One of the most talked about components of gun control legislation is a magazine capacity limit. Proponents of gun control will often question why anyone needs more than X number of rounds (often 10) in their magazine. This is usually answered with a response about how it isn’t about what we “need” or with an analogy like “why does anyone need a car that goes faster than the speed limit.” Both of these answers are true. It is not about what we need – it is our birth right to keep and bear arms. However, just because it is our right doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need. There certainly is a need.
Many of the people who are proposing this legislation have an agenda beyond public safety so they are unlikely to listen to reason. However, there may be those who you come across in your everyday life that genuinely do want to know why someone might need magazine capacities of 10 or more. Much of their misunderstanding of why these higher capacities can be dispelled by addressing 3 main misconceptions/preconceived notions about the nature of terminal ballistics and what really happens in a gunfight:
- People die immediately upon being shot.
- It is easy to shoot a moving person.
- You will face only a single attacker.
Many people, whether they realize it or not, are basing their perceptions of the “need” for larger capacity magazines based on these misconceptions/preconceived notions. These notions come from a number of sources but mostly from the various forms of media that we consume. Of course, it may also be true that they have never really given it much (if any) thought. Either way, this is a chance for the informed gun owner to politely engage someone in a conversation about the real world.
People Die Immediately Upon Being Shot
You can blame Hollywood for this one. The good guy shoots the bad guy and, in moments, the bad guy is crumpled over dead right there.
People survive gunshot wounds at a rate of 75-95% (studies vary). This is especially true when a handgun is used. Often, people continue to function after being shot which means that they continue to be a threat. We also know that due to the dynamic nature of a gunfight, most gunshot wounds happen in the extremities which can have little to no effect on a person’s ability to continue to harm you or your family.
If you are being attacked by a determined attacker, you will likely need to shoot more than once. You may even need to shoot more than 10 times to stop an attacker. There are multiple documented cases of people continuing to be a threat even after being shot more than 10 times. The most famous of which is the Miami Shootout of April 11, 1986. This is just one of hundreds.
The reality is that it is far more likely that you will have to shoot a determined attacker multiple times in order to stop them. You cannot predict the number of shots that it will take to incapacitate someone.
It is Easy to Shoot a Moving Person
Again, you can thank Hollywood. The good guys only miss when it is convenient to extend the plot. Characters in movies often don’t even need to use the sights in order to shoot their adversaries.
Here in the real world, it is very hard to hit an attacker that is moving in an unpredictable way. It is even harder to hit an attacker in a way that will produce a stop. Take for instance the recent police action shooting that took place at the Empire State building which actually had a high hit percentage (62.5%) at 10 hits out of 16 shots fired. Various other studies put the hit percentages of large police departments in the range of 27-50% (NY Times, CBS News). These are the same police who gun control proponents hold up as firearm experts with a higher degree of training than the average gun owner. If professionals can miss, so can you. This is especially true with handguns which are difficult to shoot under stress.
The reality of a dynamic situation like a real, live gunfight is that you are going to miss at least some of the time. You cannot afford to give up any capacity in a situation that is as unpredictable as a gun fight.
You Will Face Only a Single Attacker
No one will really say this out loud, but this is the scenario that people envision when they are handing down new gun control legislation. Life isn’t always like an ADT Security commercial where you inadvertently scare off the healthy, well-fed looking guy with 3 days beard growth trying to lift your new flat screen TV.
Violent crimes that involve more than one attacker are not uncommon – in fact, some suggest that they are the rule and not the exception. Homicides involving more than one offender have been trending up since 1980 according to the most recent statistics that I could find (BJS).
The reality is that you may have to defend yourself from multiple attackers. You cannot predict the number of attackers that you might face.
Someone who spends just a modicum of time researching the realities of violent crime, terminal ballistics, and the use of firearms in self defense will find it immediately apparent that magazine capacity limits in any form infringe upon the ability of a legal gun owner to defend themselves. A self-defense scenario is likely to likely to involve multiple attackers that must be shot multiple times each all while you are missing at least a few times (maybe a lot of times). It is that simple.
Again, I know that this won’t make a difference for many of those who propose magazine capacity limits because the magazine capacity limits are merely an incremental step toward their larger goals. However, this might give you some answers beyond the typical ones. It turns out that we DO need high capacity magazines.
So you want to KILL a large number of people moving around…like in a school??
I was in a war zone for 42 months and was a Sharpshooter. We trained to shoot short bursts of three rounds since many more are a waste of ammo. Even nationally, the trained police who shoot a still target has a hit ratio of 38 percent. Where do the miss go? In Utah a lady in the back seat of a auto was killed by a stray bullet.
Moreover, others have been shot who were UNARMED and not a threat; such as the homeowner in Utah who just asked undercover police why they were parked and sitting in their car outside their home. Oh yeah, if he had a gun then he would have killed the police which is what happened in Ogden Utah.
GUNS ARE MADE TO KIIL, AND ONLY TO KILL.
I have had to pick up the remains of innocent people killed by guns. These are the people YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT or count! How about Kent State? Proud of killing several innocent students just walking to class? Yeah! They were a moving target and there were more than one and they who DID NOTHING deserved to DIE!
Great article Matt! Excellent points getting to the real heart of the matter. Unfortunately people are so brainwashed and conditioned through decades of movies, TV, and ideas based on complete misconceptions, that they really have no clue how real life works. As I like to tell my students, it could take none, 1, or everything in the gun and then some. You never know, therefore be as prepared as possible. There are some documented cases of LE shootings out there that would absolutely shock people out there, like multiple LEO’s firing multiple shots, sometimes also including long guns, and the “suspect” continuing to fight and actually even surviving after taking 20, 30, even over 50 shots in a few cases. Human beings are resilient, and you just never know. Bring the most effective gun you can with as much ammo as you can, bring your buddies with guns if possible, and if you can foresee the situation and avoid it beforehand, so much the better.
RE: Survivor — Wow. Just wow. Seek help. Your argument is that we can’t defend ourselves because the government killed 4 people at Kent state or that a Utah homeowner asked undercover cops what they were doing?
What? That is about the most disjunctive argument I’ve ever read.
The article was good and laid out valid points. We citizens have a right to defend ourselves regardless of what an anonymous blogger who claims to be a PTSD suffering vet has to say.
Um…kent state was the military, that’s government agents with military hardware.
Over the last several decades concealed weapon permits becoming “shall issue” has become the rule for most states. Violent crime has declined overall during this period. People carrying a defensive sidearm are NOT carrying a weapon just designed to “kill”. That are carrying a firearm to “live”.
I highly doubt you were “Survivor”. I don’t know what your deal actually is, but I would be willing to bet it sure isn’t what you stated. None of what you said has any flow of realism of experience or any logic to it. Your opening statement betrays you as someone irrational. No one mentioned anything about killing “large numbers of people moving around…like in a school”. The case was made that most people have a falsely structured image based on what they have been fed by media and hollywood of how assaults and gunfights may play out, and do not understand the dynamics of these situations because they have never been in one of them. I would think having spent that much time in a war zone, you would have some understanding of those concepts.
The LA Riots – that was the exact scenario where you need as much ammunition as possible. The Police had pulled out, leaving law-abiding citizens at the hands of the merciless savage mobs.
Hey survivor, want to share stories? My truth is this. I’m 35 yo out of shape guy but still kind strong from my youth (high school days LOL!).
Last summer (07-26-2012) I was shot 3x with an assault rifle point blank (standing about 5ft away) by some young thug trying to rob me from a car window. Guess what???…
After being shot 3x and being thrown back about 10 feet from the burst I GOT UP! They drove off and have never been caught (yet). If I was in GOOD SHAPE “AND” ARMED at the time I can 200% assure you that I would have gone after them, if they didn’t drive off pu**y bast*rds. There were are least two people; a young female driver, a young male passenger shooter, and a potential 1-3 more in the back seat, the windows were tinted, so I really don’t know about that.
Bottom line is that you’re going to need more than a few bullets to STOP DEAD one or more healthy, strong, moving, “attacking” attackers. And to resolve your curiosity I was not shot in some superficial spot, I was shot two times upper center chest and once in the upper right neck that bounced around my chest and exited my upper left side torso. That bounced bullet ripped a hole in my right lung which was what made me ultimately take a knee when the cops finally arrived. If that bullet didn’t hit my lung (which I ultimately lost 25% of) I would have probably been able to get into a fist fight with the guy if needed.
Oh…btw..my attorney was shot 5x by my some lunatic and was able to take the guy down himself. That lunatic used a handgun 3-5 ft away.
My brother, US FORCE RECON MARINE, shot 7 times, stabbed a dozen times, tortured XX times with scares to prove it and his only haunting physical injury is a shrapnel wound to his ankle.
oh..lastly In my twenties I had to put down, with my bare hands, a crazed druggie attacking a business owner in an attempted robbery. There about two dozen witnesses that defended my actions. If someone tried to shot that guy with only 7 rounds in the magazine, the prospective victim would have died. He was wielding a 12inch knife and moving fast. I won because I was faster (wink, wink, GRIN!). He was a SOLID 6′ 250lb Huck Finn looking dude on PCP.
I’m no tough guy, I don’t start trouble, I’m 5’7″, no special training of any sorts, I wear khakis, a button up shirt and drink coffee all day long (LOL).
I’ve never been a gun guy but after this last shooting (of me 3x) I changed my mind. I have an awesome wife, a 1 yo daughter, and a mother who all depends on me. I can no longer take any risks of lethal confrontation. I’m not 20 years old anymore and cannot take on any more drug freaks. I HAVE TO ARM MYSELF for my protection and for the entire well being of my family.
The arguement that guns have only one purpose, to kill is completely false.
The major function of guns is to deter the use of force. They do this very well. Many studies show between 2.5 million and 400,000 uses of private firearms a year to prevent crime, the vast majority of which occur without firing a shot, in the United States. Most police officers go an entire career without firing a shot but most find their guns very useful. If the only function of guns was to kill or damage, then the 300 million plus guns in the United States are doing a terrible job. Killing is sometimes required and necessary, and when it is, one desires the best instrument for the job. Guns also serve as a deterrent to runaway governments. The mere presence of hundreds of millions of guns gives pause to would be dictators. Hundreds of millions of people were killed by their own governments in the twentieth century by democide. Guns are very commonly used for less exciting purposes, such as subsistence hunting, pest control, and many varieties of sport.
Survivor you are a fake! People this is what happens when a pretender from the far left infiltrates and attempts to further his Obama fueled hatred. I have no doubt that you voted for that dictator-in-chief both times! Go back to the crowd that thinks like you and stay there. We will defeat you and your kind who want to take away our liberty and our God-given right to defend ourselves!
Great article. Ignorance really is a motivating factor in many people’s reaction to magazine bans. This has very well laid out arguments and I have been able to further impress these kinds of things in peoples’ minds that I take shooting(once they have some experience) but thats a slow process. Also, thanks for links to your sources, those help me back up what I say.
What is difficult for me is how to deal with people who are “conservative” and shooters/sportsmen that believe in self defense but don’t believe in military styled rifles or standard capacity mags(what I would consider standard). The most difficult one I encountered what countering the use of a scattergun as the home defense gun vs something like an ar-15.
Those who propose magazine limits have obviously never heard of “jungle clips” or seen pictures of soldiers who did so to increase their firepower.
Take two magazines, flip them end to end and tape them together. Viola! Two 10-round mags suddenly become 20-rounders with a seconds long flip of the wrist.
The argument against high cap mags is that you don’t NEED one. It extremely unlikely that you will
a) be shooting anyone.
b) be shooting anyone.
c) be shooting multiple people