The Daily Need

A clip by any other name

It has been a week since we broadcast and posted my “In Perspective” piece arguing for the regulation of magazines like the one allegedly used in the Tucson shootings. Hundreds (and thousands, if you read the Huffington Post version) of comments later, I have learned two things.

First, as so many gun enthusiasts wrote, I should have avoided calling the 33-round magazine a “clip,” which is the term I have always used. Then again, if the Second Amendment purists had not found a terminological target, then they would not have had much else to say. Which brings me to the second lesson. While I understand the personal-defense argument and think it the strongest countercase, I do not believe there are enough gunfights between malefactors and law-abiding citizens to outweigh the lesson of Tucson: that such oversized magazines raise the risk of indiscriminate massacre.

Let’s try the 1994-2004 rules again. It is a debate worth having.

Read more In Perspective essays from Jon Meacham

 
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Comments

  • Downzero8249

    What effect did the so called assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004 have on gun violence?

  • Downzero8249

    Funny how after over 800 comments to the original piece all you saw was people complaing about incorrect terminology.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514909929 Tim Deschene

    The only thing the 1994 Ban did was outlaw new high capacity magazines, made during the ban, to be purchased by non-law enforcement personnel. Pre-ban magazines could be purchased, at slightly higher prices due to demand, just as before the law. The AWB was smoke and mirrors to make people think something was being done to fight crime.

  • Net_owl_104

    I was once strongly FOR gun control. Now, living in a state where most people own guns and where few people are shot in their homes (probably because would-be malefactors know everybody has his own gun) I have changed my mind. Whoever said guns keep people polite had it right.

  • Michaelhoffman03

    The result of the assault ban was less dead police officers, which unfortunately is now on the rise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514909929 Tim Deschene

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/02leoka.pdf

    Most Law Enforcement Officers are killed by handguns. The AWB had no effect on police deaths.

  • Fantasticmurray

    How about we end these illegal wars first? And hell, y’all see cops murder people in the streets all the time and you don’t hear dick about it from the establishment media.

    One law for them. Another law for us!

  • Underwhelmed

    I kinda had a similar reaction to this as Downzero…800 comments and that is your response…I find it hard to believe that all 800 people were chiding you for your use of the term clip…I suspect you had arguments regarding the efficacy of the AWB, and Second Amendment rights, and mental illness, and you might disagree with all of them, but it seem sort of useless to put up this response…

  • Downzero8249

    I’ll have to disagree with the “slightly higher prices”. The prices were very high and the supply dried up fairly soon. The “smoke and mirrors” is correct. I’ve yet to see anyone that is for reinstating the “ban” produce any credible facts to indicate it did any good the first time or that since it’s expired things have gotten worse.

    I

  • oskar

    You can’t stop crazy when all the mental hospitals were closed in the 80′s! Gee what a fabulous idea! Get the f@ck out! go wherever scum! This country could careless about anything but money! I just priced those clips on tuesday. The .45 was $149.99.. 31 rounder. Heck you can buy a mini rocket gernade launcher from the far,far east for $50.00 dollars! And the U.S. is worried about a 31 round clip? DUH!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.fey Mark Fey

    @Downzero8249

    Here’s a tip: Use a search engine to find the answer to your questions, this is not a hard one to find.

  • Tothiro

    Dude. Don’t call them clips. They’re Magazines.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325078716 Trish Schaefer-Montgomery

    Hand guns are terrible for self defense. If you live in a multifamily complex from a duplex to an apartment complex to a group home, you take a huge chance you’ll hit someone in an adjoining room. You also have that issue if you neighbors live within ten feet of your house, too. The best home self defense is a sawed off shotgun. Period. If you want to keep a small caliber with, hand sized gun you in your purse, fine. But anything bigger is just something the bad guy is going to steal after her kills you anyway. Absolutely ban semi-autos and the ammo. Guns and ammo made for no other reason than to kill lots of people, should be kept in the realm of the police and military only.

  • Guest 5

    Clip, magazine, whatever its not the point!! The point is, is it really necessary to have a gun, (any kind of instrument that shoots bullets) that can without reloading shoot say 30 or more people. if its purpose is self defence. And please remember if the law says yes we all can have a gun but max say capable of firing off 6 shots. that levels the playing field.
    More powerful and specialised weapons restricted to police and national guard which latter to me is the ” regulated militia” in todays US environment.
    The start point is to reduce the numbers of Licensed premises that can sell guns to individuals, proper restrictions like none for convicted criminals, especially those who used guns in crime and nay person mentally unstable per state records and nationally.
    Cooling off period of 1 month before selling the gun so the dealer can check police data bases, and forward details to police, who can then check school records, and other crime databases.All purchasers must produce an application with three references:
    1) From the last school attended/cpllege attended.
    2) From his local doctor
    3) From an independent lawyer, accountant, architect or other professional who has known the person for 3 years at least as a character reference.
    All this avoids the nonsense debate that it not the gun that kills ( please note that is what it is designed to do unlike a car) but the shooter and he must or she must always be somehow mentally unstable. Be that as it may a gun law that allows even the mentall unstable to Kill or injure 30 plus people withour re-loading is not what the 2nd amendment ever envisaged as such guns did not exist and they probably never imagined they would, and if they did would probably have made sure the hevier type fire power was restricted to the ” regulated militia”.
    None of the above takes away the constitutional right to have gun ( hunting and sport guns can have separate regulations) openly ( not concealed) and provided when carrying you carry your license as well
    QED criminals concealing a gun are already committing a crime and when exposed to further thier ends commit another crime = harsher sentence.
    Face facts under existing laws in the US there are more gun deaths per capita than any where else in the world other than states at war or under terrorist attacks. Trying to justify assualt weapons for individual defence is pathetic, based on strict reading of the 2nd amendment!!
    Regards,
    Guest 5

  • jj

    If there was only one legally armed, “trained”, “law abiding” citizen in an incident like Tucson, I think a crazy guy would not have enough time to use all of those rounds. Arm yourself and train in an NRA certified program for handgun defense. Starting with school teachers, airline pilots and crews etc its free for these personnel in some of the best schools inthe country.

  • Supernova

    I am a gun advocate, owner, user, and defender of its individual freedom. My father was a police officer (retired), I have hunted much of my life and I possess a concealed handgun permit (which I use)… However, I must say these are not the muskets of our forefathers that we’re talking about (high capacity magazines combined with semi-automatic or automatic weapons), and I wonder if they (the founders) really thought their amendment would (or should) be used to give individual right to possess (and use) this type of weapon that can clearly inflict such massive lethal damage on so many people by just ONE INDIVIDUAL??? With the increasing lethality of weapons must come some reasonable discourse on just what constitutes individual rights to bear arms, even what constitutes ‘arms’. The naysayers (NRA) will tell those fearful and mistrusting of government (or liberals) that this is just the beginning, they’re coming for ALL your guns like the bogeyman in the night, but it is simply not true. Is 50 rounds enough? Maybe they come up with something to hold 100 rounds? Where is the line drawn? Do some believe there should be no line? Really?

  • FoundingFathersThinkYerNuts

    You americans are funny. Rome was the the superpower of its day, and look what happened to it. Your society is going to self-destruct in time thanks to the very laws of evolution that way too many of you are too stupid or too superstitious to consider scientific fact. Rome at least had at least a millennium and then some. The US of A is going to shoot itself up with its addiction to weapons, war, and Jesus in well under three centuries. But that’s okay. Someone new, like China or India, is overdue their turn.

    Oh, and when I served in the military, we would never call a weapon you hold in the hands a “gun”, which is technically either a large piece of field artillery or something on the deck of a warship. Correctly, it is a pistol or handgun, and the long ones held up to the shoulders are of course rifles, shotguns, muskets, blunderbusses, etc., but never, heaven forbid, just “guns”.

  • Johny

    You seem pleased with ‘our’ destruction as you so clearly postulate. How nice of you. And, in America the term ‘gun’ is often used for all of your examples, but to be sure they all have their own proper names to distinguish them as you have so graciously supplied. A final word; in life, it’s best to not be so smug.

  • Johny

    “laws of evolution that way too many of you are too stupid or too superstitious to consider scientific fact.” What does this have to do with our “addiction to weapons” as you call it? Either you really don’t understand America or you have your head up YerAss.

  • Downzero8249

    We don’t need cars that go 100 mph either, go check your speedometer.

    A shotgun will penetrate walls just like a handgun round. Modern self defence ammo limits penetrates in rifle and handgun ammo.

    you obviously have no idea what the second ammendment is all about.

  • Downzero8249

    If you think the ultimate goal of the gun grabbers is anything other than the complete disarming of American citizens your just being nieve. Do some research.

    Does anyone think if the Az. shooter would have pulled out two six shot revolvers and killled 12 people the gun control advocates would have stayed quite?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1108893387 Jen Velic

    “The US of A is going to shoot itself up with its addiction to weapons, war, and Jesus in well under three centuries. ”

    You are correct. This is the most true statement I have heard in a long time. And I’m an American. We can’t see past our own damn noses, apparently. Thanks for some perspective. It’s just too bad some are too xenophobic to see it…

  • Kristofur

    with the way the right has been demonizing teachers I am suprised that they would want those over paid, incompetent, unionized socialists to have guns in the classroom.

  • Middrae80

    Your. You are. You’re. Learn the difference.

    Gun control advocates want to all disarm crazy / stupid people, for sure. But that isn’t the point. The whole point of the original article and this followup above is a very specific argument against oversized magazines, which have been used in EVERY murderous rampage in recent history, which makes your second paragraph as stupid as your grammatical mistakes. Wake up.

  • Downzero8249

    Care to supply some facts about “oversized magazines” being used in “EVERY” muderous rampage in recent history.The Virginai Tech shooter didn’t use 30 round mags and still killed 30 people.

    Just what is “oversized”

    The pistol used in Az. was designed to hold a 15 round mag. My guess is you don’t like that many rounds in a magazine either.

  • Downzero8249

    I already know the answer. The ban did nothing to reduce crime. The gun grabbers know it too, otherwise they would be throwing the statistics to prove the ban worked in our faces everyday.

  • http://twitter.com/AztecRed Epic Monkey

    “Let’s try the 1994-2004 rules again. It is a debate worth having.”

    No. It’s not. I refuse to be punished for the actions of someone else.

  • bob andersen

    the second amendment has nothing to do with what type of arms, it was there to prevent a tyrannical government from having lethal superiority over the citizenry. obviously, that didnt work out so well… Strict constructionists consider the idea of the second amendment as a way for the forefathers to insure a society free of tyranny, fascism, etc… that said,in keeping with “original intent”, it would be best to scale back the military substantially or make predator drones available for sale at Wal Mart

  • CCb

    “If there was only one legally armed, “trained”, “law abiding” citizen in an incident like Tucson, I think a crazy guy would not have enough time to use all of those rounds.”

    Your scenario is only likely to be true if the citizen was trained to level of someone in law enforcement.

    Even people who have had handgun combat training sometimes hit the friendly targets in their competition matches. But the typical gun owning citizen gets very little, if any, training. And even if they have some training, it’s likely self-defense home invasion oriented.

    Imagine this instead – A real-life combat situation, in this crowd of people a half dozen minimal trained, or untrained citizens, all pull out their guns at the same time, all try to asses who the shooter is (remember now seven people are holding guns), there is screaming, there are gunshots, people are running, people are lying bloody on the ground. What happens next?

    Mistakes will be made. I’d expect more carnage, not less.

  • Jmiller

    You said, “Then again, if the Second Amendment purists had not found a terminological target, then they would not have had much else to say.”

    Since you paint with a relatively broad brush allow me the same latitude. Gun control purists often make the mistake of focussing on the weapon. Rather than wondering how many bullets he could shoot, the question worth asking is how we can prevent mentally deranged and dangerous people from getting weapons while still allowing sane, and rational members of society to purchase them? Background checks are acceptable to prevent felons from purchasing weapons, perhaps a small, short psychological assessment could be included in getting a “license to purchase.” I know, I know, the second amendment allows us the ‘right’ to bear arms, not the privilege, but putting weapons in the hands of people who are ready willing and able to hurt others but just haven’t had the opportunity yet does not make the citizenry safer no matter how many other law abiding citizens might also be armed in the crowd ready to stop him.

  • Downzero8249

    Then where is all the carnage. 48 states allow concealed carry.Citizens use fireams over 2 million times a year to protect themselves or others. Shouldn’t there be some evidence of these untrained armed citizens shooting the wrong people?

    This argument has been used everytime a state gets ready to allow concealed carry or relax gun laws. Yet after the laws are passed there is no eveidence of an increase in crime or a rash of legallly armed people shooting innocent people.

  • Justhinkinoutloud

    Mr Meacham says he doesn’t believe there are many private-citizen defensive gunfights, but FBI statistics list about 300 justifiable homicides (not just gunfights, actual killings) each year, and some say that the FBI figures might under-report by a factor of 5. Total number of defensive firearm uses (including those were no shot is fired) may be 2 million annually.
    He then states that the lesson of Tucson is that “oversized” magazines raise the risk of indiscriminate massacre, but he doesn’t show that mass shootings were lower during the Assault Weapon Ban–which neither prevented the legal ownership of such magazines nor the ownersip of multiple guns (which would be the logical substitute to avoid reloading), and certailnly didn’t prevent their illegal ownership or use.
    How many bullets are enough for self-defense? What will the attack look like? Will you have other magazines, and use of two uninjured arms? Police will tell you that their handguns are there “just in case”–that if they know there’s going to be trouble, they’ll get a long gun. So, I’d say if you can get a police department to say they don’t need magazines over 10 rounds, then that can apply to everyone–but if police need them “just in case,” maybe others do, too.
    And that’s without even bringing up rights…

  • Supernova

    Believe what you will, this blog or any other won’t change your mind (nor should it). I understand the fear and mistrust, especially in people (and ideals) you can label, even demonize. However, I feel yours is misguided in this case. Thus, it works for those who use it (the fear). I still say you’re wrong for most of America. “Gun Grabbers” as you label them ( I assume you mean people who advocate for prohibition of ALL firearms including for hunting, antiques, etc.) are a vast minority. If anyone is naive, it would be them. Guns are a part of our individual freedom and collective history, for good or naught. I simply think there’s room for interpretation on how we can best preserve the 2nd Amendment (and all that it means to MILLIONS of gun owners) while considering the risk to innocent lives. Nothing is black and white, so don’t be so coy as to assume it is, for you risk others besides just yourself with such nonsense.

  • Johny

    Your answer to all our problems would be? And, I’m pretty sure your big word applies to most human cultures of the world, in fact it’s a central part of why cultures inherently resist change. For all our problems, there are far more apt examples of xenophobic people elsewhere in the world, not just the US. Our nation is diverse. It causes us problems (to be sure), but we face them. Get involved and make a difference. It’s your home.

  • http://denialator.blogspot.com/ denialator

    WE get the point behind the argument of allowing law abiding citizens to legally obtain, or not obtain oversized magazines. The main point of which is…what about it?

    How many crimes are committed by law-abiding citizens with these large magazines? Not many, I’ll bet. Do criminals embrace these same laws? We have over 43,000 people die in automobile crashes each year in the U.S. Why do we not make laws to restrict maximum allowable speeds to below 10mph? Why do we not outlaw automobiles? Motorcycles?

    It’s usually those criminal minds which become animated by conspiracy to commit murder in the first place, therefore it is foolish to restrict others whose freedom and rights will be destroyed in the process. It also emboldens criminals, therefore the whole article is over a mute point. Get it?

  • BambiB

    >> “clip,” which is the term I have always used.
    This is just an admission that you have always been wrong…

    But let’s put this in context: The primary purpose of the Second Amendment is so the People can overthrow their own government. When going to war against one’s government, large magazines are an advantage that should not be lightly disregarded. Yes, it’s an extreme form of self-defense, but given the latest revelations about the government’s purchase of 1.6 BILLION rounds of ammunition which are not suitable to range practice (on cost basis) and cannot be used in war (Geneva Convention), it makes sense to ask, “Why is our government paying double the normal price of range ammo for bullets that can only be used to kill Americas? And why has it bought enough to fight the Iraq War for 20 years, or to shoot every American five times each?”

    Add to that the latest leaks about how the government has engaged in wholesale surveillance of the entire citizenry, how emails, phone calls, text messages and every other form of electronic communication is intercepted, stored and searched, and you begin to see a police state that would have made Stalin, Hitler and Mao insanely jealous!

    Why haven’t we had an overt dictatorship in this Country? Why hasn’t the heavy hand of government been wrapped tightly about the throat of ever citizen?

    Guns.

    We are the most heavily-armed citizenry on the face of the planet. Not only would it be insanity for anyone to try to conquer us, but it would be suicide for the government to overstep its bounds to the point of raising public ire to fighting levels. Armed Americans outnumber our combined military forces by nearly 100 to 1.

    Enjoying freedom much? Thank a gun owner.

  • BambiB

    Religion is bunk. America’s wars are having the same effect as Rome’s wars… it’s just that when we go down, everyone else will go down with us. But weapons are not the problem. Our violent crime rate is actually quite a bit lower than those countries who were foolish enough to strip their citizens of the means of self-defense. The University of Leiden found that Australian and the UK had the highest rates of violent crime. The US didn’t even make the top 10.

  • Anonymous

    Exactness is correctness and neither lessen the value of the subject matter at hand. Why subject oneself to unnecessary rebuke when this can so easily be avoided by not confusing “apples with oranges” by saying they are fruit? Clips are not magazines anymore than revolvers are automatics–case closed!