Why Banning High-Capacity Magazines Will Not Save Lives

The politicians in Washington and many state capitals will soon make a run at gun control. They won't call it that, but that's what it will be. One of the things they go after will be so-called "assault weapons" and so-called "high-capacity" ammunition magazines.

"Assault weapons" have no firm definition. They are modern firearms that writers of liberal legalese don't like. They look mean. They may have a pistol grip or a folding stock. They are not more powerful than other weapons of the same caliber. They are less powerful than many other weapons available. The AR-15 that makes headlines these days is not a cannon. AR-15s are not popular because they are especially powerful. There are more powerful guns available legally. They are popular because they are sexy and because you can trick them out to suit your individual taste. And the ammunition they fire is cheap and easy to find.

"High-capacity" is also a subjective adjective when used to describe magazines or anything else. What is "high" in terms of capacity? 30 rounds? 20? 10? The first is higher than the last, and the last is more than a single-shot firearm or most revolvers can hold.

Let's define "high-capacity" as 30 rounds, then, just for the sake of defining it. Would banning 30-round magazines stop killers like the one in Newtown?

Not if he has access to any lower-capacity magazines, the Internet, and some masking or duct tape. If he has those three things, he could run a Google search, watch a short video, and then do this. It's called "jungle tape," and it gets around the limit of a given magazine's capacity.



In the video, some fellow tapes a pair of what appear to be 30-round magazines together. You AK-47 owners out there, feel free to correct me if I got that wrong. The gentleman takes two of those magazines and turns them into what amounts to a 60-round magazine just by taking a minute to tape them together. He could take two more and do the same thing, and he has two jungle-taped magazines that will hold 120 rounds, which he could fire from that AK-47 at nearly a round per second semiautomatically. He would have to pause a few times to flip the taped magazines around, but if there is no armed opposition, those seconds won't matter very much.

So go ahead and ban the 30-round magazines. Anyone with any level of skill with a roll of tape can turn 10-round magazines into 20-round magazines in a few seconds. In a few more seconds they'll have two 20-round magazines, and in a few more, they'll have more. Firearm owners who abide by the law will have their non-jungle taped maximum magazine capacity reduced to 10 rounds. Those who do not abide by the law will either obtain higher-capacity illegal magazines, or they will make them. It doesn't take a genius to do it and you can't ban sheet metal, springs and machine shop tools, or books, or the Internet, or brains. Who really wins here?