Eugene Volokh pens a thoughtful piece on banning large gun magazines. First, he makes the argument that limiting the size of the magazine would be similar to regulating the volume of music, which is not the same as banning free speech. This argument’s always been fairly convincing to me. After all, conservatives are the ones who also tend to be anti-proliferation, so clearly we don’t think the right to arms is completely absolute. At the same time, Volokh makes one very interesting point: it’s very easy to change magazines, which means that the ban would likely not substantially affect mass killings (though they probably would also not substantially affect self-defense). One particularly interesting fact Volokh notes: “only a tiny fraction of gun homicides involve more than 10 shots fired.” Regardless, it’s a great, informative, and fairly short read.
But, as the block quote above notes, the restrictions are also unlikely to help prevent crime, given how quick and easy it is to change magazines, and given the likelihood that mass shooters will have a backup gun that they could use to protect themselves while they are changing the magazine. It is conceivable that a magazine size ban will help limit the deadliness of some mass attacks, if the murderers comply with the law and don’t get a black-market magazine; the Jared Loughner killings, according to press accounts, were stopped when Loughner stopped to reload and was tackled by several people.