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No gun owner needs 30 rounds in a magazine

No gun owner needs 30 rounds in a magazine

Our view: Carnage of Jan. 8 underscores need to reinstate ban that ended in 2004

  • Updated

"I guess the one thing that I can't get through my mind, even though I'm a hunter and I love to shoot a gun, I love to have my gun. I don't have a Glock or whatever it is. I don't have a magazine with 33 bullets in it.

"That doesn't make sense for me, to be able to sell those kinds of things. ... What reason is there to have those kinds of guns, other than to kill people? I just don't understand that."

- Dallas Green, grandfather of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting.

Christina-Taylor Green's killer carried a 9 mm Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun with one bullet chambered and 30 more in an extended-capacity ammunition magazine.

He emptied the gun in about 30 seconds. Thirty seconds - to kill six people and wound 13. The carnage ended only when the killer stopped to reload and bystanders wrestled him to the ground and disarmed him.

Jared Lee Loughner, who is accused in the killings, bought both a lethal handgun and extended-capacity magazines legally.

That must change. From 1994 until 2004, when a federal ban on military-style assault weapons was allowed to expire, such supersized magazines were outlawed. That ban should be reinstated.

The 1994 federal law had flaws. For instance, magazines manufactured before 1994 remained on the market. But at least no new ones were legally sold.

Opponents of such a ban argue that civilian gun owners "need" supersized loads and that by banning sales of new extended-capacity magazines, we only create a booming market for the older ones.

As Charles Heller, secretary of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, told us last week, "If you come out in the editorial ... in favor of a ban, one of things you do is you tend to excite the nuts, and it's the nuts that go after this stuff. Most of the serious shooters don't really care that much about the super-high-capacity stuff. ... You have a tendency to drive the nuts into the marketplace if you advocate for a ban."

Further, Heller warned, a ban would fuel the market by transforming what's now a $100 extended-capacity magazine into a $300 item.

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, wrote last week in U.S. News & World Report that "honest Americans - private citizens and police alike - choose magazines that hold more than 10 rounds" because "they improve good people's odds in defensive situations."

Cox went on, saying anti-gun activists ask, "Who needs these magazines?" The answer, he wrote, is that "Good Americans - police and private citizens - do. Good Americans must always be able to choose the tools that will give them the best chance of surviving in the worst situations."

The logic of these arguments against a ban doesn't hold up. Should good Americans also be free to opt for defending themselves with, say, small nuclear warheads? Or rocket-propelled grenades?

Cox writes that gun owners also use super-capacity magazines for "competitive or recreational shooting, as key parts of collectible firearms, and for other lawful purposes."

We do not believe the average civilian has a "need" for extended-capacity magazines, not for self-defense and certainly not for offensive reasons.

Ten rounds in a magazine is enough - for recreational or for the very rare occasion when a gun owner must defend himself from attack. Ten rounds is the limit that was imposed for 10 years in the federal assault-weapons ban. Ten rounds is the limit that would be imposed by a bill in Congress introduced by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat, and by a bill in the Arizona Legislature, introduced by Tucson Democratic Rep. Steven Farley.

This is one of those gun-control questions where we come down in the middle, and where we believe gun owners must compromise as well. There's no way to prevent all shooting rampages, but we can reduce the amount of carnage shooters are equipped to do.

It's time to ban extended-capacity magazines again.

Arizona Daily Star


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