Concealed Carry & Home Defense

HOOBER: What To Do When Capacity Is Restricted


Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Sam Hoober

As some are aware, a number of states hang in the balance in passing various gun control regulations. It would seem that state gun laws tend to be very permissive – constitutional carry, heck yes you can have that SBR with a can so long as you have a tax stamp – and then you have the gun control havens like California, New York and so on.

Of the few in between, several are precariously on the brink.

The good state of Washington is trying to implement a gun control agenda. Though the state has a history of a balancing act with firearms laws (restrictive in some ways, very permissive in others) much of the state legislative and executive branches just aren’t terribly concerned with the rights of the citizens to carry and bear arms.

A Clinton-style assault weapons ban recently died in committee, but a magazine capacity restriction was passed by the Washington state senate.

It’s the same 10-round restriction from the Clinton era; currently-owned magazines would be grandfathered but no new magazines sold in WA or purchased by Washingtonians can hold more than 10 rounds.

Granted, it’s also worth noting that unless it basically blitzkriegs the House, it’s likely dead until the next session. The House bill has been languishing in committee and very possibly will not see the floor by the end of the legislative session on March 4, the deadline for all legislative activity that doesn’t pertain to initiatives or state budgets.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the Clinton bans didn’t really work!

But the thing is that rah-rah, the libs are wrong, etc., is low-hanging fruit. Anyone who’s familiar with looking at the actual evidence regarding gun crime is pretty familiar by now with the idea that restricting what guns or magazines can be owned has almost nothing to do with gun crime.

We can take it as granted that capacity restrictions are a dog and pony show, done to appease a portion of the population that just wants to take guns away from everyone but the police and the military, and some of them even want to disarm the police.

But this also begs a question.

Let’s say you were trapped behind the nanny-state curtain. What do you do then? Leaving aside the idea of surreptitiously importing standard capacity magazines (if WA passes a magazine ban it’s guaranteeing Idaho gun shops will always be able to sell PMAGs!) what is a person supposed to actually do?

It’s a good idea to think about what you might have to contend with should you have to deal with less than ideal circumstances. All of us have preferences or ideals about what should or shouldn’t be, but reality doesn’t always match up. At some point, we must be able to work within limitations no matter how unfair or just plain wrong they might be.

Well, as it turns out, law enforcement understood this same issue decades ago, which led to a number of different approaches.

One school of thought is an adjustment of training emphases and philosophies, and the name of the game is accuracy. If you have fewer rounds to work with, every one of them counts for a whole lot more. Some police academies were known to tell recruits was that you sure could have speedloaders but if you had to reload in a gunfight, you were probably going to die, so you need to solve the problem in six shots.

We have a number of examples.

Frank Hamer, the iconic Texas Ranger who led the manhunt to capture and kill Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, stuck with a Colt Single Action for his entire career despite double-action revolvers and 1911s being very available, and detested the Thompson SMG.

The reason – according to Darryl Bolke – is that Hamer prized accuracy above all else. If he had to shoot, he only wanted to shoot the suspect that posed him (or the public) a threat and only wanted to shoot them once.

The gun press was buzzing last year when it was announced that Beretta would be imported the Manurhin MR-73 revolver. The MR-73 was famously the service pistol of GIGN, or Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, the counter-terrorist unit of the French national police and certainly one of the most elite police units in the world.

One of the reasons GIGN adopted a .357 Magnum revolver despite plenty of semi-autos being available at the time of its formation in the 1970s was in fact a deliberate limitation on ammunition capacity.

You can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth in the Forgotten Weapons interview with Christian Prouteau, the founder of GIGN. They deliberately limited carrying capacity and forced GIGN operators to train up to painstaking accuracy standards. Their doctrine was that if you had to fire at a suspect more than twice, you screwed up.

Then you have the New York reload, though the practice was hardly unique to New York City.

Legendary and infamous Chicago PD officer Frank Pape was known to have longer pockets sewn into his coat and pants, so he could carry multiple revolvers. Pape was said to carry up to four revolvers on him at all times on duty, with a .44 in the glove box and a Tommy Gun in the trunk of the car.

And, of course, a number of actual NYPD officers would carry multiples, discarding the empty gun for a backup instead of trying to reload. Jim Cirillo, Bill Allard, and Pat Rogers were all known for not only carrying one or more backup guns but for actually using them in gunfights.

It turns out snubbies are still being made and sold, and there are plenty of micro and subcompact pistols on the market. As far as accuracy, that’s a software issue rather than a hardware issue. You just have to practice – and practice – and practice.

Just like people were able to defend themselves with pump-action shotguns and lever-action rifles before there were AR-15s, there are ways to deal with a legal capacity restriction.

Not, of course, that anyone should have to.

Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.