Stopping Mechanisms and Standard Capacity Magazines
There are three ways that bullets influence behavior. We call them ‘stopping mechanisms’. They are:
1. Psychological stop
2. Central nervous system (CNS) stop
3. Hypovolemic shock (HVS) stop
A psychological stop occurs when you get the BG to change his mind about attacking you. Maybe you shot him; maybe you just convinced him you would shoot him if he persisted.
A CNS stop occurs when the bullet does something to the brain or spine that prevents the BG from using his hands. The signals aren’t getting from the brain to the muscles. The BG may be dead or he may be paralyzed or maybe the CNS is just stunned from a near miss to the spine.
Hypovolemic Shock occurs from a severe loss of blood volume. In our context, we reduce blood volume by putting holes in people with bullets. This is the mechanism we spend most of our time training toward and why our usual point of aim is the upper thoracic; that’s where the heart and arteries leading to the brain are.
It should be obvious that blood flows faster out of large holes than small holes; from deep holes more than shallow holes; from many holes better than fewer.
It takes time for an HVS stop to occur. The average body holds about 5 quarts of blood and it must lose about 1/5 of the total for shock to set in. We could be talking about several minutes. Considerations: Did we hit an artery? Did we damage an organ that bleeds a lot?
If you’re armed with a six shot revolver and dump all six rounds into the BG in 2 seconds, what do you intend to do while waiting for enough blood loss to occur that he finally passes out and stops hurting you?
Back in the mid 1980’s I was driving home from work in Charleston, SC. Around 2 am or so I got stopped by a red light in a small town. There were no other cars on the road, no one nearby. Then I noticed a man approach the intersection from a group of houses nearby. He began to cross in front of me and suddenly swerved toward my car. I leaned over and opened the glove box door to retrieve the handgun there. That movement, which he immediately recognized, was enough to make him change his mind, turn on his heels and walk back into the darkness. I achieved a Psychological Stop without firing a shot. That I didn’t have to shoot him was entirely up to him.
Last January Paul Ali Slater decided to break into a home outside Atlanta. It was about noon on a weekday. He rang the doorbell and, not getting an answer, retrieved a crowbar from his car and used it to break into the home. Inside was a mother and her two children. She armed herself with a six shot revolver and ran into an attic crawl space with Slater in pursuit. When he opened the door, she fired six times, emptying her revolver, getting five hits into his face and neck. Good job!
Slater was blown backward by the bullets and landed in a heap across the room and never moved another muscle. Wait… that’s not right. That’s the Hollywood Version. Actually, Slater’s response was to run from the house, climb into his Ford Explorer and drive away. He eventually lost consciousness, wrecked and was discovered by LEO’s responding to the 911 call. Last I heard he was in ICU.
Five hits in the face and neck, at close range and she achieved a Psychological Stop. But, if Slater had the ability and energy to leave the house and drive away, he had the ability and energy to continue the attack. That he didn’t was entirely up to him. Our heroine certainly influenced him, but the decision was his.
Does caliber matter?
The numbers say ‘not much’. But, I would suggest that’s true only because Psychological Stops are the overwhelmingly most likely stop of the three to occur. Stats say 30:1. And, as we’ve seen above Psychological Stops may occur with even zero rounds being fired.
So, how can we measure the success of one caliber or bullet over another when the primary stopping factor is psychological and determined solely by the BG’s mental state? We can’t. We can simply rely on logic and physics and play the odds.
Our thought process should be something like this:
“A Psychological Stop is likely to occur, but I can’t depend on it. My best chance of winning comes from inducing Hypovolemic Shock as quickly as possible, and bigger bullets make bigger holes, heavier bullets go deeper and track straighter, and more bullets are better than fewer.”
Here’s the problem from the perspective of magazine capacity: We place ourselves in a greater likelihood of getting hurt when we leave decisions about our welfare to the people that have already demonstrated an intent to hurt us. We should arm ourselves with tools that allow us to control the action as much as possible.
Think about that mother in Atlanta. What if Slater hadn’t changed his mind? She was out of ammunition and Slater was again potentially in control. What if he’d brought a partner? Or two? The results for that family could have been tragic. If 15 rounds in a magazine is a GOOD IDEA for an LEO who is often not alone or who might have backup a few blocks away, then it’s a good idea for you who ARE likely alone and your backup (911) doesn’t even know you’ve got a problem.
Lastly, if there’s one overwhelming piece of evidence in favor of you owning a standard capacity semi-auto (whether Glock of AR-15), it’s that the government doesn’t want you to own one. That alone should be enough to make every reasonable person go out and buy just as many as they can afford. By this time, anyone still trusting the government to do the right thing is delusional and probably shouldn’t own a firearm anyway.