Why a ban on high-capacity magazines makes sense

A couple of days ago, NRA vice president Wayne LaPierre claimed there was no evidence that smaller magazines would have resulted in fewer deaths at the Newtown shooting. But he’s wrong. There’s substantial evidence that lower capacity magazines would provide more opportunities to stop these shootings sooner.

LaPierre infamously said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But a look at mass shootings shows that in at least a third of a cases, the shooter was stopped by a good person without a gun.

Here’s a good list (compiled by a gun enthusiast, by the way) of mass shootings and how they were ended. Of the 32 mass shootings studied, 15 ended after police arrived — either because they killed or apprehended the killer or because the shooter killed himself when police arrived. In 17 cases, civilians stopped the shootings before police could arrive. In 11 of those 17 cases. the civilians were unarmed. I would bet in nearly every case in which a shooter was apprehended by citizens (as opposed to shot or apprehended by police) that reloading provided the opportunity for that action. It may only take two seconds to change a magazine (or one second, according to LaPierre), but that time can make all the difference.

Congress should be working on passing a ban on magazines above 10 rounds. Some people say the ban would be useless because there are so many high-capacity magazines already out there. That’s why the ban should include both the sale of new magazines and the transfer of existing ones. (Use the ban recently passed in Connecticut as a model.) Most rampage shooters are in their teens or early 20s. They haven’t been collecting arms for years. Most buy their arsenal shortly before they use it. Making it extremely difficult (and illegal) to purchase high-capacity magazines would stop most of these shooters from acquiring them.

An assault weapon ban might be effective, though I understand the argument that there’s little or no functional difference between an assault rifle and most semi-automatic hunting rifles.

Eleven of these shootings in recent years have been stopped by unarmed civilians. Why not give those heroes a little better chance? There is no constitutional right to a high-capacity magazine, and no legitimate need for one.

LaPierre is wrong: There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that a ban on high-capacity magazines could have made a difference at Sandy Hook. A ban on high-capacity mags could be effective, if not at deterring these rampages, at least in limiting the carnage.

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