Why Do We Need High Capacity Magazines? To Stop the Bad Guys

* Editors note: TOWNHALL News Editor Katie Pavlich is participating in a multi-day firearms training course at the Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. Stay tuned for daily dispatches. This is the fifth dispatch. As the dispatches accumulate, they’ll all be available here.


PAULDEN, Ariz. – Much of the recent gun control debate around the country has been centered around “high capacity magazines,” which begs the question, just how many rounds of ammunition should a law abiding citizen be legally capable of putting into their gun? The answer is, as many rounds as it takes to stop a violent threat.

During my classroom session Tuesday afternoon at Gunsite Academy, I learned that “knock-down” power does not exist with small arms. As one instructor put it, “Real life isn’t like in the movies when somebody gets shot with a handgun and they go flying across the room.”

I also learned that, “handguns of all types don’t reliably stop a dedicated adversary from stopping their actions.”

In my training today, it became even more obvious to me why I, and millions of others, would need a “high capacity” magazine in my handgun. I’m shooting a Glock 19 this week. I have three magazines, each holds 15 rounds. Is 15 rounds enough to stop the actions of a violent attacker? If I were to place a few rounds in the correct area, they could be enough, but even that doesn’t guarantee a stop in action.

Take for example the Miami shooting of 1986.

Video and photos of Katie Pavlich at the pistol range on page two.


“On April 11, 1986, at Miami, Florida, special agents of the Miami Division attempted to apprehend two suspects responsible for a series of armed bank and armored car robberies. In the attempted apprehension, the subjects William R. Matix and Michael Lee Platt opened fire on the special agents. In the ensuring gunfight, Special Agents Benjamin O. Grogan and Jerry Dove were killed. Special Agents Edmundo Mireles, Jr., John F. Hanlon, Jr. and Supervisory Special Agent Gordon G. McNeill received serious wounds and Special Agents Gilbert M. Orrantia and Richard A. Manauzzi received minor wounds. The remaining agent in the gunfight, Special Agent Ronald G. Risner, was unharmed. Both subjects were killed by fire of special agents. No civilians were hit either by agents’ fire or by fire from the subjects. Some property damage was done to neighboring residences and vehicles. Best estimates are that approximately 145 shots were fired in this exchange of gunfire.”



Matix was hit with a 9 mm handgun round (standard ammunition being used by the FBI at the time) through his arm and lung and still went on to kill FBI special agents Grogan and Dove before dropping dead. The will to survive mindset of those intent on doing harm is strong, and it’s important to have enough ammunition to stop it.

Overseas, the average number of rounds per enemy casualty is 50,000. The truth is, it’s not always easy to hit your target when you’re under stress. Luckily at Gunsite, they teach you how to use the proper techniques of handgun self defense which can work every time under pressure if applied correctly.

“Training allows you to survive,” Instructor Walt Wilkinson said Tuesday during a demonstration.

Training is key and it’s extremely important to train as if you’re confronting a real life threat, both mentally and physically with your firearms skill set. During training on Tuesday, after using stationary targets, we switched to moving targets to help simulate a real life situation.

Below is a slideshow demonstrating a speed reload, which is used when the gun runs out of ammunition during a fight.

(Photos: Alex Landeen, LandeenPhotography.com)

Wednesday we will start the morning in the classroom, Tuesday were started out on the range. By the end of the week, our shots are expected to get faster and more accurate.


“Fast is the absence of excess motion,” Instructor David Starin says, adding it is important to be smooth first and that eventually speed will follow.

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