Paul W. Barada
As the debate over gun control rages on, it’s more than a little distressing to see how little some of our elected representatives know about firearms. This lack of understanding only reinforces a point I made several weeks ago about people on the other side of the gun control issue who are flocking to buy weapons they aren’t trained to use correctly or safely.
Here’s the latest example of lack of understanding on the part of people who ought to be better informed. Democratic representative Diana DeGette from Colorado, who is an ardent supporter of banning high capacity magazines, apparently doesn’t know the difference between the ammunition that goes into a magazine and the magazine itself. At a recently publicized town hall meeting, Rep. DeGette was asked what would happen to the high capacity magazines that are already out there, if legislation is passed that will make them illegal. Rep. DeGette replied that they would be discarded after they’re used. “I will tell you these are ammunition, bullets, so the people who have those now they are going to shoot them, and so if you ban, if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available,” she said. Obviously, Rep. DeGette has no idea that there’s a rather huge difference between cartridges and magazines, and yet she is one of the most vocal advocates for strict gun control and sits in the US House of Representatives where any gun control legislation will be passed.
Actually, it’s very disturbing that an elected representative could have so little knowledge about firearms and be such a strong opponent of them. For the sake of the uninitiated, most semi-automatic weapons are designed to hold a magazine which contains individual bullets or a clip used to insert multiple bullets into a semi-automatic weapon. Frequently, people will use the words “magazine” and “clip” interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. They don’t. A magazine, regardless of how many bullets it holds, is a stamped metal container with a spring in the bottom that pushes up the bullets as each one is inserted into the barrel. Once the magazine is loaded, the whole thing is inserted into the receiver of a rifle or into the grip of a semi-automatic pistol. Once the last bullet is fired, the magazine is removed and can be reloaded with more bullets.
Unlike a magazine, a clip is nothing more than a metal device that holds several bullets together to make them easier to insert into the receiver. This is ordinarily done by pressing down the bullets in the clip to force them into the receiver. Once the bullets are in place, the clip ordinarily falls off, but it can be used again. Ordinarily, a clip of bullets is inserted into the receiver from the top and a magazine of bullets is inserted into the bottom of the receiver. In the iconic M1 Gerand rifle, which was the standard issue weapon for our armed forces from 1936 to 1957, a standard 8-shot clip was inserted into the action from the top, clip and all, before the bolt was closed. When the eighth shot was fired, the clip was ejected with a distinctive “ping” that every GI from World War II would recognize. Over 6.2 million M1 Gerands were produced between 1936 and 1957. Oh, by the way, the M1 was considered a semi-automatic weapon.
Pistols, on the other hand, like the equally iconic M1911 pistol, commonly known as a “45” because it fires a .45 caliber bullet, has been in service since 1911 and is still in use today, holds a magazine of seven bullets inserted in the grip. After firing the last bullet, the magazine is released by simply pressing the magazine release button to the rear of the trigger on the left side of the pistol. Most GIs who carried a “45” also carried as many magazines as possible so they could quickly reload, pressing the magazine release button to let the empty magazine drop out and quickly inserting a new one.
While we’re at it, it should be noted that a revolver is also a semi-automatic weapon that usually holds six bullets and fires each time the trigger is pulled. The major difference is in how long it takes to reload a revolver compared to other types of semi-automatic weapons. The cylinder has to be opened and six new bullets inserted into each chamber one at a time which, obviously, takes much longer than reloading with a magazine or a clip of bullets.
Getting back to Rep. DeGette, for her to be in a position to vote on gun control legislation when she doesn’t even know that there’s a difference between a bullet and a magazine that holds bullets, makes it a little difficult to understand how she can be so opposed to firearms, on the one hand, and know so little about them, on the other.
You’ll notice that in all three examples I’ve cited, neither the M1 Gerand rifle, the M1911 .45 pistol, nor the revolver hold more than eight bullets. Our armed forces apparently have never felt the need, until recently, for high capacity personal weapons. But that’s not really the point. Even if legislation is passed limiting high capacity magazines, what difference will it really make? There are already millions of high capacity magazines privately owned in this country. Making high capacity magazines illegal isn’t going to make the ones already out there disappear.
That’s -30- for this week.