Magazine Capacity Limits Saves Lives

I’ll try and be brief. In the wake of the recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the discussion of gun regulation has once again surfaced in public debate.

Many are calling for a ban on the sales of assault-type weapons. However, I’ve seen many claim there is no such thing as an assault weapon. Just today, Rush Limbaugh stated on his nationally syndicated radio show:

Let’s go through these gun terms just for the heck of it here, for what it might matter. “Assault weapon.” “Assault rifle.” There is no such thing. Go to a gun store and tell ’em you want an assault weapon, and the guy will look around and show you his entire inventory and say, “Pick one.” But there is nothing — no brand, no label — that identifies the weapon as an assault rifle or assault weapon.

I don’t even want to go there. I don’t care. However, the amount of bullets a weapon can fire before reloading – that is something I care about.


It saves lives. I know this from first hand experience.

On July 27, 2008, Jim Adkisson pulled a semi-automatic shotgun from a guitar case and fired three shots into my church congregation at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. After the third shot, he was subdued by five brave and unarmed men: John Bohstedt, Robert Birdwell, Arthur Bolds, and Terry Uselton and visitor Jamie Parkey. I can still remember him yelling that they were hurting him. They had broken his arm.

Why only three shots?

Typical shotguns sold in the United States have a tubular magazine with a capacity of 6-8  cartridges (shells). However, most states have game and fish regulations which limit the magazine capacity of a shotgun to three shells for migratory bird hunting. In other words, we want to give the ducks a sporting chance. As a hunter, you do not want to get caught in the field during duck season with a shotgun holding more than three shells in the magazine – even if you’re hunting something else – like deer.

Most hunting shotguns are arguably used for duck hunting while many deer hunters, but not all, prefer rifles. Because of this, most shotguns are sold with a magazine plug installed. This magazine plug limits the amount of shells that can be loaded into the shotgun to three. A knowledgeable gun owner that is mechanically inclined could easily remove the magazine plug. There are even instructions in most owners manuals for how to install and remove this plug. For instance, on page 11 of the Remington Model 870 Semi-automatic Shotgun Owner’s Manual, provides step-by-step instructions.

Thankfully, Jim Adkisson wasn’t a knowledgeable gun owner. Had he been and and removed this magazine plug, five more shots would have been fired before he was stopped.

Considering all the recent mass shootings, how many more people would be alive had the shooter’s weapon had a limited capacity of rounds and they had to stop and reload?