If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had a conversation with someone in the last few days who asked, “Why do ordinary law-abiding people need those semiautomatic firearms with magazines that can hold more than ten cartridges?” There are lots of sound answers.
For one thing, defensive firearms are meant to be “equalizers,” force multipliers that can allow one good person to defend against multiple evil people. To allow one good person to defend against a single evil person so much stronger and/or bigger and/or more violent than he or she, that the attacker’s potentially lethal assault can be stopped. History shows that it often takes many gunshots to stop even a single determined aggressor. Most police officers have seen the famous autopsy photo in the cops-only text book “Street Survival” of the armed robber who soaked up 33 police 9mm bullets before he stopped trying to kill the officers. Consider Lance Thomas, the Los Angeles area watch shop owner who was in many shootouts with multiple gang bangers who tried to rob and murder him. He shot several of them, and discovered that it took so many hits to stop them that he placed multiple loaded handguns every few feet along his workbench. That’s not possible in a home, or when lawfully carrying concealed on the street: a semiautomatic pistol with a substantial cartridge capacity makes much more sense for that defensive application.
Semiautomatic rifles? Consider this heart-breaking, fatal home invasion in Florida http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Byrd_and_Melanie_Billings and ask yourself if it might have turned out differently had the homeowners been able to access and competently deploy something like, oh, a Bushmaster AR15 with 30 round magazine. I teach every year in Southern Arizona, and each year I see more Americans along the border with AR15s and similar rifles in their ranch vehicles and even their regular cars. There have been cases where innocent ranchers and working cops alike have been jeopardized by multiple, heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers in desert fights far from police response and backup. A semiautomatic rifle with a substantial magazine capacity can be reassuring in such situations, as seen here: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/risk-of-violence-keeps-ranchers-on-alert/article_adb7ca9a-14a3-5d63-8788-34bef7e77220.html
In the last twenty years, we have seen epic mob violence in American streets. During the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Korean storekeepers armed with AR15s kept their stores and livelihoods – and lives – from the torches of inflamed crowds because the mob feared their force multipliers. Read this, for a survivor’s account: http://www.seraphicpress.com/jew-without-a-gun/. There have been bands of roving, violent predators as lately as this year during the Sandy storm. And the “flash mob violence” phenomenon of recent years has left many urban dwellers picturing themselves as the lone victim of a feral human wolfpack.
And, if you will, one more stark and simple thing: Americans have historically modeled their choices of home protection and personal defense handguns on what the cops carried. When the police carried .38 revolvers as a rule, the .38 caliber revolver was the single most popular choice among armed citizens. In the 1980s and into the 1990s, cops switched en masse to semiautomatic pistols. So did the gun-buying public. Today, the most popular handgun among police seems to be the 16-shot, .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic. Not surprisingly, the general public has gone to pistols bracketing that caliber in power (9mm, .40, .45) with similar enthusiasm. The American police establishment has also largely switched from the 12 gauge shotgun which was also the traditional American home defense weapon, to the AR15 patrol rifle with 30-round magazine…and, not surprisingly, the law-abiding citizenry has followed suit there, too.
The reasoning is strikingly clear. The cops are the experts on the current criminal trends. If they have determined that a “high capacity” semiautomatic pistol and a .223 semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines are the best firearms for them to use to protect people like me and my family, they are obviously the best things for us to use to protect ourselves and our families .