My old friend David Kopel is one of the most lucid voices in the gun owners’ civil rights movement. Here is his latest on the magazine capacity limit issue, via Reason and the Volokh Conspiracy.


  1. I vividly recall the case way back when after the ISP changed over to the S&W model 39 and several officers set up a road block to intercept a biker/armed robber. The bad dude soaked up 27 or 28 9 mm hits plus 2 12 gauge rifled slugs before he went down. Used for at least a decade to bad mouth the 9 mm round, the fact is that people usually don’t react to bullet wounds they way they do in video presentations.

    In the case above maybe 5-7 of the handgun rounds would have been dynamic injuries (at least when viewed from the front, path through the body unknown) contributing to incapacitation. BTW, at the time of the shooting above, ISP had no official provision for spare ammo on the body.

    While I’ve seen mag changes during qualification of allegedly trained individuals that would qualify as a “critical pause”, effective action in that pause by unarmed individuals would require a mindset most unlikely to exist in the average person.

    The limited rounds concept isn’t original. For roughly half my career on armed status folks with neither training nor experience in the dynamics of violence felt qualified to determine both the tactics and the tools necessary. Didn’t change until 9/11.

  2. One way around cartridge magazine limitations can be the carrying of more than one firearm, especially if one of the guns is a .357 revolver loaded with hot hollow points, giving a potentially better chance of taking fewer shots to stop an adversary, generally my first choice of firearm in a close confrontation. Also, carrying a compact semiauto with a smaller magazine beats not carrying any bulky firearm that is not convenient to carry, when the latter weapon gets left at home. Still, not much can beat accurate firepower (large magazine capacity) in most gunfights, especially in home defense. Check out the old Maineprepper video extolling the existential superiority (really you can read “necessity”) of semiauto rifles over slower-feeding repeaters (shudder!).

  3. Outstanding article riddled with facts not emotion.
    I’ll keep my hi-caps thank you very much (Thanks Steve Denny, Always think of you when I cycle through ammo)

  4. When I started to read Mr. Kopel’s article, a video popped up covering half the screen. It blocked viewing of the complete article and appeared to be a Scripps new video. It was like some entity didn’t want the article to be read, or did I mess up?

    • I had a video pop up, too. I was able to pause it, then scroll past it. It reappeared in the lower right corner of my screen. It stayed there, and I simply ignored it. Sometimes if I touch the upper right corner of a video, an “X” appears. I can touch that and the video closes, and goes away, sometimes.

      We could get rid of ads if the government controlled the Internet, but we don’t want that in America. We could get rid of ads if we paid for everything we looked at. We want free stuff, so we have to put up with ads. I don’t know how they make money. Who wants their junk?

      • Internet advertising works based on volume. Compared to more traditional ads, the “per view” cost is dirt cheap for the company trying to sell something — depending on the host site, it could be a small fraction of a penny per view — so they only need a very small percentage of viewers to click through and buy something to cover it.

        For the site hosting the ad, the “per view” income is also low — that fraction of a penny each — but costs them next-to-nothing to show it (what’s the cost of a page view?).

        Scale that over tens or hundreds of thousands of views, though, and the Law of Large Numbers starts to benefit both sides.

  5. Besides the ethical objections to gummit telling ME how many rounds I can possibly NEED in a defensive situation )(hey always know just how many attackers will surprise me, right?) I have aparticular objection to seting the limit a ten runds. I’ve carried the same nine mm BHP for about fifteen years. Its an old relic made in Belgium in 1964, per numbers. They came from FN with the sttandard 13 round magazines. Some military requested 15 round cap mags, and Argentina demanded 17 round mags or they would not buy them at all, so that’s what they got. I’ve seen a few of the 15’s, and only one Argentine version. I have the standard 13’s, and have never seen anything smaller than that. The only ten round mags I’ve ever seen for a BHP are for the .40 S&W variant. SO what MY stupid state are telling me is I cannot carry my standard defensive handgun now because they’ve deemed 13 are too many…. (I don’t suppose any of them have ever considered the real meaning of “ex post facto….”but since there is none smaller, and trying to fire that thing single shot hand feeding doesn’t work.. hey, the thing won’t eve fire if here is no mag in the well… the nitwits have decide I cn;t carry my own weapon. So much for the clowns that say a magazine is not essential for a firearm to function, right? But whaddya speck, these guys are politicians, not normal citizens These days I strongly suspect most of these gun grabbers don’t really care about restricting gunz, they only care about the financial support they get frm the deep pockets wanting to disarm all of us, who support them.

    • Tionico, sorry to see Washington State go to the dogs like that. I got out of there well before Mt. St. Helens erupted. You might consider following Dan Bongino”s advice and move to a freer state immediately, if not sooner. If you wait until the steam vents go crazy up on Mt. Rainier, you will know that you have stayed around there too long. Great Spirit heap fed up with leftist Micky Mouse, bring down all same fire from Heaven on tyrannical “do-gooders.” I like the area around Pend Oreille, ID as well as any, especially to the south of the lake. Drawbacks can be some deep snow, snail mail coming by boat, maybe too many unchallenged bear and wolf (SSS gratefully often feasible), but no urban blight yet. You will find a new career there that you will like, I believe.

    • Tionico,

      Here in NJ, we can have magazines of any size, as long as they are pinned so they only hold ten rounds. You can have an adjustable stock on a long gun which is manually operated. But, an adjustable stock on a semi-auto long gun must be pinned in place. No slingshots are allowed to sold or possessed. We can own, transport, and fire hollow points at the range, or in the home for self-defense. We cannot carry them. Only active LEOs can carry hollow points. However, we can use the rounds where the cavity is filled-in with polymer in our carry pistols.

    • … since there is none smaller […] the nitwits have decide I cn;t [sic] carry my own weapon.

      Feature, not bug. The Leftists know what they’re doing. The question is, did the GOP team realize it and propose an amendment for “historical” arms — even if it got shot down, did they propose one? My guess is, probably not.

      … the thing won’t eve [sic] fire if here is no mag in the well…. So much for the clowns that say a magazine is not essential for a firearm to function, right?

      Again, feature, not bug. Look at California and their “safe handgun roster” — or any other state with similar requirements. “Magazine disconnect mechanisms” (MDMs) are required for “safety”, rendering pistols unable to fire with no magazine (read: making magazines “essential to function”) … and then they turn around and ban magazines because they’re “not essential to function” and “not arms” covered by 2A anyway.

      And again, check the proposed amendments to such laws to see if the GOP caught that Catch-22 and tried to fix it. Odds are, neither.

  6. Magazine capacity limits have nothing to do with public safety, crime prevention or anything else of real value to society. They are just one more piece in the incremental puzzle designed to deprive us of our rights. I could never understand why it may be ok to legally defend myself with 6,7, 10, 15 rounds of ammunition, but the mere possession of one round beyond the magic number makes me a felon.

    • Or that ridiculous amendment to the also-ridiculous NY “SAFE Act”, in which magazines holding more than seven rounds were re-legalized — the original prohibited all magazines holding more than seven … and then the pols were told it WOULD be unconstitutional since VERY few handguns have mags that size available — provided the actual capacity is 10 or less AND provided you didn’t load more than seven into them. No grandfathering, and AFAIK no provision for permanently pinning/modifying larger mags to only hold seven.

      So under that amended law you can legally have eight rounds (7+1) in your 1911 with its 8-round factory magazine … but only if you load seven, insert it, cycle the slide to load the chamber, eject the mag, add one more round, and re-insert it. If you just load eight rounds, insert it, and cycle the slide, the end result doesn’t change, but now you’re a “gun criminal” for having put that 8th round in the mag, however briefly.

      I have no idea how they’d prove that short of catching you in the act, but that’s not the point of such laws, is it?

  7. I remember hearing that story also but can’t remember the exact bullet used (and power level). Now that I’m retired, a single stack gun and extra mag work great; with the Corbons. I’ll use tactics to avoid anything that I can anyway.

  8. You can’t use logic to talk people out of a position that they didn’t arrive at via logic. The Left will never be convinced.

    • Richard,

      Correct. These wonderful, fact-filled arguments are helpful in educating our side and winning over any fair-minded person who will listen to facts. But, logical arguments do not convince our enemies. They are only interested in power. We have the facts, but they have the power.

      • Strictly speaking, we have more guns than them, so we have power, too. Enough that things haven’t gotten “froggy” yet.

        They know it, and they can’t stand it. Hence all the stupid “gun laws” to try and limit our power and increase their own. And as more and more of them get struck down using Heller and Bruen methodology, expect calls to repeal 2A entirely to get louder.

  9. Well said, Richard.
    As someone who has an inherent distrust of people, and government in particular, there is nobody alive that can tell me what I need better than myself. I find it highly offensive when employers, the general public, or a government agency knows what is “best” for me.

  10. Quote of the Day:

    Micah 4:1-5 “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

    And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” Amen

    Unfortunately, this vision of the Prophet Micah has not yet come to pass. Indeed, the World seems to be going in the opposite direction. The time may soon be upon us when we will need to beat our plowshares into swords and lop off the ends of our pruninghooks so as to mount spear-heads.

    In this age of constant lies, corruption, abuse of government power and expanding oppression, it is not the time for disarmament. Firearms-prohibition and reduced magazine capacities are counter-productive and incredibly foolish.

    I will hold onto my standard capacity magazines, thank-you-very-much! I will also make whatever other preparations, that I can, to be ready for the storms that I see approaching over the horizon.

    In fact, I just received my latest shipment of ammunition today. I regard anyone who sincerely advocates for disarmament in these troubled days as unbelievably naïve and foolish.

    I suspect that a lot of the people, advocating for disarmament of the public, are not sincere. I think they know, full well, that it won’t affect crime. These people don’t care a flip about crime. If they did, they would not be pushing for no-cash bail and an open border.

    Rather, their false concerns about crime are only a smoke-screen to hide their true purpose. The disarmament of the American People in preparation of placing the entire population under tyrannical government control similar to their ideal model: China.

    So, as far as I am concerned, anyone pushing for firearms-prohibition and magazine limits is either (1) an incredibly naïve fool, or else is (2) a totalitarian zealot bent upon World Dominion. Either way, why should I listen to them for a single second?

  11. I can think of 2 cases where a mag change/reload were a significant factor.

    1) Long Island Railroad. Passengers jumped the [alleged] assailant when he reloaded his sole magazine.

    2) Thurston High School, Springfield, OR. Two brothers who were Boy Scouts jumped the assailant when he reloaded his .22 rifle. IIRC, one of them was shot once, but they were able to take the shooter down.

    Just sayin’.

    Otherwise, great column.

    • Both of those situations contained an element or two that are absent from most mass shooting attacks.

      In #1, the killer had one firearm and one magazine that he had to reload. That almost never happens; most mass shooters bring multiple magazines and/or multiple firearms.

      In both #1 and #2, some of the intended victims had the necessary mindset to jump into immediate action at the first opportunity, disregarding the risks to themselves. That also almost never happens; most people in the crowd will freeze up or run away. For a variety of reasons, a capacity for defensive violence and the mindset to use it are something very few people — too few, IMO — cultivate within themselves.

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