Changing clips sometimes takes more than ‘a second’

Changing clips sometimes takes more than 'a second'
Changing clips sometimes takes more than 'a second'
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Opponents of new gun laws have struggled at times to explain why limits on high-capacity gun clips are a bad idea. These limits aren’t unconstitutional; they don’t affect hunters; and they don’t prevent Americans from buying firearms to protect themselves. They might, however, help take the “mass” out of “mass shootings.”

So why balk? Wayne LaPierre argued yesterday that such limits are unnecessary because they’d have no practical value – the speed with which a shooter can change clips is just too quick.

National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre said Tuesday that there was no evidence smaller magazines would have resulted in fewer deaths at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school where 20 children and six educators were killed late last year.

“People that know guns – you can change magazine clips in a second,” LaPierre told Fox News. “There’s no evidence that anything would have changed.”

Actually, there’s some evidence that the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary paused to reload during the massacre, and it changed quite a bit. Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son Dylan was killed, said this week, “We have learned that in the time it took him to reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape. We ask ourselves every day – every minute – if those magazines had held 10 rounds, forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children be alive today?”

But let’s also consider this notion that people who “know guns” can change “in a second.” Is that true?

I’m not an expert, but as I understand it, there’s something to this – experienced and well-trained gun owners can, in fact, swap out one magazine for another very quickly. Maybe not “a second,” but close.*

That said, what I’d like folks involved in the debate to do is imagine the possible circumstances. Can an experienced police officer change clips quickly? Yes. But what about a crazed madman in the middle of a massacre? If a lunatic has to pause after 10 rounds, and have to switch to another clip, during which time he can tackled or targets can escape, doesn’t that necessarily improve the survival odds of his possible victims?

And if so, why would the NRA and its political allies so strongly oppose these limits?

* Update: OK, for some fast-reload enthusiasts, it turns out the “in a second” comment is literally true. In fact, for some folks, the process is under a second – take a look at how fast this guy can move.

But as an insightful reader reminded me today this doesn’t detract from the larger point. Some folks can practice reloading quickly and become extremely proficient at it. Similarly, folks can practice lock-picking, and become quite adept at doing this quickly, too.

We don’t, however, abandon door locks. Likewise, giving up on limiting clip size because some specialists can reload in a flash is equally absurd.