During the recent oral arguments over California’s ban on ammunition magazines that can accept more than ten rounds, attorneys for the state tried to make the case that, because the average number of rounds fired during a defensive gun use is far less than ten, a ban on so-called large capacity magazines really isn’t an imposition on gun owners and certainly doesn’t infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
Of course one of the flaws with that argument is that we can’t guarantee that if we ever do need to use a firearm in self-defense, it will be in a “typical” encounter with a violent criminal. Case in point; the attack on an off-duty officer in New York City on Wednesday night.
The incident occurred just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, when the officer got out of his car near the intersection of Martense Street and Rogers Avenue in Flatbush, according to police. There was some sort of dispute between the cop and the group of about eight to ten men, who then started assaulting him.
The officer fell to the ground during the attack, cutting his hand. At some point during the fight, the officer fired off one shot from his gun, police said. No one was struck by the gunfire, and the attackers took off right after, according to police.
According to the New York Daily News, the off-duty officer ran over an object in the street and stopped to see what he’d hit. That’s when the group of men, who’d apparently been setting off fireworks, jumped the officer and tried to beat him down.
In this case, the officer only had to fire one round to get the mob attacking him to disperse. What if those assaulting the officers didn’t turn tail and run away, however? What if they’d continued to attack the off-duty officer even after that first pull of the trigger?
I’d argue that, in fact, one of the reasons why the individuals attacking that officer were so quick to flee after the first shot was fired is that they knew that the officer still had more rounds in his magazine, and that they were likely going to be shot themselves if they stuck around and continued their assault.
Under New York law, gun owners are restricted to possessing 10-round magazines, and are only allowed to have seven rounds of ammunition loaded in the magazine unless they’re at the range. Police are exempt from the law, however, and in New York officers have 15 rounds per magazine (and are required to have two spare mags on their person as well). If ten rounds isn’t enough for police, why should it be enough for civilians who might also have to defend themselves from more than one attacker?
Gun control activists don’t really have a good answer for that question, though some of them would undoubtably claim that officers themselves shouldn’t have access to more than ten rounds. After all, police violence is gun violence according to groups like Everytown for Gun Safety. Still, as this latest incident in New York City demonstrates, the ability to fire more than ten rounds could be the difference between life and death for the victims of violent crimes, and we shouldn’t have to simply trust that most criminals will run away after the first pull of the trigger.