To be fair, former VP Dick Cheney finally points out that the real proximate cause of the Tucson massacre was the insanity of the gunman, but that won’t be the takeaway for gun-control advocates. Cheney joins some critics in at least considering a size limitation on magazines for semi-automatic pistols. Jared Lee Loughner used a larger magazine of 33 rounds in the pistol, which has given rise to a call to impose limits on clips magazines for personal use:
However, Loughner had more magazines on him when arrested — including two standard 15-shot magazines:
Authorities in Tucson say the suspect in Saturday’s shooting had three more pistol magazines with him when he was tackled.
The Pima County sheriff’s office on Friday says an extended clip was found nearby and Jared Loughner had two more 15-round magazines in his pockets, though it doesn’t say if any of those were loaded.
Would a limitation on gun magazines have prevented the tragedy? Certainly Loughner would have fired the first 15 shots without any problem, and reloading may or may not have given him time to shoot another 15. Loughner prepared for a longer shooting spree, but was foiled when brave witnesses tackled and detained him. It’s difficult to determine whether Loughner had bullets in his gun at the time.
I don’t normally shoot semiautomatic pistols, so I have no personal insight on magazine size. Target shooting would be simplified with larger magazines, but for personal protection, fifteen bullets would suffice in most exigent circumstances. Certainly gun rights advocates will worry about slippery slopes in allowing magazine limitation laws to come into force, but Cheney notes that we have already had these with little impact on the practice of bearing guns. Would this be a common-sense reaction to the shootings in Tucson, or a useless measure that would limit law-abiding citizens and prevent nothing? I’m inclined to believe the latter.
Update: Several readers have objected to the use of the word “clip,” which I’ve changed to “magazine” throughout.