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January 19, 2011

Cheney: Sure, Maybe We Should Limit Magazine Sizes

Before this statement, there likely would have been no laws passed in the wake of Tucson. The Democrats had been too afraid to even broach the question -- I think that's a central reason why they are trying to tie Sarah Palin and Glen Beck to the shootings. Since they are too cowardly to even ask for some kind of new gun law, but what some political victory from the six deaths, that leaves them sputtering about rhetoric.

But that was before Cheney, a member of the strong conservative wing in good standing (despite his understandable ambivalence about gay marriage), offered this up.

It had occurred to me, as I'm sure it occurred to many, that 33 round pistol magazines aren't used in hunting, and probably not in home defense, either, begging the question of precisely what the usefulness of such a magazine is. But I know the general stance of the Second Amendment caucus is that no additional regulation shall be passed, because, even if a regulation is more cosmetic than serious, it sets a bad precedent, re-affirms the government's right to impose other regulations, and ultimately moves the possibility of a real "gun grab" slightly along the confiscatory track.

Still, I'm always less than impressed by that sort of slippery slope argument. There is some truth in the slippery slope argument, but generally the argument is put forward when there are few other good arguments available -- thus the argument becomes not that x is so catastrophic, but x makes y more likely, and y is bad, and y makes z more likely, and z is terrible. But I can't avoid the implication contained in this argument -- So you're saying x, by its own terms, really isn't all that bad? Except to the extent that it makes y possible? Well, can't we just stop y, then?

Of course, I am not really a member of the Second Amendment caucus.

Anyway, I didn't bring that up because there seemed to be no point -- I don't think that banning large-capacity magazines is unconstitutional, nor do I think it will prove to be terribly effective at all; it's mostly (mostly) symbolic pap that can only have the most trivial effect on things either way. And so it's probably not worth it to even concede a trivial point.

As I said: The Democrats are too scared to bring this up, except for the super-safe Representatives in super-liberal districts. But the few remaining Blue Dogs are scared to death to broach the question, and even liberals in gun-friendlier states aren't going to take chances.

So, since it wasn't going to happen, why bother even mentioning it?

But Cheney's statement does actually now make this a live possibility, if only a small possibility. Some Democrats might find "courage" in hiding behind Cheney and argue in favor of it.

Which means it's now an issue for Republicans, too: Can we advance any strong argument, besides the slippery slope, that people should have 33-round pistol magazines?

Extended Clip? 33-round mags are extended clips, right? That is, they extend well below the grip of the gun.

Usually that is just used with automatic pistols, right? Or like tiny machine guns like the Uzi? But automatic pistols are generally illegal, right?

Just asking.

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posted by Ace at 01:24 PM

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