As bad as the pace and scope of the nation’s mass shootings have become, with death tallies sometimes counted in the dozens, chances are good that they are only going to get worse.
And you can blame gun manufacturers and firearms enthusiasts who are driving a market for ever-larger high-capacity gun magazines.
The Trace reports that firearms accessory manufacturers are “have developed a new generation of high-capacity magazines,” some holding 100 or more cartridges, meaning a gunman can more easily fire that many bullets before having to switch magazines.
With an average user of a semi-automatic rifle or handgun firing about two bullets per second (a separate trigger pull for each discharge), a 10-round clip — the largest legally allowed in California — would be depleted in about five seconds.
But a gunman with a 100-round clip, legal in most states and not covered by federal law, can fire continuously for nearly a minute before reloading.
Go ahead, count out the 50 seconds. We’ll wait.
Now imagine being in a crowd of folks targeted by someone armed with such firepower.
But, you know, Second Amendment and all that.
There is no rational reason for such equipment to be readily available — in many cases without so much as a background check — to civilians.
Gun enthusiasts say they need the firepower for entertainment on the firing range.
Paranoid antigovernment folks argue they need it to protect against tyranny.
Home-protection buffs believe they need to be armed like Rambo to defend themselves against intruders (though statistics show the presence of guns in the home, no matter the capacity, is much more likely to lead to domestic gun incidents or suicides than to chase off the bad guys).
The reality is that such high-capacity magazines and the weapons they feed were designed for combat and, like the assault-style weapons themselves, have now seeped into civilian use, endangering us all.
It’s insane that elected leaders side with the gun lobby over public safety and common sense. Military-style weapons, including accessories like high-capacity magazines, do not belong in the hands of civilians.
The Trace’s report says that “the perpetrators of some of the most high-profile shootings over the last five years involved magazines with capacities over 30 rounds,” including the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people at a country music festival less than two years ago.
That killer augmented his weapons with so-called bump stocks, which converted semi-automatic rifles into nearly fully automatic ones. The federal government’s response? It banned the bump stocks.
So why won’t it also ban the magazines that those bump stocks made more efficient?
Congress did prohibit outsize magazines and assault weapons in 1994 as part of a sweeping anti-crime bill. But lawmakers let those provisions expire in 2004, and Congress has refused to renew or revive them ever since.
But hey, what’s a little more carnage as long as the electeds remain in the good graces of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby it represents?