Question: “Did Adam Lanza switching magazines save lives because kids could escape while he was making the switch?”

29 Mar , 2015  

We received this question again today, so we thought that we would provide our readers with a short answer to it.

“Did Adam Lanza switching magazines save lives because kids could escape while he was making the switch?”

There are two main types of responses.
If you look at times where guns have jammed in mass shootings (e.g., Aurora and Tucson), it has been because of the large capacity magazines.  Fatigue in the spring can prevent the last few bullets from feeding properly into the gun.  Large magazines require extremely strong springs to push the last few bullets into the chamber, and even a little fatigue in the metal of the spring can prevent the last few bullets from loading properly.  The fatigue arises in part because people sometimes leave bullets stored in the magazines.
Bans on large capacity magazines will primarily limit law-abiding citizens.  A magazine, which is basically a metal box with a spring, is trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining. The 1994 legislation banned magazines holding more than 10 bullets yet had no effect on crime rates.
Law-abiding citizens will obey this ban.  Permit holders who carry in public usually just carry the magazine that is in their gun.  Limiting the size of their magazine thus limits how many bullets they will have with them.  But someone who is planning on engaging in a mass shooting and planning this many months or years in advance can obtain a large magazine if that is really what they want.  Even if they somehow can’t get a large magazine, they will be able to take a lot of smaller magazines with them because they know that they will be using them, thus putting them at an advantage over their law-abiding victims.


7 Responses

  1. Billc says:

    I have an article from the local paper….it is not true that magazine changing allowed people to escape….the news article quotes law enforcement…and they don’t say yes it saved lives…they say the “presume” it saved,lives and “may” have saved lives…..in fact he changed magazines several times doing a combat reload…reloading before the magazine was empty…..and still killed over 25 people….

    I will send the article and you will see that the only witnesses…the kindergarten children, are not even being interviewed because they wish to spare them the trauma of reliving the attack….so no one in the building can say that changing magazines saved one life……the anti gun groups have just claimed this in order to get standard capacity magazines banned…..

    • Billc says:

      And notice the way they phrase this information….”it is possible”….and “it is also possible”…”Could have”….

      so in truth….they have no idea if magazine changes saved lives…they do know, however that this incident gives them the best chance at getting magazines banned………

      From the article…….

      “It is possible that Lanza, who reloaded the rifle frequently, mishandled or dropped a magazine and unfired bullets fell to the floor, they said.”

      But it also is possible, they said, that the mechanism that fed bullets into the rifle jammed, causing Lanza to remove the magazine and clear the weapon. Unfired bullets could have fallen to the classroom floor during that process as well, law enforcement officials said.

  2. Billc says:

    Here is the article…notice the wording used in quoting the police and other officials…not one actually states that they know magazine changes saved lives…..


  3. mirgc says:

    That is what I have read as well: His weapon jammed and during the process of un-jamming the firearm (and changing magazines to do it) the kids ran by to safety.

    On another note: While some people fancy they will count bullets till the shooter gets to ten, or will hear a shooter reloading after the loud report of the firearm, or they even see the shooter reloading (they do it all the time on TV and in the movies….), what’s to say a shooter simply pauses? How would one know if the gun jammed, was empty, or they still had 5 more bullets?

  4. fsilber says:

    If you’re in a gunfight, having to change magazines can give someone a chance to take careful aim at you. If you’re shooting unarmed people, there’s not much they can do in that second or two. A really long magazine might be clumsier and take more time to reload and might give bystanders something they can grab with leverage to prevent you from reloading.

  5. MarkPA says:

    I took my nephew to the range for the first time; an 8 year-old kid, first time with a real gun. We used a single-shot .22. It occurred to me that he could load, aim and fire within about 20 seconds. At that rate, in the 12 minutes a shooter is likely to have between a 911 call and police arrival, a shorter with a single-shot gun could fire 36 rounds.
    So, even if we carry the argument on magazine size to its limit – single-shot – we are left with an unacceptable level of carnage. Magazine size – even if it could be enforced – is no answer.
    Moreover, even if we assume some magazine capacity limitation could be enforced, we can’t preclude the possibility that a crazy person wouldn’t bring 2 or 3 guns to the scene. He could easily reload while holding a second or third gun at-the-ready with a full magazine.
    What do we tell the mother defending her children? Can we, with a straight face, assure her that multiple thugs invading her home will respect the magazine limit and bring just a single gun?

  6. […] I’ve long been puzzled by the way progressives/liberals respond to questions and criticisms about their positions. For example, a progressive friend posted an article on Facebook that was pushing various–seemingly arbitary–restrictions on gun ownership. The article’s author urged–among other things–outlawing semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines. In response, I posted a comment with what I thought were some pretty fundamental questions: are revolvers and other manually loaded guns somehow less dangerous than semiautomatic weapons? (For those who don’t know, “semiautomatic” just means that a bullet loads into the chamber with every squeeze of the trigger; a fully automatic weapon is something entirely different. Fully automatic weapons are extremely difficult for civilians to obtain legally.) Also, I asked, was there some reason to think that outlawing magazines with more than, say, 8 bullets would somehow reduce crime or make mass shootings less severe? Or would a mass shooter simply disregard the ban (or bring a bunch of smaller magazines and switch them, as Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook)? […]

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