Why Magazine Restrictions Are Useless For Preventing Mass Shootings

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

In the wake of any number of mass shootings, from Virginia Beach to Sandy Hook, there tends to be a call for magazine restrictions by those so inclined to push for gun control. Their thinking is that if you restrict the number of rounds in the weapon, you can mitigate the amount of carnage.


However, magazine restrictions won’t do any such thing, for a number of reasons.

First, let’s face the facts that there are piles of magazines that carry a lot more than 10 rounds. Tons of them. They’ve been legal since 2006, and while there’s no evidence a magazine restriction had any impact on crime during the era of the “assault weapon” ban, people have since bought magazines like they were expecting another ban at any time.

There’s no way to take all those magazines off the streets. It’s not happening. “Banning” anything other than low-capacity magazines is a fool’s errand.

Let’s say, though, that anti-gunners could. For the sake of argument, let’s say that it’s possible. It still won’t do a damn thing except to hurt law-abiding citizens in their efforts to protect their lives.

Now, I’ve had anti-gunners claim I’m inconsistent with statements like this, but I’m not. Not really, and I’ll explain why.

First, let’s look at the nature of most mass shootings.

Generally, shootings are planned events. The killers know they’re going to commit a crime and plan accordingly. They pick gun free zones where they’re not likely to meet armed opposition. If there’s armed security, they may try to take them out first, but generally, they know no one is there to stop them.


Now, let’s say they only have a 10-round magazine. So what?

They have all day to shoot at innocent people, then reload. It doesn’t take a lot of time to swap out a magazine. That’s why semi-automatic pistols became the norm for military and law enforcement as well as for armed citizens. A mass shooter can have all day to reload because he’s not likely to meet any armed opposition.

More importantly, they picked when and where the encounter will take place. They can stack the deck in their favor, even if magazine capacity is restricted.

The average armed citizen doesn’t get that luxury.

Should, God forbid, we find ourselves in an armed encounter, we don’t get to pick anything about it except whether or not we’re armed. We don’t get to choose the time, the location, the lighting conditions, nothing. The armed citizen isn’t acting; they’re reacting. That’s not likely to change.

Armed citizens don’t get to stack the deck in their favor.

So, should they find themselves in a gunfight, the last thing they need to do is worry about reloading. They won’t have all the time in the world because someone is shooting at them already. There’s a reason we don’t give 10-round magazines to our military.


Remember, the M-16 originally came with a 20-round magazine, but that was soon changed to a 30-round mag. Why? Reloading when bullets are flying toward you is generally a less than ideal situation. We want our troops to be able to minimize that.

On the same token, armed citizens having to reload when bullets are flying at them is less than ideal as well.

As you can see, the frequency of reloading is very different. Mass shooters typically have all the time in the world while the law-abiding can’t count on that luxury.

But it’s not just me talking here. There’s evidence supporting this.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ignited the calls for a renewed “assault weapon” ban. It’s yet another case of a shooting being used to demonize the AR-15 and it, too, led for calls of ending the availability of so-called “high-capacity magazines.” The shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people.

By contrast, Virginia Beach was a different animal entirely. The killer took 12 lives with a couple of handguns. Evidence that magazine restrictions work?


The Parkland killer only had 10-round magazines. The Virginia Beach shooter, by contrast, had the higher-capacity magazines, yet claimed fewer lives.


Now, this isn’t to say that 10-round magazines are more deadly. They’re not.

What I am saying is that for a mass shooter, magazine capacity is irrelevant. For the average citizen, it may end up being deadly, especially if you’re like the poor Houston man who found himself besieged by multiple attackers.

I understand the desire to try and combat mass shootings. No one wants them to continue. However, I and a lot of other people aren’t willing to handicap ourselves and our efforts to protect ourselves and our families for no good reason so some politicians can pat themselves on the back and talk about how they “did something,” especially when that “something” won’t do a damn bit of good in the first place.

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