Forgive me, shooters, for the slack terminology. It sets up a scenario drawn from Aurora’s Batman mass-murderer, to show why and how good people using firearms to save lives like to carry 15, 16, 17-round magazines—and a spare.
I am going to re-construct James Holmes’s mass murder rampage at the movie theater in Aurora, and change only a couple of facts to illustrate why the law-abiding armed citizen wants to prepare with more than a scant handful of ammunition. You are seated in the theater, popcorn in hand….
You are seated on the right side of the theater, in a seat immediately by the right side aisle as you face the screen. One row is in front of you. There is an aisle crossing the theater left to right in front of that, and then there are several rows of seats in that section very close to the screen. The entry aisle from the lobby opens into the theater immediately to your right. So, the floor between you and the right-side exit is open. The theater fills.
You are munching popcorn, already into the movie. The exit door only about 30 feet to your front opens, and James Holmes enters. We know the rest. Let it sink in that Holmes shot 70 people. 70. Understand that Holmes wore bullet-resistant protection on his head, throat, legs, and groin. As it turned out, the vest he wore was like a daypack—a load-bearing vest, not armored.
Freeze the action right here. If you—reader angry with the NRA over why we insist on the right to keep and bear arms—are sitting there with no weapon, you are a mere target. Even armed, you are badly disadvantaged.
But, you are not alarmed. Others wear Batman-related costumes. Then, Holmes fires his first 12-gauge shot up into the theater behind you. He sprays those people behind you, then switches to his rifle and looks straight at you.
In your last second, you wish you had a gun.
Change the scenario. You are sitting there peaceably armed with an ugly, black, semi-automatic pistol under your T-shirt. The magazine holds 15 rounds, and you have one round in the chamber ready to go. The caliber is substantial—9mm +P. The bullets represent the pinnacle of ammunition technology so far: the bullets are specifically designed for effective personal protection. You are munching popcorn when Holmes enters. You wonder why anyone is coming into the theater through that exit door, but others are in costume for the special showing, so you are alert but not alarmed—until you see Holmes raise a tactical 12-gauge shotgun and fire his first shot.
Holmes advances into the theater, toward you. With a row to your front, and people to your left, you cannot run.
You rise, crouch, draw, and begin firing at Holmes’s chest, a bit higher than center-of-mass, where his heart is. You fire four rounds, seeing him jolt, stagger backward, but recover. He is wearing body armor covering his vital organs. As he transitions from shotgun to rifle (this is what Holmes actually did), he fumbles a bit, giving you the opportunity to align your sights with his head. It is dark, he wears a mask, and a helmet. He is raising his rifle, looking straight at you. You miss his head with your first shot, and a couple of rounds are deflected by his helmet. You transition to his pelvis area, trying to get shots into the space between armor plates. He begins firing at you. You fire at him—again, and again, and again, in what is sometimes called a “non-standard response.” You know you are to keep shooting until the “threat is down” and this guy is just not going down.
By now, you know your magazine must be near empty. You see Holmes crumple, his body-supporting pelvis and hip area shattered. He is down.
Then, his crazy buddy steps in. He fires. You fire. You are accurate. You fire as trained: your two bullets slam into his chest armor. Your slide locks back, the pistol emptied. You have fired your 16 rounds, and you are not carrying a spare magazine. He jolts, staggers, recovers, and raises his weapon, looking straight at you. You charge….
You, unarmed reader, angry with the NRA because of our insistence on the right to keep and bear arms: do you still scoff? Then, what would it take for you to awaken to realities? You, the more open-minded but still anti-gun reader, you now at least know why shooters buy magazines holding 15, 16, and 17 rounds of ammunition—and why some carry a spare. You can now at least consider a very different outcome from the 70 shot at “Batman.” If your armed citizen has enough ammo to defeat the armor, and the evil companion.
As I write this, I am listening to radio reports of a 4:00 a.m. shooting at a grocery store in New Jersey. The armored murderer was an angry employee. He shot two co-workers, then killed himself.
Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. Will you be ready for that highly improbable, but fatal conjunction of evil, insanity, and chance? Who will die if you are not? How many attackers will there be? How much ammo will you need?
Because, when you need lots of ammo, you really, really, really, need lots of ammo and just a few rounds short leaves you….