Banning detachable magazines would do nothing to reduce homicides, or prevent mass murder, or mass shootings. While the idea is somewhat of a new fad among gun control advocates, criminology research shows that would be a non-solution to violence. We ought to instead look at underlying, root causes of violence.California’s state legislature passed a bill that would have banned firearms that accept detachable magazines. The bill failed to become law only because California Governor Brown vetoed it. Gun control advocates have recently put forth the idea of banning detachable magazines as a means of crime reduction or reducing mass murders. MIT Economics Professor Chris Knittel’s made this suggestion in an OpEd earlier this year. The idea has also been put forth by other anti-gun fanatics and unscrupulous politicians. The idea that banning detachable magazines would have any measurable impact on crime, homicides, or decrease in mass murders is asinine, inane and imbecilic – contrary to logic and available research from criminology experts who study mass murder.
As a measure to reduce crime, banning detachable magazines is ludicrous. Over 90% of the 1.2 million annual incidents of violent crime do not involve a gun, and of the 120,000 incidents that do involve a gun, less than 9,000 result in firearm homicides (including all handgun,rifle, shotgun and other gun categories). Of those, the majority are the result of handgun violence (6,371 out of 12,765 homicides in 2012) – not rifles (322 in 2012), or mass murder (usually less than 100). These would not be affected by banning detachable magazines. The “logic” behind banning detachable magazines is to reduce potential death by reducing the ability to rapidly reload. However, research shows most firearm homicide victims are shot at less than 10 times, and actually shot less than four times. Reloading would not a requirement in these murders. A ban on detachable magazines is not a ban on capacity in firearms that hold 15 rounds or more. Capacity of over 10 rounds of ammunition – even in internal, attached magazines – has existed for over 100 years; for example, the 1906 Remington Model 8, which originally featured an attached magazine, held 15 rounds.
Despite inordinate reporting of mass shootings to capitalize on ratings and ad revenue, which makes it seem that mass shootings are on the rise, the truth is they are not increasing. Similarly, homicide, violent crime, and even gun crime are at 20 year lows.
Banning detachable magazines would not have any logical effect on mass shootings. A magazine is simply an ammunition storage and feeding device in a firearm, which may be internal (integral) or detached. All rifles, with the sole exception of single-shot rifles, have them. A ban of detachable magazines doesn’t eliminate magazines from a rifle, just the ability to replace one detachable magazine with another detachable magazine. And that wouldn’t eliminate the weapon’s rate of fire or ability to be reloaded, even quickly reloaded. The remedy to faster reloads for fixed, internal magazines have been in existence since before the invention of detachable magazines. Stripper clips are flat metal devices that hold ammunition in a line which allows rapid reload of semi-automatic internal, or attached magazines (note: available for rifles and handguns). Similarly, speedloaders allow for fast reloading in revolver magazines.
A criminal or mentally disturbed person intent on doing a lot of shooting could simply replace detachable magazines with alternate reloading devices such as stripper clips and speedloaders. Failing that, such a person could simply bring several loaded guns and not bother with reloading any of them. Even a single firearm with no additional reloading mechanism could be used to produce tragedy. Further, guns are no requirement to mass murder, and a determined person will find a way according to the experts. Dr. James Alan Fox of Northeastern University states that most mass murderers plan out their attacks well in advance and expect to die in the event. If one tool – firearms with detachable magazines – is not available, they will simply find another. The worst school massacre in U.S. History, the Bath School disaster of 1927 in which 44 were killed, the perpetrator used bombs, like the Oklahoma City Bombing incident.
Gun control advocates counter to gun rights advocates is often to complain that they don’t seem to want to do anything. This is not accurate. I advocate a genuine look at the underlying causes of violence – which almost no one is talking about – in lieu of suggestions which are easily demonstrated to be no solution. Banning detachable magazines is no solution to either homicide or to mass murder. However, a real look at gang violence (responsible for half of all violent crime), drug abuse (the single greatest predictor of violence, with or with mental illness), mental illness, and poverty, particularly urban poverty would be genuine steps towards real solutions. Rather than exploiting every gun tragedy to advance non-solutions, politicians and concerned citizens ought to be willing to roll up their sleeves and do the real and difficult work of finding solutions to the root causes of violence rather than cosmetic, feel-good measures that ultimately achieve nothing productive.
Be sure to check out part 2 of this series, which will cover the unconstitutionality of banning detachable magazines.
By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell Towers, The Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.
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