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 .


  1. I got it all you anti’s have the answer of the “Gun Free Zones” this is a great idea. I think we should expand it lets get ride of the Secret Service and make the area around the President a Gun Free Zone! If it works for schools why not the President?

  2. My home defense weapon only holds 10 rounds—-OF 12ga 00 BUCKSHOT MAGNUM ROUNDS.—-a SEIGA with 4 clips. I live in the country and it would take the Police 30 mins to get there to save me from the time I called them. Can I wait that long?


  3. Brilliantly pithy and poignant. Thank you.

    For home defense, I’ll stick with my shotgun. But in a civil disruption, the milspec rifle is the obvious choice.

    And the civilian arms buildup after the mere mention of a coming piece of gun ban legislation is a clear statement that we’re not turning anything in and in fact are ready to resist if necessary and left no alternative.

  4. Self-defense is an inherent, human right. If criminals (government or citizens) infringe upon my property rights, then I have the right and RESPONSIBILITY to defend my property!

  5. The emphasis in the comments on mags of greater than 10 round capacity is misplaced –a red herring. The proposed bill bans ALL semi-auto rifles, shotguns, and handguns that “can accept” a magazine of greater than 10 round capacity. That means that every semi-auto firearm that uses detachable magazines will be banned, including the 1911, and every other semi-auto magazine fed handgun.

    As to the ignorant assertion that no assault rifles would be available to criminals if they were all banned, unless acquired somehow from the police and military….geez….have you ever heard of the AK47? They make them by hand in Pakistan. They’re prolific, and most of those in Mexico were imported from other Latin American countries, not the US. Criminals will still be able to get all the AKs they want even if it were possible to eliminate all ARs in the US –which it isn’t.

  6. Since when is the 2nd Amendment debatable ?
    Why is it 80 million lawful firearm owners are abused and blamed for a despicable act of unhuman proportion. Anyone not brought to their knees by acts of terror and mass murder surely lack human traits such as love and feelings for others. And, by the same grace, no one ought to be depriving lawfuly firearm owners their right to personal protection.
    Why is the “close the barn doors after the cows get out” mentality thriving. Just look at all the prohibitionists
    running around with their heads cut off proclaiming “ban, assault weapons, ban the magazines.
    Excuse me, I have a dirty little secret to tell you. Lawful firearm owners do not/ can not own “assault weapons”! Since when? 1934!
    So what is the debate? I fail to see it, unless you are the one who falls for the folly or myth of “assault weapons” and of course, “gun control”.
    You see folks, it is the ploy the prohibitionists have been using from day one. Time to get over it prohibitionist, grow up. You want all our firearms, do you not.
    Well, you can not have them, period!
    Oh, by the way, when is the Revolution.

  7. Here in the UK we have draconian gun control laws that effectively amount to prohibition for the majority of the population. It is also illegal to carry a knife in public unless it has a non-locking blade under 3 inches long. Does this make our streets safe? No, because criminals do not respect the law. Fatal stabbings are rife and if you care to check out the murder of two unarmed police women in Manchester last year you will read that criminals in the UK are buying guns and even hand grenades with ease.

    So, we have a situation where the law abiding public are unarmed and the criminals are armed with guns, knives and explosive devices because, as I have said, they do not respect the law. Our only defense is to phone the police and wait for an armed response unit to arrive. That works every time: “I say old chap, would you mind waiting while I get my telephone and contact the local constabulary. Jolly good”.

    Follow our example. Ban guns. Then ban knives. Your streets will be safe.

  8. To the anti-gun, confiscation supporting folks- especially those like Piers Morgan, the US was established by and for people who wanted freedom from tyranny of Britain. Britain has the gun laws that seem to be so desired by you all- stop trying to change our way of life and Constitution. The answer is simple, if gun laws, regulations and big government control are what you desire, go to Britain or one of the many countries that already have that foundation.

  9. Mas,

    I carry a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 686 in a duty holster at work with a .38 Special Smith & Wesson Model 37 in pocket as backup. (Yes, I’m the resident dinosaur in my agency.) I also am currently the top gun in my unit, shooting 100% in our last semiannual qualification against the rest of the guys and gals with their .40 S&W Glock 22 semiautomatic pistols. Does this mean that I don’t like or need a semiautomatic pistol?

    Nope. It means that I standardized on Smith & Wesson pattern revolvers because my wife can’t get past the brass ejecting from a semiautomatic pistol. She calls them “…guns that shoot back…” and develops a flinch in less than a magazine. On the other hand, she is very good with my old .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 681 loaded with .38 Special +P. My standardization means that she can pick up anything I carry on or off duty and use it effectively. Since I am not independently wealthy, my collection of (mostly old) Smith & Wesson and Taurus revolvers will do until I can afford some 1911A1s like I carried in the Army.

    What I do have since we live out in the county is a .223 Rem/5.56X45mm NATO Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle (581-series) wearing an old Weaver K2.5 scope with an ammo can of 20 and 30 round magazines. This is my “Get off my property!” rifle. Senator Feinstein’s effort to ban “assault weapons” (meaning all semiautomatic firearms) would affect my Mini-14, too, since magazines large and small fit it. I shall not comply.

    All together now: I SHALL NOT COMPLY. That’s what we have to make clear to our congresscritters and senatecritters: WE SHALL NOT COMPLY.


  10. Our government have laws in place to incarcerate / murders/thieves/thugs that car jack, thugs that do home invasions here in South Florida kill inocent people and either there not prosicuted or let out early to be animals on our streets. Why does this country allow the government not to impliment our laws presently vs making laws to take away securities a gun provides a good person? Taking away auto weapons is only the first step or the beginning of takes our FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS! Would you want your family invaded in the middle of the night and see your children or wife slaughtered/RAPED with no defense of a weapon to protect your family??

  11. Mas, this is a good blog entry but I have one problem with it: it takes the utilitarian approach. The fact is, even if you could find no example where semi-auto rifles with large magazines were useful, it would still be completely illegitimate for the government to confiscate these arms.

    Folks, they can only take our guns IF WE AGREE TO LET THE GOVERNMENT TAKE THEM. This is a matter of will, not rights. Do you agree to let the government have your guns? Do you agree to let them turn you into a slave? Arms are the distinguishing characteristic of a free man.

    You won’t be alone. In the New Jersey semi-auto confiscation attempt (a state not known for rabid gun-nuttery), in the face of draconian penalties, the percentage of compliance with the law was down in the single digits.

    This government is completely ILLEGITIMATE. We all know it. Start treating it as such, and man up.

  12. It would be really helpful in expanding the appeal of the numerous good arguments against gun control if some of the opponents would stop making the inaccurate generalizations that this is mostly a “liberal” vs. “conservative” issue.

    There are many second amendment supporters who don’t fit either definition exclusively but agree with different sides on different issues. I consider myself in this group and I even know a few people who are much more liberal who still oppose most gun control because they also love individual liberty. (You can argue elsewhere about whether that love conflicts with their positions.)

    It would also help if some of the more militant “conservatives” would recognize that politicians who agree with all of their views are gradually becoming unelectable. More moderate GOP candidates (or at least ones willing to compromise on some important matters) will have a better chance of getting elected for those of us for whom issues other than gun rights are also important. I voted against Sen. Feinstein this year but I had to hold my nose while doing it. I suspect many others voted for her while holding their noses.



    I’m so glad I live on the other side of the world from you lunatics.

  14. So we’re all busy chattering amongst ourselves. How many folks are beating on their Congress Critters? Why not? Every Senator can be Emailed – for 80 of 100 I’m on round 5. (Several have called- they do read.)

    The House? Only your CongressCriter will accept your Email- but they all publish their FAX numbers.

    Melt them down!!

  15. Mas, Feinstein hasn’t introduced her bill yet per THOMAS (thomas.loc.gov , the word on current legislation status straight from Library of Congress).

    One site that ANYONE who cares about their freedom should peruse regularly…

  16. All true. Of course, the issue of NEED has nothing to do with it. This is America, and we are supposed to have FREEDOM. Not just freedom to do what is needed.

    If we allow NEED to be the basis for what the government can take away, we will have very little left.

  17. On a related note… I’ve been seeing it suggested, and find it plausible, that the Feinstein noisemaking may just be a “Show of Force” to distract us from a real flanking attack in some other bill. So, while we need to hammer it hard when it comes up, we also need to keep a wary eye out for other threats, like slipping it into “Must Pass” legislation or gutting a bill in Conference Committee (which The McCain Mutineer for one likes to use as an avenue for mischief and backstabbing) and stuffing a ban in as a substitute bill, since once out of Conference it’s limited to up-or-down vote only IIRC.

    The other side has, after all, demonstrated that NOTHING is beneath them…

  18. everyone is talking about banning guns…this will not work because criminals do not fallow the law. So why not make it harder for them to use? It is my personal belief that all guns should be registered with ones own neighborhood police, for any lawful person this should not be a problem. Seeing as how criminals find ways to get their hands on guns anyway, court shouldn’t be necessary, however there should be something on guns that scans either your finger print or eye in order to be used. If this is not done the gun should not be able to fire. I understand that there are over 283 million guns out there right now and it would be impossible to get them all and replace them, but if something is to be done about tomorrow, something must be done today. I sure don’t want my son going to school one day where I believe he is safe, and then rushing to school to find his limp, cold, blood soaked body laying on the hard school floor…would you?

  19. “Registration is just a first step. Confiscation is the ultimate goal.”
    –then-Attorney General Janet Reno

    So, Julia, I trust that that statement plus many more by others of simiular ideologue, ESPECIALLY after California started out as “we just want ’em registered” and then moved to full ban, bent will help you see why so many of us see registration as such an issue, and so many on the “further restriction of any kind” side as trying to “negotiate” in bad faith.

    Fix the mental-health system that lets these lunatics loose on the street and leave my great-uncle’s M1 Carbine that he liberated the Mauthausen concentration-camp with out of it! (Which most banners single out by name second only to the “dreaded” semiauto-lookalike Thompsons, ’cause ya know something near-identical in performance to a .45 pistol that weighs TEN FREAKIN’ POUNDS is just WAY TOO DANGEROUS FOR PEASANTS… *snort* Come on… A Thompson with a 50-round drum. THREE fully-loaded doublestack Glocks in the same caliber which by the way are each a hell of a lot more concealable, and together add up to 39 rounds ready-to-go with factory magazines or 81 with extended. A little more weight for a LOT more handling ease and ready ammo… Do The Freakin’ Math and you’ll see why Thompson owners keep them in safes only to be used on the range rather than in a “ready rack”. For most the Glocks would be the easy choice on either the offense or defense end, and the ONLY reason I’d choose the Thompson is it’s the only one of the two I can actually HIT with, though outside of this “X or Y” theoretical I’d stick to my single-stack 1911’s. WHICH, oh by the way, the idiots in Illinois want to ban TOO…)

    Oh, by the way, what happens if your fancy retina scanner malfunctions when 400# Mongo wanting to shove a tire iron where the sun don’t shine is breathing down your neck? In a hostile encounter, every last microsecond counts and the police are at BEST several minutes away, so you’re On Your Own until they can get there, and electronics have a strange way of failing at the worst possible times…

  20. Elaborating on prior point… what about us who require corrective optics? Far as I know even big fixed-location retina scanners won’t play nice with eyeglasses, and when something goes bump in the night you can’t afford the time to take your glasses off, stop to scan and put ’em back on, and you DARN sure can’t afford the “skip the glasses” option because IMO to fire a weapon when you cannot see where you are firing without reasonable clarity is gross negligence at best.

  21. I think it’s great that there are justification based on pure utilitarian logic of why citizens ought to have the right to have access to high capacity mags and semi-auto weapons (i am not going to refer to the liberal term of “assault weapons”, any semi-auto in the right hand can do the job).

    I would offer a more philosophical and theoretical view of why we ought to have access to all the things the liberals want to ban. It has to do with balance of power, which i think the 2nd amendment was meant to do. The right for citizen to own weapons is essentially to deter despotism and totalitarian government when all other avenues fail.

    by having the ability to arm ourselves without governmental restrictions and knowledge, we can, if needed, rise up against an unjust government. I know I am going down a slippery slope but as the people are willing to give up their rights for a small measure of false safety, we move closer to a police states.

    1st, we gave up rights as americans because of 9/11 w/ all the airport security, invasion of privacy, laws taking away rights as americans if they deem you a terrorist.

    Now, with the recent events, more and more americans are saying “i want the government to protect me”. this is so sad. where’s the sense of self-reliance, where’s the ideal of individualism and self-determination.

    The perfect storm for the liberals to take a shot at taking away our rights to further their cause of a socialist society with a benevolent dictatorship.

    I hope we never get to the point where all our rights are given up!

  22. You need to understand that the politicians do not actually care about the gun related deaths.

    They are simply taking advantage of the emotional situation to further their goal of dis-arming the American citizenry..

    The liberal mantra of : “Never let a good crisis go to waste” is in play here…

    That’s how liberals roll…

  23. @Alext

    You’re right. To put it even more simply: liberals condemn the far rights reliance on a a higher power, but then use demagoguery to rationalize their approach.

    Chicken, fearful hypocrites, pure and simple

  24. I think those of you including Mas, who feel the need to address the question of “need” for a particular type of firearm, are making a HUGE MISTAKE. This debate should not be about “need”. Since when does one have to demonstrate “need” to buy a type of house, car, shoes, collectibles or any other silly stuff people buy. Its a basic right! Until someone demonstrates when a law abiding person owns a certain rifle that it represents a clear and present danger to the public at large (which they cannot), then that’s the angle we should use to fight these bans with.

  25. Understood, Randall. My own feeling is that “rights” COUPLED with “needs” is a stronger argument together than either of them separate. That’s why I address both in this blog.

  26. Mas:

    Sir, I know this might be a stretch, so I apologize in advance… but do you remember the article you wrote about 20 years ago (I’m thinking ’92, ’93, ’94… “ish”) wherein you related the account of some bad guy being shot multiple times and not going down? If my aging memory recalls correctly… I think it took place at a coffee shop; I believe the bad guy was rather large in stature and was robbing the cashier at the counter. If I remember, the manager of the coffee shop shot him six times with a .357 Magnum revolver and reloaded TWICE more and emptied all chambers TWICE more (3×6=18)… before the guy finally dropped. The bad guy was hopped up on drugs and I believe you described his blood as “orangish-green.” I’m 99.999999% sure the piece was written by you and I’ve always referred to that incident as to “why” people need LOTS of extra ammo. If I could make an official request, could you look through your older articles and reprint that one, please? I think it would be very pertinent to the discussion on banning “hi-cap” magazines.



  27. Russ, I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the case you describe.

    Somewhere around that time I wrote about the Steve Chaney incident in Baton Rouge, where two officers had to shoot a man a total of ten times with .38 Special +P ammunition before he finally stopped his violent attack. By that time, he had killed one of the two officers and wounded the other, Officer Chaney. Baton Rouge PD subsequently switched to 16-shot Glock .40 caliber semiautomatic service pistols.

  28. Mas:

    Thanks, sir, for the reply. There’s a needle-in-a-haystack remote chance I have the article somewhere… I used to snip and save articles like that, back then. I’ll see if I can find it.

    I can certainly see why Chaney went to the Glock.