Matthew Hancock

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The Risk Posed By High-Capacity Magazines
A video making the rounds today is of a man opening fire on a police cruiser in the small town of Middlefield, Ohio on March 10th. The assailant was using an assault rifle (FEG 7.62x39, similar to an AK-47, which you can buy online here for $456 including a 20-round magazine) and a high-capacity magazine. If you don't feel like watching the video: The police are overpowered and ultimately get off the most, and fatal, shots after the assailant had fired all, or most, of his bullets and was injured on the ground with his gun still trained on the officers.

Additional video leading up to the altercation is available here. The man was pulled over for running a stop sign (which you can see is on the opposite side of "Do Not Enter" sign on the top left of the video before the cruiser does a u-turn). Fortunately after pulling the vehicle over, Officer Erin Thomas, in the passenger seat, can be heard saying "He's hiding something…Oh my god." As she exits the car and walks around behind it, presumably for protection, the driver exits his car and immediately starts firing. She was able to hide behind the driver's side door where she and Officer Brandon Savage were able to return fire. With the high-capacity magazine effectively suppressing fire, the shooter can be seen almost nonchalantly circling around the police car in hopes to fire around the door to kill the officers before heading back towards his car.

Officer Savage was injured by shrapnel and has since returned to duty. Officer Thomas took a bullet to her left hand leaving it "severely mangled" and causing the loss of her index finger. She was evacuated by helicopter for surgery and may require a second operation.

In total, the shooter fired off 33 rounds. Officer Savage fired 29 rounds, likely having to reload his 9mm handgun. Officer Thomas fired 17 rounds, presumably emptying the magazine and unable to reload due to her hand injury - and which also was probably not necessary with the shooter being down and unable to fire. Of the officers' 46 shots, the shooter was hit 19 times with shots to the head and chest being the likely cause of death.

It's worth noting that especially with smaller ammunition, such as 9mm bullets, those that are shot don't immediately die. Bullet wounds away from critical organs cause blood loss which lowers blood pressure until those shot pass out and perhaps die. Larger caliber bullets, such as from assault weapons, exacerbate this and, as a result, are more fatal with less accuracy and/or rounds fired. This is why the shooter, whose girth also helped, was able to continue firing despite visible hits to the abdomen.

damaged police cruiser
This image, via forums, reportedly shows the cruiser after the event. Note the tight grouping of bullets head high on the driver's side of the windshield.

In the shooter's car there were other items "including multiple containers of gun powder, eight 40-round magazines, a black ski mask, black leather gloves and a .22 caliber rifle with a scope."

Police chief Arnold Stanko said, "What he was going to do with this? We don't have any idea. My officers were outgunned. We only had 9 millimeters and he had an AK-47."

In other words, the shooter could have fired 360 bullets only reloading 8 times if he intended to use the weapon elsewhere instead of against armed police officers. There is no reason why a civilian should have access to 40 round magazines. The risk created by them having the potential to inflict mass casualties clearly outweighs one person's right to having that potential - the rights of the collective are superior to one's personal freedom.

Those opposing legislation to ban high-capacity magazines (aka 54 United States Senators) are not only condoning these types of altercations where only luck and a little foresight prevents the murder of overpowered police officers, but also massacres of children in classrooms and theaters full of moviegoers. Doing nothing is irresponsible and reprehensible. Those 54 Senators who voted against the Lautenberg amendment have the blood of all future massacres on their hands. I can only hope they're aware of this - and if not, that an informed electorate will fire them from their jobs on the basis of gross incompetence.

One final thought: while this is terrifying from the perspective of a dashboard camera behind an apparently bulletproof police cruiser windshield - this is the last thing 20 young children saw in Newtown. Can you imagine the terror they felt as they looked on at a shooter effortlessly firing round after round into their classroom? With their teachers throwing themselves in front of bullets but to no avail as the gunman didn't have to reload? If you put yourself in their shoes and still feel nothing needs to be done, then you are truly soulless and I pity you for your lack of compassion for these children, their families, and for humanity in general. More needs to be done, and it will be done.