A weak case for guns with high-capacity magazines

Saturday, February 12, 2011; 6:40 PM

"The case for a gun with 33 rounds," as made by Stephen Hunter [op-ed, Feb. 6], is weak indeed.

Mr. Hunter's homage to semiautomatic firearms with high-capacity magazines borders on the fiction for which he is well known. His claim that the Virginia Tech and Fort Hood shooters did not use "extended magazines" is based on semantics and is disingenuous. The magazines may have not actually "extended" beyond the body of the handgun, but their capacity (at 15, 20 and 30 rounds, respectively) exceeded the 10-round limit that was in place before the federal assault weapons ban was allowed to expire.

Mr. Hunter's argument that high-capacity magazines are rarely used in crime is also wrong. Starting with the horrific mass shooting at a California elementary school in 1989 that featured a semiautomatic AK-47 with a 75-round magazine, high-capacity magazines have been a staple of mass shooters and common muggers alike.

A ban on high-capacity magazines might not have stopped the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). But we know that for those injured by rounds 11 to 32, it could have made a big difference.

Josh Horwitz, Washington

The writer is the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

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