There has been a lot of debate recently about whether or not high capacity magazines should be banned. Many lawmakers claim that high capacity magazines are responsible for the disproportionately high level of victims when mass shootings take place.
The first problem that comes with banning these “High Capacity Magazines” is that there is no clear distinction between what a standard capacity and high capacity are. The arbitrary number ten has been put in place to fill this void, but makes little sense when you look at how firearms are made. Most modern handguns and rifles are designed to operate with a magazine holding somewhere between 15 and 30 rounds of ammunition. So a ten round limit would already place the majority of magazines on the market in the red zone. Let’s mention a few examples. A 9mm Glock 17 has a standard magazine of 17 rounds. The standard I’m using is in reference to what comes with the gun when it is purchased new in store. An AR-15 comes standard with one to three thirty round magazines. An AK variant rifle is the same. These are not high capacity magazines, they are standard capacity magazines that come with the firearm at the date of purchase.
Now let’s talk about why a ban will not work. Here is a quote directly from the study. “In 1997, a gunman in Orange, California, fired nearly 150 shots, wielding an AK-47 with a 30-round magazine three years after a federal law banned such assault weapons.” What is extremely sad about this quote is that it effectively admits that a magazine capacity ban will not work. The federal law being mentioned is the Assault Weapons ban of 1994. This federal law also set a maximum capacity of ten rounds on detachable magazines. So not only did the law fail to prevent a criminal from getting a banned firearm, it also failed to prevent him from getting a high capacity magazine. It truly is a shocker when criminals don’t follow the law.
A ban on magazine capacity id completely unrealistic. Almost entirely due to the fact that there is such a high level of proliferation throughout the country. There are at least 2 million AR-15’s alone in the US. That means there are even more magazines. Assuming that each rifle came with three or the owner bought an equal number that puts 6 million standard capacity magazines on the market alone. Then there are the lower and higher capacity magazines that would bring that number up even higher. It is just unfeasible to impose a limit in the number of rounds a magazine can hold when there are so many millions of higher capacity variants available.
Four months after the San Bernardino shooting, five gun control bills have been given initial approval by the California state senate. They are completely absurd measures that address almost nothing of importance. The proposed laws outlaw “Assault Rifles” with detachable magazines, “Clips” holding more than ten rounds of ammunition, and requiring registration of all firearms that have the infamous “Bullet Button”.
I’d like to address each of these points one at a time and shed some light on the absurdity of their existence. First, what defines an assault rifle? A quick google search of “Assault Rifle” gives the following definition. An assault rifle is “A rapid-fire, magazine-fed automatic rifle designed for infantry use”. In other words, the semi-automatic firearms that are cosmetically similar to those the military uses are NOT assault weapons. Nevertheless the term has been twisted to include any semi-automatic firearm that looks similar to the famous M-16 and AK-47 variant rifles. The way the law is currently written, any firearm that can accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than ten rounds is going to need to be registered with the state. It really is a clever political move since almost every firearm that accepts magazines would fall under this category. That would be just about every popular long gun that is sold in this country. By pretending to be targeting the rifles that they claim account for the most crime, the California state government is attempting to have universal registration of firearms through a backdoor method.
Now let’s talk about the “Clips” holding more than ten rounds. First of all, the person who wrote this section of the report on the proposed laws apparently has no experience with firearms. There is a huge functional difference between a clip and a magazine that anyone that owns a firearm would know. Anyway, the reason given for banning the use of “high capacity magazines” is because “Since 1980, 435 people have been killed in 50 mass shootings involving large-capacity magazines, some of which can hold 100 rounds of ammunition”. There are a lot of things wrong with this statement. First of all, this is a thirty-six year period. That means that a grand total of 12 people per year were killed with weapons using large capacity magazines. Another thing that is wrong with this statement is that it throws in the assumption that a 100 round magazine is the magazine of choice for a mass shooter. This is very frustrating because the statistic assumes that thirty round magazines are high capacity magazines. A completely wrong assumption. The firearms they are supposed to be used in were based around these thirty round magazines. So a thirty round magazine is effectively standard capacity. The fact that 100 round magazines exist makes no difference. I can’t think of a single case where a 100 round magazine was used in a shooting. As a gun owner I know that they are unreliable and bulky. It is one of those statements that tries to get people to think, oh no one needs a magazine that holds one hundred rounds. I support this bill. Meanwhile the true purpose is to ban twenty and thirty round magazines.
It is really frustrating to see lawmakers make the same mistakes over and over. All this law will do is inconvenience law abiding citizens.
When something is made illegal it is inevitable that a black market for that good will form. Cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, and many more illegal substances are not excessively difficult for someone to obtain if they put their mind to it. The US government learned this during prohibition and now is relearning it as the war on drugs comes to an end. Why then would anyone assume that banning guns would mean that no one could access them? Australia is learning this the hard way.
In 1994, Australia passed huge firearm legislation that banned huge numbers of semi-automatic firearms and created a buyback program that was intended to get them out of the hands of civilians. The buyback was not optional of course. If you refused to sell your firearm then you would be arrested and tried for possession of an illegal weapon. The intention of these laws was to reduce the crime rate within the country. Instead, the laws paved the way for an illegal gun trade to form in Australia that “Police admit they cannot eradicate…” as mentioned by the south Australian newspaper the Adelaide Advertiser. Many of the people that are being supplied these weapons are not even criminals. According to The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia and Franz Csaszar—a professor at the University of Vienna—the buyback program saw a compliance level of around 19-20 percent. So people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens were made criminals by a law passed that was intended to target criminals.
Civilians now have a very hard time obtaining firearms in Australis, but the criminal market for these weapons has exploded. It is common for authorities to find that “Motorcycle gang members and convicted criminals barred from buying guns in South Australia have no difficulty obtaining illegal firearms – including fully automatic weapons”. Furthermore, The New Daily—an Australian newspaper—recently gained access to unpublished data on firearm offences which showed an increase in crime “Including a massive 83 per cent increase in firearms offences in NSW between 2005/06 and 2014/15, and an even bigger jump in Victoria over the same period”.
Australia is a generally peaceful country over all, so this data is not as frightening as it may seem. It is important to note however that Australia saw almost no decrease in its homicide rate after imposing these new laws. The average stayed at 1.8 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the US saw a massive decrease over the same time period from 9.3 per 100,000 in 1992 to 4.5 per 100,000 in 2014. The drop in the US homicide rate is largely due to falling violent crime and the end of the “War on Drugs” as it has been coined.
Based on this data it is difficult for me to understand why politicians support an Australian based firearm law when there is absolutely no evidence that It has any effect on homicide rates. Homicide rates in the US have plummeted over the last decade while Australia’s stay the same.