Making Do With Fewer Rounds

When Meaningless Laws Reduce Round Count, Strategy Needs To Be Revised.

The January 2013 sandbag job led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had a profound impact on the law-abiding gun owners of the Empire State, and sent a chill through their brothers and sisters nationwide. Bypassing the 72-hour debate requirement for new laws under the New York constitution, it was so poorly crafted that none of the lawmakers who drafted it or voted for it had even thought to allow for police, National Guard, or armed security in the state. Within a week, some 60 amendments were reportedly awaiting consideration at the State House, including one that would decriminalize the cops.

New York’s long-standing state-level “assault weapons ban” had already limited New Yorkers to 10-round magazines. Now, meaningless feel-good legislation limited them to seven cartridges per magazine, no more than eight rounds in the gun total, until further notice.

Plan A, of course, was a challenge to the law, a piece of legislation that was the very definition of that oft-used legal phrase, “arbitrary and capricious.” That’s a long-haul solution, though. What do you do when you’re the one in that situation, with a family to protect at home, and hopefully a license to carry concealed in public?

No one in the industry thinks it’s likely that gunmakers will tool up to produce 7-round magazines for our most popular home-defense pistols today, double-stack autos designed to hold a minimum of 10 rounds in .45, 15 in .40, and 17 to 19 in 9mm. The 10-round mags had been a necessity for their production lines in 1994 when the national “assault weapons ban” with that limit had become the law of the entire land. Most retained that manufacturing capability for mags going to states like New York, California and Hawaii that maintained their own 10-round limits. But 7-round magazines for one state with a low density of gun owners in general and concealed carriers in particular? Not bloody likely.

The history of the 1994-2004 magazine ban showed us one alternative: If you have to protect yourself with fewer rounds, switch to something with more powerful rounds to compensate. It was during that decade that we saw the rise of what the antigunners disdainfully called “pocket rockets,” small handguns with low capacity but more potent calibers. It was that decade which saw the introduction of the Baby Glocks in 9mm, .40, .357 SIG, and .45 ACP; the single-stack Kahr pistols the size of old .380s, but chambered for 9mm and up; and the rise of the 5-shot .357 Magnum revolvers built on little .32-size frames.


Glock 17 magazines: standard capacity 17-round on left, reduced capacity 10-round on right.


“Spray and pray” or “hose the foes” was never a sound strategy, even with higher capacity handguns, and it’s all the more hopeless with a severely limited ammunition reservoir. A law born as a knee-jerk reaction to the murder of the helpless never took into account the fact that when the time comes to stop those violent murderers, they are likely to be in such a state of rage that one or two bullets are unlikely to stop them unless the shots are perfectly placed. That reality does indeed make powerful cartridges all the more important.

It also means that the old gunfighter’s aphorism “speed’s fine, but accuracy’s final” must come again to the forefront. Have a gun whose sights you can aim with. Invoke another bit of wisdom invoked by gunfighters from Wyatt Earp to Texas Ranger John Hughes to Bill Jordan: “Take your time, quick.” Accuracy of fire vs. volume of fire is no longer a debate when volume of fire has been taken away from you as an option.

Spare ammo will be all the more important. I see nothing in the New York law that limits the number of 7-round magazines you can have available. From WWI through Korea, American troops with 1911 .45 autos and a couple of spare 7-round mags were considered the best-armed handgunners on the battlefield. Still, there was a reason any serviceman issued a .45 was issued two spare mags to be carried with it.

Speaking of which: Today’s single-stack .45s generally have 8-round magazines. Downloading by one is technically legal, but if I was carrying a .45 in NY under the new law, it would be a 1911 loaded with Colt, Metalform, or Wilson 7-rounders, and if I carried my P345 Ruger, it would be loaded only with the old 7-round P90 magazines. Reason: I don’t even want it left open to suggestion that I might have been in violation of any law, should push come to shove, and find myself in the clutches of a prosecutor who’s on Governor Cuomo’s friends list on Facebook and is looking for a test case.

Backup gun? I think it’s a great idea no matter how many rounds you’re allowed in your primary handgun, and all the more important if you’re limited to a low-capacity gun. Unfortunately, my understanding of the NY State permit system is that the issuing authorities limit you to specified guns. If you are one of the fortunate ones to be licensed in New York City, your carry permit will have one gun on it to start; you may, later, try to go through hoops and get a second, and that’s likely to be it. But, if you’re carrying both when you need to defend yourself, both guns (having been present at the shooting) will likely be taken into evidence and remain there for some time. It will take a while to get another gun listed for your permit, and if the bad guy’s gang-banger buddies are looking for revenge, it’s a lousy time to be without something you can carry to protect yourself.

Hang in there, law-abiding New Yorkers. This thing is gonna be challenged in the courts… but it’s gonna take a while. Stay strong, stay legal, and adapt wisely… and remember, the free states accept refugees.
By Massad Ayoob

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