Bracken: Seven And Thirty

From Matt Bracken:

Seven And Thirty

In New York, tax slaves are officially worth one-quarter of a government overlord.

Now and then you hear someone mention that during the slave era in American history, blacks in the South were worth only three-fifths of a full person. Paradoxically, or perhaps counter-intuitively, it was Southern slave owners who wanted to count black slaves as full people, for the purpose of congressional apportionment (while denying them the vote and most basic human rights). Northern abolitionists wanted blacks not to count at all, in order to deny the South congressional seats, and both sides agreed to a compromise of three-fifths. Regardless of how the fraction was arrived at, the idea of an antebellum slave being worth three-fifths of a full person has stuck.

Today in New York, an ordinary citizen is only worth seven-thirtieths of an elite government employee (who is, ironically, still referred to as “a servant of the people”). That is .233 if you do the division. Less than one-quarter; and one-quarter, if your math is rusty, is less than half of three-fifths. How did I arrive at the 7/30 ratio? Because today in New York, the proles are only permitted by their masters to own ammunition magazines with a maximum capacity of seven cartridges. This scant number, while the government elites are guarded by phalanxes of armed bodyguards carrying standard-capacity thirty-round magazines in their own semi-automatic “assault rifles.” Clearly, these elites consider their own lives to be worth four times more than ours.

I doubt that any members of the New York Legislature who voted for the new gun control law understand why the number seven is significant, compared to, say, six, or eight, or ten, or any other number up to and beyond thirty. Let me explain why it matters. Entire broad classes of firearms will be rendered illegal or not, depending on that arbitrarily chosen number.

For example, setting the number of allowable cartridges at seven means that thousands of New Yorkers who brought an M-1 Garand rifle home from World War II and Korea, or their heirs, will never again be allowed to fire them. This was the rifle wielded by Walt Kowalski in the film Grand Torino, when that dangerous old man growled, “Get off my lawn.”

Thousands more surplus Garands were sold to the law-abiding public for decades under the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The old Garand’s en-bloc clips hold eight rounds, one over the limit. There are no other clip sizes or options. Sorry, Grandpa, or Grandpa’s descendents. Gramps may have fought and bled on Normandy or Okinawa with that rifle, but after all these decades your government no longer trusts him or you to shoot it.

What a slap in the face of “The Greatest Generation,” to disarm them of their venerable M-1 Garands. This forty-four-inch rifle weighs ten pounds and fires the century-old .30-06 cartridge. Perfect for hunting, yet damn near useless for sticking up convenience stores. No matter.

But the same seven-round limit may mean a rebirth of interest in the century-old Colt .45 Model 1911 pistol. Its standard magazine holds seven big .45 caliber rounds. Good news, Old Sarge, you can keep the pistol you souvenired back from Korea! After sixty years, the government still trusts you with it—at least for now.

Which brings up another question: What about all the millions of Glocks and similar modern defensive pistols in private hands, whose original factory-made magazines typically hold between fourteen and twenty rounds? (Please note that these are not high capacity pistol magazines, these are standard capacity.) Each pistol usually has three or four magazines. Will the magazines all have to be destroyed?

But what about the police? Don’t they have countless thousands of Glocks and AR-15s? So far there is no “carve-out” granting law enforcement an exemption for the standard capacity magazines for their pistols and rifle-caliber patrol carbines. (That is, their “assault rifles.”) Don’t worry, I’m sure that an exception will swiftly be granted to law enforcement officers, so they can carry on performing their vital duties with the highest levels of firepower.

What is this, then? One set of rules for the masters, and another for the peasants?

That’s exactly what it is. But the political power elites will say that they need the greater firepower for their protection! To which I will ask, So my family doesn’t deserve the same opportunities for protection that are afforded to you? Because you are a ruler and I am the ruled, your life is worth four times more protection than mine? In New York, yes.

This is more than a theoretical or rhetorical point. This can be a question of life and death. I relate the recent true story of a young mother in Georgia, alone with her small children in her house while her husband was at work. A home invader pried open the young mother’s door with a crowbar, then searched the house for her and her children. She hid in the attic with her terrified children until he ultimately located her. The mother, in defense of her children, emptied her revolver, hitting him five times without killing him. In fact, he was able to walk out of the house. A good outcome, indeed. Five out of six shots did the job—barely—against a lone home invader.

But what if there had been two, or three, or more thugs? She and her children might very well be dead. If there is more than one home invader — and these crimes are typically carried out by small gangs, not individuals — a pistol with a standard-capacity magazine holding approximately fifteen cartridges might well prove the margin between life and death. But in New York, the decision about ammunition capacity is now being made for you. Make do with seven rounds—live or die — it’s simply not our problem.

Which brings me back to those exalted masters of the political universe, who pontificate against gun ownership among the plebes while surrounded by rings of bodyguards armed with pistols, shotguns, and “assault rifles.” You know the uber-elites I mean, the high government officials who can sniff out a network television camera from two city blocks away. Oh, how they rail against gun violence, and oh, how they wish society could be rid forever of the plague of guns! Then look around and behind them for the hard-faced men with the ear buds and reflective shades and suspicious bulges under their jackets.

If you can get close enough, ask these policemen, security agents and armed guards what magazine capacity they are limited to. They won’t answer you, they won’t even crack a smile. They may whisper into their throat mics about the suspicious character asking nosy questions. And their eminences? Those elite politicians at the center of that ring of firepower will pretend that you don’t exist as they’re being hustled from armored limo to luxury portal. Nevertheless, let’s imagine for just a moment that we have their attention.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, do your bodyguards limit themselves to the same seven-round magazines that your state now mandates for the commoners? Governor Andrew Cuomo, chief proponent of the new gun control law, the same question to you. How many bullets in your bodyguards’ firearms? Mayor Michael Bloomberg, if you claim that your personal bodyguards do not have thirty-round magazines in their “patrol carbines” and full-capacity (that is, fourteen- to twenty-round capacity) magazines in their pistols, I will call you a liar to your face. We both know better.

Schumer, Cuomo, Bloomberg, and their ultra-hypocritical ilk will never stoop to answer my forthright questions about their own armed protection, but maybe you can do it for me. If you happen to run into them—or, for that matter, any New York politician or bureaucratic big shot traveling with a security detail—just ask them. For that matter, ask any cop at all. You New Yorkers are famously up-front and in-your-face people, right? So just ask them this:

“Hey, Buddy! Yeah, you, Lieutenant. How many bullets you got in that Glock? A seven-rounder? Didn’t know they made ’em. Why don’t you show it to me? How about that AR-15 in your squad car? Seven-round mags in there too? Oh, give me the dirty look, eh? Yeah, I see, I’m just a nobody. Just a working stiff, a real schmuck. Joe Taxpayer—just the guy who pays your salary, that’s all. Don’t worry, I get it. How could I be so stupid? I’m just worth one-quarter of your highness.”

Seven-thirtieths, to be exact.

But cheer up.

If President Obama has his way, outside of New York ordinary peons will be permitted (for a while) to own ten-round magazines. In that case, your life will be worth one-third of a government overlord’s.

Until they decide to downgrade the value of your life once again.

Matt Bracken graduated from the University of Virginia and UDT/SEAL training in 1979. He is the author of Enemies Foreign and Domestic and three other novels about defending freedom, as well as numerous essays on the same subject.