informed comment or decision. How many mag changes would one have to perform with four semi auto 10 round pistols? None.
The only thing that can stop a Bad person with a gun is a Good person with a gun, nothing else will work. I served in Iraq and Rowanda and first hand witnessed the atrocities of humans. I have seen groups of young men kill whole villages with machetes and axes. Not one round fired. Your idea of mag restrictions will in my opinion will do nothing but what every other gun control restriction will do and that is my restrict my ability to protect family, community, and property.
I live in Louisiana, my sister was trapped in New Orleans during katrina the only thing that kept her from being raped and murdered in her own home by five attackers was an Ak47 with the ever so deadly 30 rd mag. It took only 4 days for civilization to collapse to this point. Don’t think you will never need more than a 10 rd mag. This is a lot more complex than most understand. Most people have never really seen or felt true evil.
A good post on the technical problems with “gun bans”. Three points to add to the discussion:
The founding fathers did have a revolution in firearms taking place during the war; rifled muskets capable of hitting targets at ten times the range of the standard issue smooth-bore arms of the rank and file soldier were in play and yet there is no exclusion of these highly asymmetrical force firearms in the Second Amendment or the ancillary papers of the authors and signers of the constitution.
Madison, the principal author of The Constitution, lived to see the introduction of the Colt Patterson revolver. There is nothing in his papers about revulsion at this dramatic increase in the ability to deal death.
Third, my family is from the rural south and many are farmers. Coyotes and feral dog packs are the bane of any sort of livestock. The tool of choice for dealing with these pests is a semi-auto rifle with a box magazine, a LARGE box magazine since you will have a limited time to deal with as many of them as possible. The Mini-14, AR or AK variant with a 30-round magazine is not uncommon in the farm truck rifle rack or on the tractor.
Quote of the day….I’m in favor of gun control. Invade my house and find out how well I control my gun…..Bob Lance
Brad, Nice article. There is one point which I would think you should expand on. You make the statement:
“It’s the weapon operation itself that delivers the devastation, not what it looks like. For instance, this is the Ruger Mini 14 in two different configurations.”
However, I don’t quite agree with you. I would be willing to bet that a well operating lever action rifle could put almost as many rounds down range as a marginal semi-automatic. In fact, even if that’s not true, if the lever action is only 80% efficient (8 rounds down range vs. 10 for the semi), it is still strikingly lethal. There are even cases of well trained and practiced individuals exceeding the semi-auto. Look at the “cowboy shooters”.
What’s more, it looks benign.
Now expand this to a precision bolt action with a 10 round capacity such as the M1. A skilled operator of the M1 can get quite a number of rounds down range.
Good article on how typical gun ban laws take away a gun the is legitimately being used for other purposes. But when guns are banned it doesn’t stop people who break the law from getting them and gun free zones are the best place for these types to start a killing spree. And if guns didn’t exist they would make homemade bombs and if you are concerned about the number of deaths per year you need to start at banning alcohol and cars.
You’re missing the point when it comes to magazines,who decides what a high capacity magazine is? What you refer to as a high capacity magazine,I refer to as a normal capacity magazine,if 15.16,or 17 rounds of ammo will fit in the handle of my 9mm semi auto pistol,then I consider that a normal capacity magazine.Both sides are going to have to reach an agreement on what a high capacity mag is,what an assault weapon is,ect.,ect. and work from there,if there is no consensus on what the standards are then nothing will ever get done.Giving these weapons a bad name because a few people don’t like some particular aspect of a weapon is moronic and non productive.The gun grabbers have only one goal and that is to disarm Americans one gun feature at a time,if we can reach a consensus on the length of a gun barrel,why can’t we reach a consensus on the capacity of a magazine? Lets start with a 30 round magazine and work from there,personally,I prefer a 20 round mag in my mini 14 but that’s just me,the gun grabbers would insist that I have a 5 round mag and wouldn’t be satisfied with that after a couple of years.Lets just say a 20 round mag is normal and keep it at that,as for pistols,whatever the pistol grip will hold and nothing over that,if the mag sticks out of the pistol,then it’s a large capacity magazine.Everybody has there own ideas on what features we should have on our guns,that is the problem,if plumbing and electricity were like that,it would be pure chaos,there should be a bureau of standards for weapons and once the standards are met,neither side should be allowed to screw with them.
hmmm. So you’re good with 10 rd mags? Great point that it gives an opportunity to respond for the victims. But a 5 rd mag would give more opportunities and give those opportunites sooner… Hey, I know…why not a 1 round mag? Who decides what is needed for a self defensive situation? 5 bad guys enter your home with ill intent…, with you’re skillset, you quickly realize after the first controlled pair into body armor you reassess and recognize the need for head shots. After dispatching bad guy #1 with the required head shot you now have 7 rounds left to make 3 more head shots in a dynamic situation. No doubt you could pull that off, but I’m starting to not like my odds. Also, I’m curious your definition of “infringed”… That said, I concur with regards to drums, but be careful… slope is getting slippery. Just my two cents…
Good article, accept for one thing.
Definition of an assault rifle:
“An assault rifle is a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine”
AR-15 is not select fire. Nor are any of the examples above. Once you step into that realm of select fire, IE: Full Auto, it is a whole other class of firearm, that your average Joe can’t walk in off the street to buy, as you have to be licensed up the wazoo to possess.
As far as limiting magazine capacity, we have that here in Canada. Centerfire semi-auto rifles are limited to 5rnds (which some exceptions such as the M1 Garand). Here’s the problem though, you can still buy a 30rnd mag for your AR15, it just has a 2 cent rivet driven into the magazine to limit it to a 5rnd capacity. So what is the first thing someone is going to do if they get it in their head to commit a mass shooting, duh, drill out the rivets, and restore the mags to their full capacity.
Other ways to get around that rule her as well. In Canada, magazine fed pistols are limited to 10rnds. Well guess what, they make an AR15 based pistol. Registered as a pistol, you can have 10rnd mags for it, which will also fit the rifle version of the AR15 (as they are the same weapon mechanically, just the pistol doesn’t have a shoulder stock), Take that one step further, and there is a version of the AR15 called the Beowulf .50cal. Magazine holds 5rnds .50 Beowulf, but it will also hold 15rnds of 5.56mm, and will fit into normal AR15 rifles.
Rimfire has no magazine restrictions, (unless it is a pistol and still limited to 10rnds), and for the most part that is still true, but they have made any magazine for the Ruger 10/22 over 10rnds illegal, why? Because the 10/22 pistol can also accept the 25, 30, 50, etc, round magazines that the rifle accepts (as of course again the 10/22 pistol, is just the rifle with a shorter barrel and no shoulder stock). Crappy part of it is though, if someone was caught with a magazine more than 10rnds in the pistol, they are already breaking the law, because all pistols are limited to 10rnds, but instead of that being good enough, they punish those that have the larger capacity mags for the 10/22 rifles, even though the rifle and the mags have been around since well before the pistol ever came out.
You should try shooting a real gun first before complaining about them, you ****.
Not sure how to reply to this. Did you, in fact, read my bio? I’ve shot “real guns” in combat for years. I own four AR variants along with a plethora of other weapons. But I’m sure you’re much more versed in the use of firearms than me, because you’re on the internet. In the esteemed words of Dan Aykroyd in Spies Like Us, “We mock what we do not understand.”