Even the slight benefit promised by a ban on large magazines — forcing mass shooters to delay momentarily — is outweighed by the unfortunate consequences of passing a law that normally law-abiding people won't obey. If past experience is any guide, the magazine ban is just such a law. In 2013 Sunnyvale banned high-capacity magazines and, after a grace period for gun owners, police reported that not a single person had turned in a magazine. Los Angeles and San Francisco enacted similar laws and few, if any, gun owners have disposed of their magazines.Winkler, who is a professor at the UCLA School of Law, is a realistic gun control advocate.
As more gun laws that gun owners believe are wrong or foolish have been adopted, noncompliance has become a significant problem. When California required registration of assault weapons in 1990, only about 7,000 of the estimated 300,000 assault weapons then in the state were registered. In New York, which required registration of assault weapons in 2013, the compliance rate is about 5%. Connecticut has also seen a remarkably low rate of compliance with its law mandating registration of large magazines.
Why is compliance with such laws so low? Some people have an ideological opposition to any gun control law. Yet when 95% of gun owners don't comply with a law, it's not just the die-hards objecting. Legal theorists argue that people are more likely to comply with laws they view as morally or socially just. To a person whose gun came standard with one of these magazines and who has owned it for years without incident, the idea that these devices are inherently dangerous does not resonate.
Like alcohol, drugs and file-sharing, guns — including the ones with large magazines — are here to stay. Gun policy is going to be more effective when we stop fighting against that simple fact.Don't hold your breath for other gun control advocates to get that fact.