Among its many efforts to curtail the exercise of our Second Amendment rights, the gun control lobby is busy trying to either ban “large capacity” magazine bans or defend those bans from lawsuits in places where they’ve managed to enact them into law. And one of the main arguments used by the gun control lobby and the anti-Second Amendment politicians responsible for the bans is that no one really needs more than ten rounds to protect themselves. Gun control activists love to cite studies that purport to show the average number of round fired in a defensive gun use is somewhere around three, which supposedly would give gun owners seven rounds to spare if they needed to use their firearm in self-defense… except, of course, that there’s no guarantee your self-defense experience will be anything close to “average”.
Attorney Amy Swearer, who does extensive analysis and research on Second Amendment issues for the Heritage Foundation, writes at the Daily Signal that she was recently surprised to discover the gun control groups citing her own research as support for their argument, and now she’s firing back and bringing receipts to document precisely how misleading their claims have been.
A conglomerate of gun control groups has filed a brief in federal court supporting the District of Columbia in a lawsuit challenging the city’s prohibition on civilian possession of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
This was not at all surprising.
What was quite perplexing, however, was the gun control groups’ citation of two of my recent monthly articles for The Daily Signal on defensive gun use. The groups claim the two articles “support” the premise that the District’s ban doesn’t negatively affect law-abiding gun owners, because none of the cases I cited “involved the use of anywhere close to 10 rounds of ammunition.”
Worse, the gun control groups spun this as The Heritage Foundation, among others, having “acknowledged that the ability to fire more than 10 rounds of ammunition without reloading is not necessary for defensive purposes.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
These are incredible claims in the most literal sense: They lack any credibility.
At best, the legal brief’s characterization of my monthly articles on defensive gun use is lazy to the point of recklessness and wrongly attributes to my employer, The Heritage Foundation, a policy position that it doesn’t hold. At worst, this constitutes an intentional effort to manipulate a federal court with a blatantly misleading representation of Heritage’s work on defensive gun use.
As Swearer points out, the Daily Signal’s reporting of defensive gun uses, while admirable, is not supposed to be a comprehensive or exhaustive list of every DGU that takes place. But even in the cases that they do report on, the number of rounds fired is often unknown. As Swearer was able to document in her rebuttal, however, there are still plenty of situations where more than ten rounds were fired against armed assailants.
Ironically, the September article that the gun control groups cite (covering cases from the previous month) is the perfect example to illustrate this point.
Left out of that article—but still included in Heritage’s database and highlighted on the @DailyDGU Twitter account—was an Aug. 19 example of defensive gun use in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, by a concealed carry permit holder who fired 18 rounds while defending himself against an armed robber.
A cursory review of Heritage’s database reveals this is far from the only confrontation that didn’t make it into the monthly “highlight reel,” despite involving more than 10 rounds fired in self-defense.
In the March article, for example, we declined to highlight a Feb. 22 case in Richmond, Kentucky, in which a man fired at least 19 rounds using two firearms during a shootout with an intruder who had just killed the man’s daughter.
That same month, a gun owner in Washington state told reporters that he fired an entire magazine of ammunition at a gunman, providing covering fire for two wounded sheriff’s deputies during a shootout and likely saving their lives.
Clearly there are some gun owners who do indeed need more than ten rounds to defend themselves. The gun control lobby can dismiss these cases as outliers all they want, but we’re also talking about the difference between life and death. Gun control activists argue that “large capacity” magazines aid criminals, but if that’s reason enough to ban something that is also of value to law-abiding citizens then we should probably be banning fast cars and crowbars while we’re at it.
In fact, to take the gun control activists’ argument to it’s illogical conclusion, let’s ban magazines altogether. After all, most defensive gun uses don’t result in any shots being fired at all, so if carrying capacity should be limited to the average number of rounds discharged in a DGU, then wouldn’t “zero” would be the appropriate number to use?
Our right to bear arms in self-defense isn’t predicated on the idea that we’ll only ever have to defend our lives in “ordinary” circumstances. The Founders could have said, “the right of the people to possess a musket shall not be infringed,” but they declined to do so. During the debate over ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was in part meant to guarantee newly-freed former slaves access to their Second Amendment rights, there was no talk about including language that would bar the use of those newfangled repeating rifles and their magazine capacity of more than a dozen rounds.
The gun control lobby doesn’t have history on their side, and the data doesn’t support their argument either, as Swearer has clearly shown. I believe this is just one of many losing battles the anti-gunners are fighting right now, and it’s nice to see their attempt to use Swearer’s reporting as ammunition blow up in their face.