I don’t make this stuff up, you know. So, here we go again.
For those who came in late, let’s go back to the Assault Weapons Ban. Passed in 1994, the feature of it that drew most attention from people who don’t own guns was the ban on the importation, and manufacture of some scary-looking (to some) kinda sorta military-looking rifles, like this one.
Less remarked upon, outside the gun community, was the ban on the sale of new standard capacity magazines — that’s the black, boxlike thingee that the cartridges go into. The theory was that since nobody — other than a cop — needs a magazine with more than ten rounds, and since magazines with more than ten rounds are bad if you don’t need them, much — or, at least some — goodness would ensue. Now, yeah, I know that’s silly. Granted few people can switch mags as fast as this guy, but realistically, it wasn’t much of a muchness to most people. A bad guy who wanted to murder a bunch of people with his Glock would, instead of carrying a couple of spare 15-round mags, would carry three ten-round mags.
A good — or, at least, okay — guy, who thought that he might need more than ten rounds would just carry a spare mag, or buy one of the “pre-ban” mags which were still available, to those who had the cash.
But something did happen. Since manufacturers could no long make guns for the noncop market that were designed around, say, fifteen-round magazines, they started designing more guns around ten-round or lower-capacity mags.
The Assault Weapons Ban inspired a new class of smaller guns — pocket pistols with ten rounds in fairly large calibers, like, say, these:
Which, naturally, made the folks in the anti-gun industry happy? Nah. They decided that the relatively new, smaller guns — largely a response to their own sponsored legislation — were evil: “Pocket Rockets“.
Well, the Assault Weapons Ban has been dead for four years, and people can, if and when they want to, buy new, standard-capacity magazines, even if the mags happen to hold fifteen or sixteen rounds, but the “pocket rockets” remain. (And for good reason; pocket carry, while not a cop thing, is often a very useful way for somebody who doesn’t want to draw attention to himself to keep a self-defense tool handy.)
Now, it would be untrue to say that the gun manufacturers are terribly sympathetic to the hysterical shouts from the antigun industry, but they do listen. Smith and Wesson, after some years of development, came up with a brand new handgun, developed around a brand-new round: the .500 Magnum:
Basically, it’s designed for folks for whom dealing with humongous recoil is a lot of fun, who are maybe going to be hunting something like grizzly bears with a handgun, and who have definitely have lots of money — forgetting ammo, the gun itself is going to run around a grand.
Surely, it’s something that even the hysterics at the Brady Center and the VPC couldn’t complain about. Heck, if Plaxico Burress had been trying to hide .500 Magnum in his shorts —
No, I’m not going to go there. Never mind. Back to the antgun folks. Having nothing real to complain about, they decide that the .500 is a “big boomer” (yeah, it is; I’ve been around one going off, once; it is kind of loud) and a “vest buster”.
There’s just no pleasing some people.
Awesome article. I hadn’t really drawn the connection between the AWB and “pocket rockets.”
And the .500 mag as an offensive hand gun? The only scenario it would work in is if someone broke in to your house and it was the only gun available to defend yourself with.
Seriously, I think the .500 mag and the .50 AE are going to go the way of the .44 mag. Fun to shoot, and can always impress whenever you talk about it. But useless for any practical purposes. Initially expensive and then as the round goes further and further to the way side, the round becomes even more expensive, fewer people use it, the round is pushed more to the way side, so on and so forth.
Joel Rosenberg says
I’m not as negative about .44 mag as you are. I think it’s a legitimate home/self-defense choice, with a very careful selection of ammo. (By no particulr coincidence…)
There was a time when I could have argued that the ability to practice with .44 special loads made it a better choice, but, by and large, .44spl ammo is more expensive, these days.
I don’t find .44 Magnum stuff fun to shoot, though. .50AE, though, is fun — much easier to handle the recoil, although not the drain on the bank account.
Glad I could connect the dots for you about the AWB and the pocket rockets; it’s one of my favorite unintended consequences.
Mark Draughn says
I’d missed the AWB connection to pocket rockets too. The professional anti-gun crowd is one of the worst examples of getting people to hate things they don’t understand. Unfortunately, it’s a divide-and-conquer approach that works: Assault weapons, Saturday-night specials, pocket rockets, cop-killers, sniper rifles…if they can pick this up again during the next few years, they’ll probably eventually want to close the “hunting rifle” loophole…
Joel Rosenberg says
Well, of course. A gun that is inexpensive is a “Saturday night special”; be kind of a shame if people without much money could afford to own a handgun. A rifle that is inaccurate is a “junk gun” or an “assault weapon”; if it can take a magazine that holds more than ten rounds, it is a “bullet hose”. An accurate rifle — say, one with better than 1 MOA accuracy, like my own Winchester Model 70 — is a “sniper rifle.”
Gotta get with the program.