According to experts who train in shooting, a ban on standard-capacity gun magazines will inhibit the ability of Vermonters to defend their family and country from threats foreign and domestic.
Darin Goens is a certified handgun trainer the NRA’s liaison to Vermont and other New England states. In response to the Vermont General Assembly’s ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, he said the proposal not only infringes on gun rights, but also puts law-abiding citizens at a tactical disadvantage against violent attackers.
“This law would tip the scale in favor of criminals,” Goens told True North. “Basically, there are various scenarios where you are at a severe disadvantage — for example, what if three armed assailants break into your house and you are stuck with a ten-round magazine?”
He said such situations are common during disasters, such as hurricanes, where armed looters and gangs have been known to storm people’s homes and businesses.
Such people are criminals, Goens says, and are not going to follow Vermont gun laws. The result is that law-abiding Vermonters become sitting ducks during home invasions and other life-threatening assaults.
“So when you are looking at any kind of a self-defense situation, and you’ve got a law-abiding citizen who is concerned about following the law and obeying the magazine limit, they are limited,” he said.
If S.55 is signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott, Goens and other gun-rights advocates say it will likely be challenged in court. Ten states have laws restricting magazine capacity, and numerous lawsuits have been launched to strike down those laws.
“Ultimately you are going to have a lot of lower courts in disagreement,” he said.
But in higher court rulings, recent decisions have trended in favor of Second Amendment gun rights. In New York, a seven-round limit was overturned at a federal court in Buffalo. The limit reverted back to the previous standard of 10 rounds.
Goens reminded that if S.55 becomes law, Vermonters can buy standard-capacity magazines out of state and bring them back to Vermont. The accessories have no serial numbers or dates, and can’t be checked for violations.
“I’m not sure they have the resources to [investigate magazine violations],” he said. “When you take something that’s a legal product currently and you ban it overnight, you turn people into criminals with the stroke of a pen.”
Women’s firearms instructor Lawerence Hamel, who conducts training around Hardwick, Vt., echoed some of the points made by Goens.
“What is important about the magazine capacity and the ability to own high-capacity magazines? The whole Second Amendment was written to protect us from the government as well as us protecting the government from a foreign invader,” Hamel said.
He referenced a quote often attributed to Japanese World War II naval commander Isoroku Yamamoto concerning why the Japanese military never attempted a mainland invasion of the United States.
“You cannot invade the mainland United States,” Yamamoto said. “There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”
Hamel asserted that’s why we need to have standard-capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets.
“It’s not for deer hunting. … We are willing to lay down our lives in protection of our country. It’s like that saying, ‘Love your country, fear your government.’”
He noted that law enforcement has expressed opposition to the new gun laws, especially the magazine limits. While much of their reasoning has related to the difficulty of enforcement, Hamel said another issue is that these often-undermanned departments look to armed civilians for backup.
“I mean look at the Hardwick police — how many times have you seen them on patrol by themselves?” he said. “If something were to happen to them, who’s their backup? We are.”
Following passage of S.55 last week,Texas-based Magpul Industries and the editors of Recoil Magazine delivered 1,200 30-round rifle magazines to Vermonters free of charge as part of an operation dubbed “Green Mountain Airlift.”
“They’ve got a wholesale value of $10 a piece, so that’s $12,000 worth of magazines that they gave away,” Hamel said.
He noted that magazine manufacturers did the similar giveaways after the Clinton administration pushed for magazine limits back in the 1990s.
“There were tens of millions of them,” he said. “And there are probably tens of millions of these magazines in the state of Vermont now.”