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May 12, 2005

Gunfight

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, David Kopel opens a can of heavily armed worms:

The Brady Campaign, the largest of the gun prohibition lobbies, is holding a press conference today to “discuss how police officer’s jobs have become more dangerous since assault weapons with large capacity clips are more readily available.” There’s good reason to be skeptical about whatever claims the group will make. First of all, there are not many guns which actually use “clips” to store their ammunition. The venerable M-1 Garand from World War II used clips, but most guns of the last half-century store their ammunition in “magazines.”
…The group’s definition of “large” capacity magazines is also extreme. The now-expired 1994 federal gun ban defined “large” as anything over 10 rounds, even through millions of ordinary self-loading guns have a standard magazine capacity of 13-17 rounds. Notably, the group (under its previous name of “Handgun Control, Inc.”) testified before the New York City Council in favor of banning any magazine holding more than 6 rounds.

Assault weapons are used in only 1-2% of gun crimes, and account for a similarly small percentage of gun seizures. Many crimes popularly attributed to assault weapons—such as the DC sniper case—are committed with rifles. By contrast, guns of every type with a capacity of ten or more rounds do account for about one-quarter of gun crimes. But that’s hardly surprising: as Kopel notes, most semi-automatic handguns on sale or in circulation have at least this capacity.

In reality, magazine size is largely irrelevant. During the vast majority of gun-related crimes, only a small number of shots are fired—or no shots at all. The type and capacity of gun used has no bearing on the crime’s outcome.

Posted by Stephen at 6:59 PM in Legal issues | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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