With the amount of ink that has been spilled in the matter of gun control, you would think that we might have reached some sensible conclusions. Yet once again, on this subject stupidity continues to glow like lights on a Christmas tree. The most recent rush of brain fever comes from Federal Judge William Skretny in a ruling on the amount of ammunition that could be loaded into a gun. Governor Cuomo and his allies in the legislature were trying to put limits on the number of bullets that could be inserted into a magazine. They agreed, finally, that ten-round magazines could be used, provided that only seven rounds were actually loaded. The absurdity of this rule should have been obvious on the face of it: hunters could load as many rounds into the magazine as it would hold, and on the rare chance that a game warden appeared, he could rapidly dump out some of the rounds and pocket them.
Yet, Judge Skretny took the absurdity even further. In his ruling, he said that such limits might result in “pitting the criminal with a fully loaded magazine against a law-abiding citizen limited to seven rounds.” This decision occasioned a few thoughts:
1: How often is a law-abiding citizen confronted by a criminal with a loaded weapon? I have never heard of anyone I know being thus threatened. Criminals intent on theft invariably chose to break into an empty house where they won’t confront an armed home-owner, a vicious guard dog, and so forth. Incidents of an ordinary city-dweller being challenged by a robber are so rare that they usually occasion headlines in the tabloids.
2: If the citizen is actually challenged by a gun-toting criminal on the street, or climbing through a window, the chance of him firing at the intruder before being shot himself are very small, unless he happens to be holding a pistol in hand as he is walking along Seventh Avenue or holding it under the pillow as he is lying bed.
3: At close range, neither the criminal nor his victim will be able to get off more than two or three shots before one or both of them are hors de combat, probably by being dead. It therefore matters little whether the gun can hold seven or ten rounds: two or three will suffice. Furthermore, if we suppose, in what The New York Times calls a “fantastical scenario,” that several intruders arrive as a gang, it is even less likely that the hapless citizen will be able to get off a shot or two—if that—before being gunned down.
4: It will be argued that hunters need the ability to load their guns with a good many rounds in pursuit of their quarry. However, whether you are after deer, pheasant, partridge or woodchucks, by the time the hunter has got off a couple of shots, the quarry will be high-tailing it into the distance. The chances of having time to get off seven aimed shots are remote, unless the first couple of shots brings the animal down; and in that case, the hunter need only approach the wounded animal and finish if off with a single shot.
Clearly, there is no need for a magazine loaded with seven shots, much less ten. The only exception might be for target practice at a rifle range or at home, as I do, in a carefully protected area. Even then, loading the gun to the hilt isn’t necessary; reloading after firing a few shots is no big problem.
I have no doubt that Judge Skretny is well-meaning and values our civil rights, but in this particular ruling, he has lost touch with reality.