First Principles

Why You Have a Constitutional Right to a High Capacity Magazine

Even as the very scenario that demonstrates the need for high-capacity magazines unfolded in St. Louis, the Colorado Supreme Court endorsed the view that you don’t need one.

With no police or security within sight, Mark and Patricia McCloskey stood with their backs to their house wielding a small pistol and an AR-15. The “peaceful protest” featured a screaming scrum of hundreds smashing down the gate to a privately-owned neighborhood as they poured onto the privately-owned street just a few feet from the McCloskey residence. Considering the many buildings the mobs in recent weeks have burned, the victims they have assaulted, and the neighborhoods they have destroyed, the McCloskeys determined to remain physically safe, if terrorized. The mob screamed at and taunted the McCloskeys. But it dared not assault the armed homeowners.

Less than 1,000 miles to the west, at almost the precise moment, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law banning the very magazine Mr. McCloskey used to load the weapon with which he defended his home from the mob. Seldom has history presented such a dramatic split screen. 

Even as the very scenario that demonstrates the need for high-capacity magazines unfolded in St. Louis, the Colorado Supreme Court endorsed the view that, “the fifteen-round limit was not only based on a valid, reasonable, safety concern, but is reasonable and does not impose on the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms for self-defense or defense of home or property.” 

Earlier that month, only a few short miles from the Colorado Supreme Court, shopkeepers watched helplessly as vandals and looters rampaged through their downtown area. How do mobs honor the memory of George Floyd by looting $25,000 in merchandise from a small business? George who? No such high-minded principle guides these mobs. 

We’ve been told we don’t need “weapons of war,” to protect ourselves because the police will do that job. Let’s be honest: against such forces the police can’t even protect themselves. Not since the post-Civil War reconstruction era have mobs conquered not one, but two police installations in major metropolitan areas. We don’t have to hypothesize about a potential breakdown in civil order. We have one. When the mobs have the political winds at their backs, the police are easily overwhelmed. 

What might the mob have done to the McCloskeys had they not produced a credible firearm deterrent? The McCloskeys reported seeing at least one handgun in the mob. They recounted how the mob threatened to burn down their house and harm them. This wasn’t an NRA fantasy invented to justify opposition to gun control laws. It happened. From June 29, 2020 onward, all bans on private ownership high-capacity magazines should be deemed unconstitutional.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled, “people almost never fire weapons in self-defense using more than two or three bullets, and Plaintiffs [failed] to present any evidence at trial that any person in Colorado has ever fired even close to fifteen rounds in self-defense.” Indeed, the McCloskeys never fired their weapon. So, by the logic of the Colorado Supreme Court, they had no need for the standard-capacity magazine for their AR-15. Heck, by that logic, the Colorado Supreme Court would have people like the McCloskeys use a toy gun with no bullets. Of course, it’s easy to see from a distance whether an AR-15 has a magazine loaded. Without a magazine, the AR-15 is just an expensive and ineffective club. It’s the very presence of that high capacity magazine in the McCloskey AR-15 that made firing it unnecessary.

Amid the growing calls to defund the police or “train” them to be more ineffective, the FBI’s background check system is overheating with record firearm purchases—3,900,000 last month alone. 

Now is a bad time to be disarming homeowners. Anonymous benefactors appear to be arming the mob with rifles pre-loaded with the very high capacity magazines the Colorado Supreme Court says we don’t need. In March, the Chinese were caught attempting to smuggle a shipment of illegal automatic weapons into the United States. According to law enforcement, “The Chinese dealers believed that the illegal weapons were going to be used by violent American gangs…About 2,000 fully automatic AK-47-type weapons from China were brought into the United States through the port of Oakland.” 

The day after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against individuals defending themselves, the Chinese were caught (again) smuggling 10,800 more assault weapons into Louisville, Kentucky. One publication asked the obvious question, “Is China Smuggling Guns into the U.S. to incite violence?” It’s certainly harvesting a “powerful propaganda opportunity” in the chaos and violence in the wake of the George Floyd riots.

Too many times in the last month, police have abandoned their citizens to the ruthless mob. Like a tool, every gun has a specific purpose. An AR-15, credibly loaded with a standard-capacity magazine, is exactly the right tool to hold off a violent mob threatening a home, a business, or bodily harm.