Readers Respond

High capacity magazines mean more stray bullets

In a recent article on gun control hearings in Annapolis ("Opinions differ on Md. gun controls," Feb. 7), Sonia Mangum of Stevensville is quoted as saying, in opposition to limits of the ammunition capacity in gun magazines, "If I am under duress, I am going to be missing and may not have time to reload."

She presents more of an argument why the capacity of magazines should be limited. How many of her bullets are being fired? How many are missing? Where are the bullets from those missed shots going? Into a crowded situation inside a movie theater, school classroom, street corner in the middle of the day, or into store full of shoppers? I was not able to locate any studies or findings in relation to civilians shooting and hitting or missing their targets.


However, a 2003 study by the Police Policy Studies Council reports that shots fired by police officers that hit the intended perpetrator range from as low as 25 percent to approximately 50 percent. The article cites Baltimore County Police as being one of the "best trained police departments" with regards to firearm use. This study reports that this best trained Baltimore County Police Department's overall gunshots fired-to-hit ratio was 49 percent. In daylight conditions, the ratio was 64 percent and that dropped to 45 percent in low light conditions.

Additionally, the study reports when more than one officer is involved, called bunch shootings, not only are more police gunshots fired, but the gunshot-to-hit ratio is even lower. The number of shots fired increases at a range of 45 percent to 118 percent. The range of gunshots fired-to-hits ratio when one officer was involved was 51 percent, when two officers involved the hit ratio dropped to 23 percent and more than two officers were involved the hit ratio dropped to 9 percent. Additionally, the study reports that semi-automatic weapons had lower gunshots fired-to-hit ratio.


The study also reports that an estimated 70 percent of police shootings are what are called "point-shootings." Point shooting is where the shooter does not aim with the gun sights but, merely points the gun in the direction of the target. Upward of 70 percent of police shootings are reported to be point-shootings. Additionally, most "targets" are not standing still and may be firing back at the shooter so the shooter may also be moving, all factors that reduce the shots fired-to-hit ratio.

In addition, the study reports that the data of various studies regarding the target range scores to actual hits in real life live fire incidents is inconclusive. However, the indicators are that proficiency of range shooting has no correlation to proficiency in real life live fire incidents. Furthermore, the study reports various data and findings anywhere from 18 percent to 43 percent were "mistake of fact shootings." This means that the officer or officers erroneously interpreted the facts and misjudged that they were in imminent danger and needed to use deadly force.

While I was not able to find any data or findings regarding innocent bystanders being shot, I note that the nine innocent people wounded last August near the Empire State Building were hit by police gunfire.

From this report, I conclude that allowing citizens to have high capacity ammunition magazines is absurd. Police officers who are not only trained in firearm use, but also trained in working "under duress," don't hit the intended target most of the time when firing their weapons. I, for one, certainly don't want to be in a movie theater or street corner when Ms. Mangum shows up toting a semi-automatic pistol with a high-capacity magazine because there is very high probability that the majority of her shots will be stray bullets.

When the chief of the Baltimore County Police Department, "one of the best trained police departments," calls for banning high capacity magazines and assault style weapons, I believe the legislature should heed his advice.

Jonathan Reidy, Towson