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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gun Control Proponent Adam Winkler Says Banning Standard Capacity Magazines is a Bad Idea

It has been said that once a gun control proposal is passed in California it is only a few short years before it makes it's way to the east coast.  That is one reason we should all be watching very closely the proposal of California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to require background checks for ammunition and to ban standard capacity magazines that have previously been grandfathered under previous laws.  It is quite telling how useless this proposal is in preventing crime when gun control proponent Adam Winkler takes to the LA Times to write how the magazine ban is a bad idea (he is fine with the background checks for ammunition however).  Winkler says the proposal focuses on mass shootings, which are rare and would do nothing to prevent the "daily death toll from guns."  He also said passing such a law would create less respect for laws in general.
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.

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.
Winkler, who is a professor at the UCLA School of Law, is a realistic gun control advocate.
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.

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