So, there’s all this talk of trying to limit the number of bullets that a citizen’s gun can hold; I thought it would be interesting to put the
shoe on the other foot and ask why cops need guns with high-capacity magazines. It seems like a foolish question. They need them, of course, for
shoot-outs with bad guys. Right?
Let’s look at the facts:
American police shoot about 1,100 people a year
killing about half of them.
Most of the time, when police use their weapons, it requires just five bullets or less to bring the situation to a close. Those twenty-minute
shootouts you see in movies, the ones that require thousands of rounds of ammunition? They’re largely fictional. That’s why they’re in
Gun control advocates like to cite the North Hollywood shootings, in which two men wearing body armor and firing assault weapons (but killing no one)
outgunned the police. This is a rare exception.
Assault rifles are used in less than 2%
of all gun crimes, including mass shootings and
battles with police.
A “painstaking” study by the New York Times of NYPD shootings over an 11-year period revealed:
“The total number of shots fired in each situation edged up to 4.7 in 2006. However, the figure is skewed by the 50 shots fired in the Bell case.
Excluding that case, the average would be 3.6 shots.”
According to a 3-year study of Portland police shootings:
“There appears to be a relationship between the amount of ammunition a weapon holds and a tendency to shoot more. Twelve officers firing six-shot
revolvers fired an average of 2.6 times each. Nineteen officers using semiautomatic pistols with capacities ranging from eight to 18 rounds shot an
average of 4.6 times apiece”
In other words, the presence of more bullets often causes police to use more bullets. If police were restricted to six bullets, they might cut the
number of bullets fired in half. (The study reported by the New York Times showed that NYPD exercised more control with larger magazines, no doubt in
response to several recent high-profile shootings of unarmed citizens.)
Another interesting point from the Portland study: when the number of cops in a shooting situation increases, so do the amount of bullets fired by
each cop, up to 45% more bullets.
The Portland study also showed that police missed their target 40% of the time. New York cops, on the other hand, missed their targets 66% of the
So, it sounds as though cops need to become better shots, instead of being allowed to carry weapons with high numbers of rounds and getting trigger
happy when they’re in a group.