Magazine Capacity Doesn’t Matter

Criminologist Gary Kleck did some research on mass shootings involving so-called high-capacity magazines, and found their use doesn’t make a difference. Popular perception, fed by the media and the fear mongers on the other side, is that mass shooters spray bullets quickly. But the truth is mass shooters don’t expend ammunition very quickly at all, making reloading a non-factor in terms of people killed or injured.

Dave Kopel notes that better mental health treatment will do a lot more to stop mass shooters than more gun control.

16 thoughts on “Magazine Capacity Doesn’t Matter”

  1. I once told an anti-gun person that reducing magazine capacity would do little to reduce the toll in mass shootings. His comeback was “then why do you gun nuts need big magazines when it makes no difference?” I told him that it does make a big difference when you are being attacked by an armed person or persons. It is important to have answers like this when dealing with such folks.

    1. That shows their mentality. To them, it’s not eough to show their proposed law wouldn’t work.

    2. “If there is no difference, then why shouldn’t we err on the side of more freedom, instead of less?”

        1. So ask the question. Make them justify it. Thrust that rhetorical dagger in to the hilt, then give it a twist.

    3. Oooh oooh ooooh. this gives me a fantastic idea! Since the only reason someone would want a big magazine, is to defend against gangs of people who wish to harm others, why don’t we ban magazines from anyone who has committed a lot of crimes, and is a member of a criminal organization?

      Surely, such a law is going to have a great impact on how crime is committed in the United States! (Pretty much as big of an impact as banning such magazines outright, I would expect…)

      1. Exactly. A 2-3 second pause isn’t a big deal when your target is cowering under a desk. If your someone is actively trying to kill you and you have to stop shooting for a few seconds- that’s a huge problem! Likewise, the best thing a mass shooting victim can do in 2-3 seconds is shoot back. Take the antis down that road. Of course, the state’s self-defense laws need to not require a duty to retreat in order for magazine bans to allow for more opportunities to stop a shooter during a reload, another inconvenient truth.

  2. Don’t many mass shooters commit suicide once they encounter significant opposition? That would suggest a reason that magazine capacity doesn’t matter: before opposition they’re target shooting, after someone starts shooting back they kill themselves.

  3. We just had a cop killed out here in Westmoreland County responding to a domestic dispute. He got into a shootout with the suspect, who despite dealing with incoming .40 S&W rounds from the officer managed to fire three rounds from a bolt-action .270 hunting rifle, hitting him at least once center mass I believe. Magazine capacity is inconsequential.

  4. The only way I could see magazine size mattering, would be if the mass shooter decided to use a rifle or a pistol with a fixed magazine, such as a tube-loaded lever-action rifle. Even then, I don’t have much experience loading such things, but I suspect that with practice, it can be done fairly quickly.

    If I recall correctly, the story that Sebastian linked to, of the autistic kid who was planning a mass murder but kept on procrastinating until he got caught, was planning on using a shotgun and explosives, to prove that you didn’t need a big magazine size to kill a lot of people…

    1. Derek Bird did that in Cumbria in the UK back in 2010. He managed to kill 12 and wound 11 with a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun and a bolt-action .22 LR rifle. He was able to manage that by engineering the circumstances. To minimize the impact of his capacity limits he drove around in a car. By the time the police would arrive, he’d be gone, and the people in the next area he would attack had no idea what was going on and thus didn’t know to run or take cover.

      Most people seem to have the idea that people who go on shooting sprees all of a sudden just snap. I don’t think that’s true, at least most of the time. Generally, they spend days, weeks, sometimes months or even years planning the attacks. It’s hard to fight against something like that.

      Certainly, magazine capacity restrictions almost certainly won’t have any effect. Accounting for that will merely become part of their prior planning.

  5. WTF does magazine capacity matter when I can just carry more guns? Is there really that much difference between 1 17 round magazine and 3 6 shot revolvers?

    1. Any affect is also easily mitigated by doing tactical reloads, something which the Newtown shooter did.

    2. If you are going to be in a firefight with someone, larger magazine capacity is probably helpful. Nidal Hasan (Ft. Hood shooter) specifically asked at a gun store for a handgun with large magazine capacity, which is why he ended up with an FN Five-seveN and multiple 20 (standard capacity) and 30 (extended capacity) round magazines.

      He also was carrying a S&W .357 magnum revolver which he never used.

  6. The goal of the political left is complete civilian disarmament. Magazine capacity restrictions are just a stepping stone towards that end. Anything that shows that capacity restrictions have no effect is just something else for them to ignore. You won’t read about it in the Washington Post or the New York Times, or hear about it on CNN or MSNBC.

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