April 18, 2007

Despite Dishonest Media Hype, Va. Tech Shooter Used Standard Capacity Magazines In Shooting Spree

Thanks to Ace and Allah, I was led to a Washington Post article that explains that the shooter at Virginia Tech used standard capacity magazines during his rampage:

The Glock was used in two shootings, first in a dormitory and then in Norris Hall more than 2 1/2 hours later, officials said. A surveillance tape, which has now been watched by federal agents, shows Cho buying the Glock, sources said. Both guns are semiautomatic, which means that one round is fired for every finger pull.

Cho reloaded several times, using 15-round magazines for the Glock and 10-round magazines for the Walther, investigators said, adding that he had the cryptic words "Ismale Ax" tattooed on one arm. Although there are many theories, sources said, no one knows what it means.

As I stated yesterday, the magazines used in the Virginia Tech massacre were of standard capacity. Let me take this opportunity to do what the media has failed to do, and explain the difference between standard capacity magazines, magazines manufactured during the crime bill, and extended magazines as the terms relate to pistols.

Standard Capacity Magazines
Standard capacity magazines are those magazines designed by the manufacturer to fit within the magazine well in the butt (handgrip) of a pistol. The capacity varies from pistol to pistol, depending on how the firearm was designed. Most modern 9mm pistols are designed to house between 13-17 cartridges in each magazine without noticeably protruding from the bottom of the pistol.

This is a picture of a Glock 19 with a standard capacity magazine of 15 rounds, as designed by the manufacturer.


"Crime Bill" Magazines
A provision of the 1994 "Crime Bill" was the so-called "assault weapon" ban, and part of the ban placed a limit of ten cartridges on any magazine manufactured after the law took effect (it did not ban the ownership, sale, or purchase of then of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of standard capacity and extended capacity magazines manufactured prior to the law's implementation). Under this law, any magazine with more than ten rounds was declared a "high capacity" magazine, even though the overwhelming majority of these magazines were actually standard-sized magazines as designed by firearms designers. "High capacity" was and is purely a political designation, not a practical one.

Typically, the exact same magazine body were used in pre-ban, ban, and post-ban magazines, with internal block limiting the number of cartridges that could be loaded into magazines produced during the ban period (It was also relatively simple to remove the block from many magazines and return them to their standard capacity with a simple replacement of parts if one wanted to, but with so many pre-ban magazines for sale, few saw the need).

This is a picture of a Glock 19 with a AW-ban capacity magazine of 10 rounds.


Actually, it's the exact same picture, but as the ban and standard magazines still used the same magazine body, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference in the pistol's profile anyway.

Extended Magazines
As they relate to pistols, extended magazines are those magazines that extend perceptibly beyond the butt (handgrip) of the pistol. Extended magazines do not always mean high capacity magazines. Ten-round magazines for 1911-style .45ACP pistols were quite legal to manufacture between 1994-2004, but they still extended quite a bit beyond the pistol's natural butt.

This is a picture of a Glock 18 (the Glock 19's larger, machine pistol cousin) with an extended 33-round magazine that would fit the Glock 19.


Brian Ross of the "Blotter", ABC News, and Keith Olbercavemann were factually wrong is when they stated or implied that the 1994 law in any way restricted the sale, purchase, or ownership of any of the above magazines.

The law simply did not do what they claimed, and tens of thousands--perhaps hundreds thousands of such magazines--were bought and sold via retail purchase in stores, catalogs, and online during the 1994-2004 period. All the 1994 law did was ban the manufacture of magazines greater than ten rounds during that time period, which ultimately was a trivial matter. While the cost of some standard and extended magazines did rise considerably during the ban, they were never in short supply because so many magazines were already on the market.

Others and I have also noted that the size of the magazine also has very little to do with the carnage at Virginia Tech on Monday. It takes most shooters between 1-3 seconds to change an empty magazine for a full magazine, and there was no indication that Cho was rushed, especially as he had a second gun, presumably with a full magazine already loaded, at hand.

There are some forces in the media that are using this tragedy in Blacksburg to try to push a political agenda, and they are will to twist the truth or even lie to you in order to push it.

It's a sad, sick fact, but that is the media we have.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 18, 2007 03:52 PM

I gave up keeping records of all the inaccuracies that the MSM reports regarding firearms. Somehow, my guns don't make noise, alter magazine capacity, or kill anyone when I go to sleep.

Posted by: Tom TB at April 18, 2007 05:14 PM

Well, something went wrong. Whatever the magazine capacity was, this guy wound up killing a lot of people with a firearm.

The thing that surprises me about the news coverage is the idea that this can be blamed on the fact that this campus was a "no firearm" zone. I didn't know that there was a "fully armed" option when it came to college campuses.

Let's all cast our minds back to college, shall we? I'm willing to bet that every one of us was, to some degree or another, a horse's ass back then. Do we want fully-armed horse's asses on our college campuses? It seems like a bad idea to me.

The idea that more weapons on campus would solve this problem is counterintuitive. This guy was on campus, and he had a weapon, and he killed 33 people.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 18, 2007 05:30 PM

"I didn't know that there was a "fully armed" option when it came to college campuses."

Here in Utah it is legal, if it is not a private school. Nobody has been shot at the University of Utah, yet it is legal for people with a concealed carry permit to have one there.

Posted by: BobG at April 18, 2007 05:59 PM

As always, nice job keeping the fact straight.

I like the idea of an armed populace, but I agree with Doc on this one. Were people at my university cruising around with guns in their bags? I certainly hope not. When I was working in Afghanistan, we weren't allowed to be anywhere near guns when we were drinking booze. I thought this was a really good idea.

The problem I have with relaxed gun laws is that it assumes everyone is responsible enough [or in a responsible state of mind] to carry one, which is just as naive as assuming a criminal won't violate a gun-free zone.

Posted by: paully at April 18, 2007 06:03 PM

The idea that more weapons on campus would solve this problem is counterintuitive

So were the notions that the earth is round and revolves around the sun.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at April 18, 2007 07:20 PM

I see your point, Avenger, but don't see it as the clinching argument that someone else might.

Of all the guys who we know had firearms on the VT campus the other day, 100% wound up using those firearms to go on a killing spree.

Yes, the data set is small, but still...

College kids have their heads up their asses. They get angry for no reason. They get too drunk. They make bad decisions that they regret for years to come. I'm speaking from experience here.

The fact that they're not supposed to carry firearms around with them undoubedly keeps a lot of them from doing so, and if you're not carrying a weapon, you can't use it to kill anyone. Giving wet-behind-the-ears asshats (again: speaking from experience) permission to carry a gun would, it would seem, lead only to more deaths.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 18, 2007 08:30 PM

OK, Doc. I'll take your bait.

What about staff and graduate students? And. . .

How does attendance at an institution of higher learning abrogate the 2nd Amendment?

Posted by: MCPO Airdale at April 18, 2007 09:17 PM

I'd rather that nobody on campus be carrying weapons except sworn peace officers. I know that this definitely goes against the grain of 99.99999% of CY readers, but I'm unrepentant on this point.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 18, 2007 10:16 PM

But Doc,

Passing more laws against guns is counterintuitive also. Picture it this way - A local town here passed an ordinance banning guns in public buildings. This law was passed in response to one of the shootings at a business place in the last few years - can't remember which one. Do you really think that someone who has decided to go into one of those buildings - someone who has decided to commit murder - is going to worry about a town ordinance against taking the gun into the building?

No. The are only two options here. One is to get on with life and accept that there are risks involved. The other is to never, ever leave your home. Of course there will be modifications necessary. The first is to make sure that your home is completely secure - bomb/bullet/radiation/biologic/chemical proof - including doors and windows. Have a Phalanx System and a Patriot battery on the roof in case someone decides to launch a missile at you. Order all your supplies by internet and monitor all deliveries. Never, ever open your door to anybody at any time. All supplies must be scanned with detection equipment to make sure they are safe. Simple, right?

I'd prefer to accept that there are risks.

Posted by: Specter at April 18, 2007 10:27 PM

Doc, if you want to be a victim that's your choice. Guess what? you don't get to make that choice for me. Currently, I don't carry in public. Once I've gone through the training required for a CHL here in TX, and I'm working on that right now, I will be.

Posted by: SDN at April 19, 2007 12:13 AM

I'm sure ABC will fess up to lying about that about the same time as AP marches Jamail in front of a camera. I excerpted and linked at Virginia Tech: The Day After The Day After The Day After.

Posted by: Bill Faith at April 19, 2007 03:34 AM

The fact that they're not supposed to carry firearms around with them undoubedly keeps a lot of them from doing so

Why is it that somehow gun control laws are viewed as a magic (yet always unproven, and oft failed) panacea by liberals, but drug control laws aren't?

Posted by: Purple Avenger at April 19, 2007 05:40 AM

To some extent, I see Doc Washboard's point about the overall level of maturity and sound judgement existing in the mindset of a majority of 17 to 23 year old college students. However, I would suggest that if RA's (that's Resident Advisors) in dorms, graduate students, and instructors above the age of 21 who get the neccessary training and background checks required to obtain a concealed carry permit were allowed carry on campus, the mere possibility of meeting armed resistance may discourage someone like Cho from carrying out mass carnage. The certainty that no one could respond in force enabled the body count to reach 32.

Posted by: SicSemperTyrannus at April 19, 2007 07:46 AM

Good info. I learned something. I bought a Ruger P89 9mm semi-automatic back in 1998. It came with 10 round capacity magazines. It didn't have a block, but the plastic bottom of the mag was larger, making less room for rounds. There was no way to modify it to make room for 15 rounds. It never really bothered me, but its nice to know that I could get the 15 round mags, if I wanted, for now.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at April 19, 2007 08:06 AM

Specter, I can't speak for all liberals, but I can try to relate what I posted to what you replied.

It's true that people are going to do drugs, just as people carry weapons, whether or not it's against the law. My point--and I tried to be careful to phrase it this way--was that the deterrent of possible punishment would keep some folks from carrying, just as I know for a solid fact that drug laws keep some folks from using. Some's better than none.

I definitely see what you're saying, but my feeling is that we need to get what we can get, even if it's not everything we want.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 19, 2007 08:23 AM

Oops, sorry; that last post was supposed to go to Purple Avenger.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 19, 2007 08:26 AM

"Of all the guys who we know had firearms on the VT campus the other day, 100% wound up using those firearms to go on a killing spree."

Small point, but I thought the campus police were armed (but then, that information came from the MSM so, there you go).

Chicago's Mayer Daley invoked the tragedy to call, yet again, for bans on "assault weapons" and 50 caliber firearms. Daley, the weapons used in that tragedy were neither automatic nor 50 caliber. But thanks for showing us you don't really care about doing anything useful as long as you get to ban more firearms.

Posted by: DoorHold at April 19, 2007 12:19 PM

Funny how everyone just assumes college students aren't old enough to carry weapons yet if they are over 18 they are legally allowed to own them. Somehow these immature people can vote, drive a car (the deadliest weapon in the world), and enter into binding contracts. These same 18 year olds can don a uniform and fight for our country with guns but somehow when they are out of uniform they can't be trusted. What is really the issue here?

For all of you who say that you don't trust me to make the right choice when I carry a gun, welcome to a free society. Yup, that is right, a free society is a dangerous society. Bad things can happen when you give people choice and that is why we have laws to punish them. You are trying to pre-judge people to make yourself "feel" safe. In the end, it is only a rosy feeling you get not real saftey.

You want me to be disarmed because you don't trust me. Maybe you trust me but not "that other guy", whatever that means. HE looks like a punk rocker, maybe his hair is too long, perhaps he drives too fast, whatever the excuse is it is BS. Perhaps the real issue is that you don't trust yourself. You can't see yourself carrying a gun and making the right choices and therefore you try to pigeon hole others into your narrow-minded view of what is right.

Sorry guys, I'm not going to be executed because you are scared of what might happen when a citizen legally carries a firearm. If you really believe what you are saying then you wouldn't drive a car on public streets. You are far more likely to be killed there because of someone's incompetence than by me or the many other Americans who legally carry a weapon. Trust has absolutely nothing to do with restricting my right to self-defense. You want to be executed in a gun-free zone, fine, don't presume to choose how I die.

Bad things can happen when men are presented with freedom. That is the cost we all have to bear. You are willing to trade your freedom for a security blanket that was made by the same guys who made the Emperor's new clothes. Just like at VT, they might have felt safe with their no-gun zone, but in the end they weren't. I'll take the risk and the freedom to live like an honest man any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Posted by: Deavis at April 19, 2007 01:03 PM