This post is likely to make some folks in the gun-rights community displeased with me. Thus, I will state up front that:
I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT MAGAZINE LIMIT RULES CAN HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF GUN VIOLENCE - SUICIDE, ACCIDENTS AND "EVERYDAY" CRIMINAL USE OF FIREARMS.
I have argued that view in the past here on the Patch in these posts:
Part 2 is the one to read if you are going to read just one of these posts.
I have also dissected the CAGV/March for Change legislative proposal including their call for a 7-round magazine capacity limit with NO GRANDFATHERING.
I have most recently pointed out that a review by the Obama/Holder Department of Justice has also opined that most of the most common "gun control" laws are ineffective:
So, in my opinion, I have put forth a body of work that shows my belief is that restrictions on magazine capacity have not only been ineffective in the past, but would be ineffective in the future and would significanly impact law-abiding citizens far more than criminals or the criminally insane.
With that opening aside, I do FEAR that the Democratic Party controlled House, Senate and Statehouse do not care about efficacy at this point and are trying to score poitns with voters, both in Connecticut and nation-wide. Calls from gun control advocates that "Connecticut should have the toughest laws due to Newtown" seem to confuse the severness of restrictions with efficacy and/or real-world enforcability. As Chicago and many California cities prove, more gun restrictions do not make for less gun violence.
What I can not understand is how we are using "high capacity" to define what are STANDARD CAPACITY magazines. What I can not understand is how in 2013 we are using a single "one size fits all" capacity to address rifles, traditional semi-auto pistols and "machine pistols" aka "assault pistols"?
If Connecticut REALLY WANTS TO BE A THOUGHT LEADER, it is time we stop doubling down on 25-year-old concepts first hatched in California in the 1980s and address the here-and-now. With that in mind, while I believe more laws are unneccessary, I would like to offer the following proposal for those who insist that magazine capacity limits must be part of any omnibus gun law in Hartford.
A SMART MAGAZINE CAPACITY LIMIT PROPOSAL
MAGAZINE CAPACITY LIMITS MUST NOT NEUTER THE SELF-DEFENSE HANDGUNS OF LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS
SMART CAPACITY LIMITS = PISTOLS @ 17 ROUNDS AND RIFLES @ 30/10 ROUNDS
Connecticut needs SMART magazine capacity limits if such a law must be considered. The current 10 or 7 round one-size-fits-all approach is based on circa-1985 California notions that are incompatible with today’s world. Connecticut must be a THOUGHT LEADER and offer a FIRST IN NATION magazine capacity law with SEPARATE pistol and rifle magazine limits that reflect REALITY, not CAGV’s out-dated ideas. More importantly, Connecticut needs a law that does not excessively impact law-abiding citizens while having little to no impact on the major causes of gun violence/injury/death in our state.
First, magazine capacity will have NO IMPACT on the LEADING causes of gun death/injury:
- Suicides – Nationally, 62% of 2011 gun deaths are self-inflicted while CT suicides were 53% of total – suicide is a 1-shot event and WILL NOT be impacted by capacity
- Accidents - Smaller number of incidents but all 1-shot events
- Street crime – According to CAGV: “more than 85 percent of gun crimes are committed by people who cannot legally purchase guns.” – criminals IGNORE laws like this
Second, the HUGE IMPACT on the existing base of such magazines of a 7 or 10-round limit:
- A majority of semi-automatic pistols and rifles sold today have STANDARD DESIGN CAPACITY magazines in excess of 7 or 10 rounds.
- OLR report 2011-R-0158 estimates that as of year-end 2010, CT residents owned:
- Over 600,000 firearms capable of using 10+ round magazines (more at 7-round limit)
- Over 2,400,000 10+ round magazines (owned by over 100,000 residents)
- Updating the above using NICS and other data could have nearly 1,000,000 firearms and more than 3,500,000 magazines currently owned by Connecticut residents
- OLR estimates the cost of a NO-GRANDFATHERING law could exceed $100-200MILLION in direct and indirect costs as well as forgone economic activity
- No-grandfathering will create tens of thousand of NON-COMPLIANT resistors out of currently law-abiding citizens – are our police, courts and jails ready for that?
My suggestion is an approach that would LEAD THE NATION in such laws:
- Semi-automatic pistol (magazine in handgrip) magazine capacity limit at the LESSER of the design capacity of that model (magazine not to protrude more than ½” below base of grip) OR17 rounds.
- Semi-automatic rifle detachable magazine limit of 30/10 rounds
- Semi-automatic "assault/machine pistol" (magazine in place other than handgrip) 10 rounds
- Grandfathering of existing magazines that meet the above criteria
- Ban sales, transfer or possession of any magazine with a capacity IN EXCESS OF 30 ROUNDS with NO GRANDFATHERING (i.e. remove them from circulation in CT)
- Exclude from the above magazines designed for rim-fire ammunition (i.e. 22LR caliber)
This plan would strike a SENSIBLE COMPROMISE:
- REDUCE potential carnage due to massive continuous firepower in any future rampage shooting
- MINIMIZE THE IMPACT on law-abiding handgun owners from using their full design-capacity of their self-defense pistols
- Be less susceptible to being ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL in the future
- Would remove from legal possession all MASSIVE CAPACITY MAGAZINES like:
- 30+ round pistol magazines as used in Gabby Giffords shooting
- 40+ round rifle magazines as used in Columbine School and Aurora movie theater
In the above, I use 30/10 for semi-auto rifle magazine limits because 30-rounds is the current "standard capacity" of every such rifle as it is shipped from the factory. Estimates suggest that there may be 50 to 100MILLION such magazines in the USA at this time (over 1MILLION in CT today). They are widely available, in "common use" (Scalia's term in Heller) and no law is every going to deprive the motivated criminal or insane person from getting them. Thus, in my mind, 30-rounds is a sensible limit that may pass Constitutional challenge and can actually be enforceable.
That said, the /10 is to recognize that some readers are screaming at their computers right now telling me I am insane to think that 30-rounds is not high capacity. Thus, I offer you a 10-round suggestion for rifles and "assault pistols" should you actually agree that a seperate limit for rifles, pistols and APs is sensible.
If anyone has the ear of any legislator in Hartford, I would ask that you consider forwarding this to them if you think a one-size-fits-all 10-round limit with no grandfathering is more likely than the current status quo.
Thanks - TP