Nobody needs more than seven rounds for self defense

Friday, September 27th, 2019

The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 restricted the sale of normal-capacity magazines; it only allowed seven rounds of capacity. Older magazines were “grandfathered” in, but you weren’t supposed to load them with more than seven rounds.

Chris Hernandez noted at the time that nobody needs more than seven rounds for self defense:

After all, when you shoot someone even once, they fly through the air and drop dead, just like in the movies.

I arrived on a robbery call one night. A robber had shot a man through the sternum with a 9mm hollow point. He looked dead. I got on the radio and notified dispatch that we had a murder. Thirty seconds later, the victim started moaning and squirming. Less than a minute later he was fully conscious and complained, “This is the fifth time I’ve been shot.”

But nobody needs more than seven rounds. One round is usually fatal. And nobody could possibly still be a threat after being shot more than once.

The same robbers shot another victim that night. One round in the ankle, one in the face and one in the forehead. 9mm hollow points. This victim turned and ran about 500 yards through an apartment complex, pounded on a door to beg for help, and passed out. Last I heard, years after the shooting, he’s still alive.

But nobody needs more than seven rounds. When you shoot someone, they fall to their knees, pledge their soul to Jesus, gasp dramatically and die.

I answered a disturbance call one night. A teenage girl calmly told me that she had gotten into a fight with her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. Several minutes into the story she informed me she had been shot through the thigh. I looked down and saw a bullet wound through her leg. She was completely unconcerned about it.

I responded to a burglary in progress. A teenager on PCP picked a random house and started kicking the sun room door in. The homeowner stood by the door with his 9mm pistol, called 911 and warned the teenager he was armed. The teenager kicked the door in. The homeowner shot him in the leg, then retreated into the house. The teenager forced his way into the kitchen. The homeowner shot him in the stomach. When we arrived, we had to wrestle the teenager into handcuffs. Had the teenager been armed, he still could have fired a weapon.

But nobody needs more than seven rounds. Seven rounds are more than enough to stop any criminal threatening you. When a criminal gets shot, their body’s entire blood supply sprays onto all the walls and they die within milliseconds.

I answered a call about a man with a gun. When I knocked on an apartment door, a drunk inside pointed a gun at me through a window. I jumped out of the way, drew my weapon and screamed at the drunk to drop the gun. He kept moving the gun, trying to get me in his sights. Another officer in a different spot shot him.

When we got inside the apartment, we found the suspect wide awake, flailing around on the floor. Fortunately a family member had disarmed him. He could still have shot us. The officer had hit him under the left arm. The round went all the way through his upper body and stopped just under the skin below his right arm. Last I heard, years after the shooting, the drunk was still alive.

But nobody needs more than seven rounds. When someone is trying to kill you, all you have to do is fire slowly and carefully to make sure you don’t run out. You can even count your rounds as you shoot. It’s easy.

When investigators asked the officer who saved my life how many rounds he fired, he said, “Two or three, I think.” But when they counted rounds in his magazine, it turned out he had fired eight. He had been a cop for over twenty years, and was a survivor of several shootings. Under stress, he lost count of his rounds. Because that’s what happens when you’re shooting to save your life, or to save someone else’s life.

But nobody needs more than seven rounds. You can just shoot the bad guy in the head. It’s easy to make a head shot under stress, right? And they’re immediately fatal.

I answered a stabbing call at a nightclub. When I arrived I found two women standing at the open door of a truck, telling the driver, “You’ll be okay.” When I shined my flashlight on the driver, I was stunned; he hadn’t been stabbed, he had been shot in the head with a .38 from close range. About a third of his skull was blown away. And he wasn’t just alive, he was awake. He nodded to the women, wiped his face, did his best to stay calm. When paramedics arrived, the man got out of the truck with minimal assistance. He died hours later.

I arrived on a shooting/riot outside a club. One man was dead in the street, another had been taken to the hospital by private car. As we tried to control the crowd, a severely beaten young man walked up to me and slurred, “Hey man, we need an ambulance.” I answered, “Yeah, we have one on the way.” As I spoke, I noticed a bloody dent on the side of the young man’s head. I thought, Is that a bullet hole? The man collapsed at my feet. A 9mm Black Talon hollow point had bounced off his skull. The wound didn’t put the man down until several minutes after he was shot. He survived.

I assisted on a rollover accident. The driver was an older woman who lost control of her truck. At the emergency room, a CAT scan revealed a bullet in her head. The woman died. Her husband was unconscious. Days later, when the husband awakened, investigators asked who shot his wife. The man answered, “Oh yeah, that. She told me she got shot in the head about ten years ago, before we got married. She never went to the doctor or nothing, though.” An autopsy showed it was an old wound. This woman got shot in the head, and never even bothered to get medical attention.

But nobody needs more than seven rounds. If little bullets don’t work, get a pistol that fires bigger bullets. Nobody could still be a threat after being hit by a big round.

In one of our firefights in Afghanistan, three French Marines were hit by gunfire. One died from a head wound. The other two were hit in the upper body and badly wounded. Those two Marines got back to their feet, kept their weapons ready and made it to safety with help. And they were hit by either 7.62×39 AK-47 rounds or 7.62x54R PKM machine gun rounds. Those are far more powerful than what any typical pistol fires.

These stories are all from my personal experience. Secondhand, I know of a man who was shot in the forehead, sneezed and blew the round out his nose. I know of a gang member who had half his head blown off by an AK round, then told the first responding officer, “They shot me, dog.” I know of a robber who ran into a restaurant with an Uzi and was immediately shot twice by an off-duty officer, then ran to a payphone and called 911 to report he had been shot.

Historically speaking, I know of the suspect in the Miami FBI shootout who sustained a non-survivable wound in the first few seconds of the fight, but still managed to kill two FBI agents and wound several others. I know of a drunk suspect who shot an Arkansas deputy twice, then took seventeen 9mm rounds in the torso without effect before the deputy finally shot him twice in the face. I know of the young Georgia mother who shot a burglar five times in the head and neck. He asked her to stop shooting, cried, and drove away. I know of many Soldiers and Marines who sustained horrible wounds and stayed in the fight.


  1. Kirk says:

    This is why you don’t shoot to wound; you don’t shoot to magically end the problem with a single shot; you shoot, instead, to stop. Either slide lock, running out of ammo, or the assailant is laying there and no longer moving. Anything else is madness.

    There’s a Marine out there who watched an Iraqi insurgent take at least two hits from a .50 caliber HMG, and was still standing there with his RPG, trying to get a firing solution on his tank. The gunner loaded an AP round, and vaporized the bastard.

    Hearing that, I wasn’t real surprised. Humans are incredibly hard to kill, especially the motivated ones.

    And, conversely? Sometimes, they’re amazingly easy to kill–Friend of mine had a little brother that was playing with one of his friends, doing what millions of little boys with BB guns have done since their invention, playing war with them. The rules were, you couldn’t pump the guns more than twice, which means that the damn BB could probably be seen in flight. Kid brother popped his head up unexpectedly, inserting his temple into the path of the BB, which was aimed at another player. Killed his ass dead, right there, barely left a mark on him.

  2. Alrenous says:

    Is…is he being sarcastic? I’m not sure. Maybe 7 rounds are enough? I’ll have to think deeply about this.

    Jokes aside I greatly appreciate all these specific examples. Tremendous spiffiness.

  3. Lu An Li says:

    Just carry half a dozen magazines with seven rounds. Reloading under stress I am told very difficult.

    Those that are interested will want to view the You Tube video of the Chevy Kehoe shoot out. Two trained shootists, one an Ohio state trooper and the other a whitey survivalist exchanging repeated shots at very close range and nary a hit.

  4. Kirk says:

    The thing that most people don’t get about gunfights outside a military firefight context…? Just how ‘effin… Random… The whole thing is.

    One, hitting someone that’s outside arm’s reach with a pistol is not easy. You want to do it with some reliability, you have to spend the tuition in terms of range time, proper practice, and ammo. You’re not going to just “pick up a gun” and kill someone outside of 20 feet with any form of reliability or consistency in result, especially if you’re talking one of the larger, less-controllable calibers.

    I’ve seen some total neophytes manage to hit accurately the first time they picked up a pistol, but those people are few and far, far between. Most of the time, you get outside that fistfight range, and you’re looking at literal “spray and pray” results, with the random bullet intersecting bystanders and other impedimentia a lot more often than the target. Hell, even “trained” shooters do that, under stress. Rare is the man or woman who keep their heads, practice good aim, and hit their targets.

    We had a local sheriff’s deputy chance upon a guy with a black-powder revolver, who when surprised, chose to shoot it out with the deputy. 28 rounds later, in the middle of town? Ain’t nobody hit, nohow, nowhere–The deputy just hosed down the area with his 9mm, and thank God most of the town was empty, because he was literally in the middle of it. I kept waiting for someone to report a week or so later that they’d finally checked on Grandma or Great Uncle Ron, to find they’d been centerlined by Deputy Fife, and nobody’d noticed in all the excitement.

    People have a really unrealistic idea of things, when it comes to the efficacy of the handgun. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large component of their effectiveness and lethality actually stems from people’s expectation that “Oh, he is shooting at me… I’m going to die.” or “I’ve been hit, time to die…”. Like as not, you find a population that’s got no idea at all what the loud noise and flash mean, and who aren’t conditioned into automatic reaction…? I suspect that a large part of what makes handguns effective is just going to evaporate.

  5. Sam J. says:

    Lu An Li before I saw your comment I immediately thought of the same video.

  6. Sam J. says:

    Want to see a full blown psychopath? This was a link on the same page as the video above. Look at this sweet little blonde haired girl. Psychopath(for legal reasons…I think…she’s a psychopath). They try to make out that she was a victim but… if you read the whole story around her she horribly tortured a guy who was totally zonked on psychedelics while blaming it on everyone else and manipulating everyone around her. Of course, her being so sweet, she got away with it. It’s an interesting story. She was totally hot.

    I met another girl once that acted exactly the same. She tried to convince me that she was so naive and sweet but let slip that she was a stripper????? That didn’t compute…so I asked around and she was trouble, trouble, trouble and fortunately I know about psychopaths, a little, and stayed away. She was hot though also. Wonder what ditch I would have ended up in if she had talked me into hanging with her.

  7. Paul from Canada says:

    During the Falklands War, at Mount Tumbledown, a British Platoon Commander was hit in the head by a 7.62 NATO round. It took off a big piece of his skull and destroyed about a third of his brain. He remained conscious.

    He has some sort of seizure disorder, and some hemiplegia, but otherwise recovered.

    There is no such thing as “stopping power” in terms of science.

  8. Alrenous says:

    Did you know Wikipedia is a comedy site?

    [The misericorde] was used to dispatch knights who had received mortal wounds, which were not always quickly fatal in the age of bladed combat

    Did you know? For humans, lead = kryptonite.

  9. Harry Jones says:

    I was taught (by NRA) to “shoot to stop.” I got the strong impression that it was strictly for legal reasons, to avoid a manslaughter rap.

    The implication was that if you shoot to stop, the perp will probably die as a consequence. From a legal point of view, that’s a mere side effect. Just tell the judge “I shot to stop, not to kill. It just so happened he died.”

    Aim for the upper torso to stop, I was told. It so happens that a bullet there will likely kill, but that’s not your problem.

  10. Kirk says:

    It is unfortunate that the legal considerations for self-defense matters have come to be as important as they have. On the one hand, it discourages people from doing the emphatic things that would dissuade their assailants, lest they be prosecuted for brandishing or threatening, and on the other hand, it encourages people to go beyond that which would effectively dissuade, and instead, kill their assailants.

    There is a happy medium, but I don’t think our civilization can manage it. Too many idealistic perfectionists–It’s like the current case with Amber Guyger. The guys who want to tear down the law to get at her fail to recognize that the entire issue of “perception on the part of the shooter” being used to justify her shooting of Botham Jean. It’s not that she was right to do so, but that the gray area surrounding the whole “I thought I was in my apartment…” thing is being taken to her advantage, when it’s really to the advantage of all of us. The minute these idiots get what they want, they’re going to find that they’re being prosecuted for not having God-like omniscience when they go to defend themselves, and have shot someone based on the facts they had presented to them in the situation, and which they perceived in the moment.

    You take away that form of defense, that you perceived a threat at the time of your action, you’re going to see an awful lot of “good guys” prosecuted for things they had no way of knowing. And, that’s the slippery slope these folks going after Guyger are on, entirely ignorant of the overall implications.

    Bad cases make bad law, period.

  11. Harry Jones says:

    The first rule of self defense is to survive. All legal considerations come in second to this. Better life in prison than an ignominious death.

    Bad law makes bad cases.

    But if legal considerations come in second, at least they place. First survive, then try to stay out of prison afterward.

    Don’t do what you can’t get away with, but do what you must, without shame. And remember there’s more than one direction the smackdown can come from. When the universe decides to put you on trial for your life, no one has your back except you. Know the laws of the universe.

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