NY limits on magazine size won’t slow determined killers, firearms experts say

Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

New York’s new law limiting the number of bullets in semiautomatic rifle magazines won’t stop determined mass killers, firearms experts said yesterday.

It takes six to eight seconds to fire off a 30-round magazine like that used in the Newtown killings, said Joseph Green, a retired firearms instructor and agent of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

A well-trained shooter would need roughly 13.5 to 22 seconds to fire off the same number of bullets with six magazines of five rounds each, which are legal in New York.

A shooter needs 1.5 seconds to swap out each cartridge, and each five-round cartridge takes one to two seconds to shoot.

Killers facing stressful situations — such as a lot of screaming people — might need a bit more time to swap cartridges, Green said.

But he and other experts say swapping magazines means just a minor delay for determined mass killers.

“It’s not difficult for someone proficient to change magazines. It will take you a few more seconds, nothing longer,” said John Cerar, a retired NYPD deputy inspector and former head of the firearms-training unit.

Full story.

10 Responses to “NY limits on magazine size won’t slow determined killers, firearms experts say”

  1. MT Geoff on 17/17/13 at 9:39 am

    I’m taking a heavy discount on this “expert”.
    First, the usual terminology is “magazine”, as in “swap out magazines” rather than “each cartridge” since a cartridge is usually one round of ammunition. So it’s very strange to hear an expert talk about “Killers facing stressful situations — such as a lot of screaming people — might need a bit more time to swap cartridges, Green said.”
    Now that could be just a typo or an error by the reporter.
    Second, swapping magazines does take a few moments. If the shooter is slaughtering innocents, the swap may be meaningless but Loughner was tackled as he fumbled with a magazine change. Anything that delays a shooter interferes with what the shooter is doing.
    Third, it’s a lot more difficult to carry nine ten-round magazines than it is to carry three thirty-round magazines. Of course it’s possible and it’s easy to accumulate a lot of magazines — but it is more difficult.
    Finally, none of that is very germaine to mass public shootings or the issue of law-abiding citizens having the magazines we choose. The Second Amendment secures a right — perhaps identifies a duty but that’s a reach — for individuals (“the people”) to keep and bear arms suitable for military use. Suitable for military use, meaning comparable to the small arms issued by our armed forces.

  2. Jon Brooks on 17/17/13 at 10:07 am

    At some open competitive matches I have watched people competing with revolvers, rather than semi-auto’s, speed loading as fast as I could change my .45 magazine. It is always up to the individual and practice practice practice.

    At an IPPSC match one time involving mandatory: 3 magazine changes, 3 shooting stance changes after moving, and 18 rounds downrange total, I beat a very well known competitor…in hit score..95 out of 108 possible to his 84 out of 108 total. Unfortunately your total final score was your hit score divided by your time, stop-watched by the range officer. What took me 44 or so seconds to do, he did in 18.6 seconds.

    So using the following logic: if you decrease magazine size by 1/3 (15 to 10 rounds) but you have a person twice as fast (or more) as the average person doing the shooting, it really isn’t going to matter much in victim count if they go off the deep end one day.

    And adrenalin speeds everyone up by and large.

  3. MT Geoff on 17/17/13 at 12:00 pm

    Howdy Jon Brooks
    It’s worth noting that the shooters in recent public shootings haven’t, as far as I can tell, been competitors in shooting events like the ones you describe. Anyone can change magazines quickly with just a little practice.
    The people who seriously study shooting and who win competitions have been responsible owners and users of guns. The demons may have practiced some but I haven’t heard any of them identified as regular shooters and competitors. There are some reports that Adam Lanza did shoot regularly with his mother.

  4. Jon Brooks on 17/17/13 at 12:44 pm

    Hi MT Goeff,

    Sorry. I wasn’t trying to place blame on competitive shooters, or even serious recreational shooters or even 99.99% of responsible gun owners, to all of whom, safety is probably the number one issue before anything else. I was trying to illustrate that a magazine reduction of 1/3 or so in capacity will do almost nothing to drastically reduce the body count of a determined shooter. I have assumed (which may be my error really) that a determined crazy, who plans his massacre would undoubtedly practice in secret… alot… if he can. He would probably go thru step by step what he would do up to the point of saving that one last bullet for himself.

    We are probably dealing with higher than average IQ people in these cases that go off the deep end and probably take into account a myriad of factors on how many they can kill, in the shortest time possible, because once they start, time becomes their enemy too.

    Along with the standard prescouting of location, exits, times, etc. they probably figure, for instance, where people will bunch up in the panic they will create, so one hi-velocity round can penetrate several at once. As Mickey Rourke said in the ‘The Last Outlaw’…”inventory”.

    My apologies to any responsible safety concious gun owners (which includes me), if the opposite import was taken.

  5. MT Geoff on 17/17/13 at 3:22 pm

    Howdy Jon
    Oh, gosh, I never took your comment as a slam at responsible shooters at all!
    It’s very fuzzy whether the Loughner-class shooters have generally done much practice or not. Holmes acquired his equipment in stages but I don’t know how much practicing he did — or how many times he changed magazines.
    Without saying that we should ban standard magazines (30 for rifle, around 17 for pistol), or even large mags (100-round rifle mags, 30-round pistol mags), it remains a fact that a crazed shooter has to work harder if he (they’ve all been he) has to swap magazines more often.
    I can put 10 aimed shots from my cowboy rifle downrange in around 15 seconds — but my reload time is probably close to a minute for a full tube magazine. Our fast shooters can empty the rifle in less than 10 seconds and hit 8 of 10 but their reload time is about the same. And of course that’s why military forces have used magazines since the late 1800s.

  6. MT Geoff on 17/17/13 at 3:24 pm

    I grieve to bring this up, but the US Army murderer from Afghanistan did use an issue rifle and issue mags and ammunition to kill 16 civilians. So yes, some people who have been taught responsible shooting will do dreadful things.

  7. Jon Brooks on 17/17/13 at 4:44 pm

    Have you seen the youtube video of the fastest man alive with his 1873 single action colt? Draws and shoots two ballons tethered on 4 ft poles in 0.02 seconds at 8 feet if memory serves. Thats about 1 and 1/4 cycles of 60 Hz.

    Of course loading a single action takes awhile.

    I am a proud owner of one in .45 longcolt but I’ll be danged if I could ever match that even with cowboy loads let alone the full house factory loads I store it with. Even with the potential safety danger I store it with 6 (I know, I know). If someone breaks into my house they’ll meet me with my .45 ACP MKIV Gov’t in my right hand and the ’73 in my left. If 20th century tech doesn’t stop em, 19th century tech should do the job.

    It got depressing talking about the posting subject so sorry about the shift.

  8. MT Geoff on 17/17/13 at 6:54 pm

    Howdy Jon
    Assuming your SA revolver is actually a modern version modeled after a Peacemaker or the like, it’s as safe to carry a round under the hammer as it is with any other pistol. The original models were vulnerable to slipping at half-cock before bringing a new chamber under the hammer, so sometimes a shooter would manage to fire a bit early — down one’s own leg, for example.
    The modern descendants have an interlock so that the hammer can only fire the cartridge if the trigger is back. That said, I was clumsy enough on a re-load one time that I put a round through the prop table and had to put my guns away for the day. Very embarrassing.
    A good shooter can quickly and accurately fire all the loads in a cowboy gun very fast, but as you note the reload is a kisser. That’s the reason some Western hombres carried two pistols — it was almost unknown to actually shoot one with each hand. I’ve done that; it’s harder than it looks and it’s a specialty in the Cowboy Action Shooting world.

  9. Jon Brooks on 17/17/13 at 7:39 pm

    I said I’d meet them with the SA in my left, doesn’t mean I can hit anything with my left. LOL

    Thanks for the info on the modern replicas. I have assumed that the replica is 100% copy of all the old parts but with modern steel , better hardnening where needed etc.

    Mine is a ’73 Peacemaker replica with 5 1/2″ barrel. I so wanted the 7 1/2″ calvary model but they would have had to order, extra cost, time etc. so I let eagerness overcome reason there with what they had in the case. I’m still happy with her though.

    I refuse to file or bend the front sight blade for sight in, like our great granddaddies did, so I just learned how she shot for a point of aim point of impact sight hold for 25 feet, and I pray I’ll remember its up and to the left a tad if I ever REALLY need it for its real purpose, and have the time to remember it. For 15 ft and under she is a quick point and shoot magic wand. And with .45 longcolt I’ve got 2/3 the energy of an average .44 Mag. load.

    So even if obambi comes for the semi autos too I’ve still got a gun for the ages. I hope. Unless they define semi as one sixth turn of a cylinder also. I wouldn’t put it past our king. Then again I used to shoot black powder alot also, so …… maybe black powder 1856 .44 remingtons will be making a comeback in the age of obama. LOLOL

  10. MT Geoff on 18/18/13 at 10:28 am

    I’ve seen people saying that a semi-automatic pistol is just like a revolver: each pull of the trigger fires one round.
    To anyone familiar with pistols, of course, this is claptrap. A semi-automatic pistol uses the firing action to chamber the next round (gas or recoil). A revolver uses the cocking action to rotate the cylinder and bring up the next round. Webley had a revolver with a cylinder designed to rotate from recoil and it would behave a lot like a semi-automatic.
    With a single-action revolver, the thumb action on the hammer rotates the cylinder. With a DA revolver, the trigger action may rotate the cylinder or you can cock it manually. In either case, rotating the cylinder ties to the hammer. It’s usually a greater physical effort to use the trigger, making for a heavier trigger pull, which is a big reason for the switch to semi-automatic weapons.