In the movies we see bad guys getting blasted back across the floor like an invisible hand smacked them with the force of a hurricane, and the movie wants the viewer to believe it was done by a single shot from a small handgun handled by some hot lady cop holding the gun with one hand- or something as equally foolish. However, for that to work, the cop would have to somehow violate the laws of physics, primarily Newton’s third law of motion. In a nutshell what it says is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So what does that mean in real life. Well, for the bad guy to fly across the room, the energy needed to make that happen would be felt by the lady cop holding the pistol with one hand. What we would see then is a man flying and a woman screaming in pain because her arm had just been shattered by the recoil. And that doesn’t happen.
What happens in real life when you shoot a bad guy is what the American Thinker points out, often nothing.
Why does anybody need a high capacity magazine? If Senator Manchin were to educate himself by, for example, attending Front Sight’s four-day defensive handgun class, he would learn the two primary answers:
(1) Failure to stop the aggressor, and
(2) Multiple aggressors
Failure to Stop
The classic .38 caliber revolver, with a capacity of six rounds, was the standard sidearm of the United States Army during the Moro insurrection in the Philippines. The Army found at least one dead Army officer with an empty sidearm, and his head split open by a machete or similar weapon. They also found the soldier’s killer, who had finally bled to death. Six rounds of .38 were therefore not enough to convince even one determined attacker.
Police instructor Masaad Ayoob’s The Truth About Self Protection adds an incident in which a female police officer saw a crazed gunman murder a woman, who then shot her as well before she could do anything. “She lay helpless as she watched a neighbor empty a .22 rifle into the killer; the neighbor then had to club the madman down with the empty rifle, again and again, before he succumbed.”
Ayoob does not report the size of the .22’s magazine, but the Moro insurrection exemplifies why even a 30-round rifle clip might not be enough to stop a crazed and determined attacker, such as one hopped up on a drug like PCP. “He had 32 Krag balls through him and was only stopped by the 33rd bullet — a Colt .45 slug through both ears.” The Krag-Jorgensen’s 30-caliber cartridge was far more powerful than the .22 in Ayoob’s example, but not sufficiently powerful to civilize this particular attacker even when fired in mass.
Colonel Jeff Cooper’s To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth adds the case of a man who was prosecuted for shooting his attacker eight times with a .380 automatic pistol. The prosecutor admitted that the dead man had been the aggressor, but argued that the shooter had taken the law into his own hands by continuing to shoot an adversary who had “obviously” been disabled. Cooper, whom the defense called as an expert witness, cited a suicide in which “the deceased shot himself amidships four times with a .380 Webley. Presumably the first three hits did not convince him.”
The .45-caliber Automatic Colt Pistol was the Army’s specific solution to the “failure to stop” problem in the Philippines. A single hit from a .45 caliber bullet will (per Cooper) stop the aggressor 95 percent of the time. This does not mean, however, that 7 or 8 rounds are enough for all conceivable defensive scenarios. Front Sight teaches students to change magazines in (ideally) less than two seconds. The other issue that Senator Manchin fails to recognize is that of multiple attackers.
Gang Bangers and the Knockout Game
Front Sight’s 4-day defensive handgun class included scenarios with multiple aggressors, including four gang bangers on a street and five or more in a house (along with innocent bystanders). Front Sight’s standard doctrine is to fire a controlled pair into an aggressor’s thoracic cavity and, in the event of failure to stop, another into his cranio-ocular cavity to take out his central nervous system.
In the street gang situation, though, one shot is fired into each gang member due to the need to economize on both time and ammunition; only those that don’t go down (or flee) then get “seconds.” You might conceivably stop four gang members with seven or eight rounds of .45 ACP; that is what the cartridge was designed to do. A small man or woman who can handle only a 9 mm comfortably might not be able to end the incident even with 15 or 17 rounds, unless he or she can make the far more difficult head shots. It is particularly telling that most police officers carry either .45s or high-capacity 9 mm sidearms.
The author is absolutely correct here. People do not react to being shot like you think they would. Over and over we heard stories of combat when our guys are seriously wounded and continue to fight on. In one case, a sergeant actually had his leg blown off, hanging by some tendons around the knee. He put on a tourniquet to stop the bleeding and then took a piece of rope and tied his leg to his upper leg so he could keep fighting! Yikes!!
But the point is he continued to fight when most of us would have been throwing the towel. Bad guys can act the same way. They can be and often are very tough to bring down.
Which is why we have to shoot them…a lot.
In addition, there is an assumption that shooting equals hitting. In a firefight there have been reports that a shooter with a perfect range score slips to less than twenty percent hit ratio while under fire. That is not surprising. Under pressure and stress, everyone’s skill set diminishes, sometimes to the point of ineffectiveness. A ten round magazine may equate to two rounds hitting somewhere on a body, not guaranteeing incapacitation. A seventeen round magazine means four rounds, doubling your chance to stop the threat and not get hurt or killed.
So the argument of why do we need seventeen rounds in a pistol or thirty in a rifle is pretty simple- we miss a lot and when we do hit something nothing happens right away.
Remember we are trying to stop a threat, not hurt it or kill it, we are trying to stop it. And the truth is unless we violate the rules of the universe it is going to take more than one magic movie bullet to do it.