High-capacity magazine ban

law that restricts magazine capacity in firearms

A High-capacity magazine ban is a law which bans or otherwise restricts high-capacity magazines, that is, detachable firearm magazine|s that can hold more than a certain number of rounds of ammunition. For example, in the United States, the now-expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 included limits regarding magazines that could hold more than ten rounds. Eight U.S. states, and a number of local governments, ban or regulate magazines that they have legally defined as high-capacity.




  • The best way to address the firepower concern is therefore not to try to outlaw or license many millions of older and perfectly legitimate firearms (which would be a licensing effort of staggering proportions) but to prohibit the possession of high capacity magazines. By a simple, complete and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining 'assault rifle' and 'semi-automatic rifles' is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item. A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could effectively implement these objectives.
    • William B. Ruger, American firearm designer and entrepreneur, in March 30, 1989 letter sent to every member of the United States Congress (William B. Ruger (1992). "An Open Letter". American Handgunner 12 (5).).




  • A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls -- such as expanding background checks at gun shows and stopping the import of high-capacity magazines -- and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, and Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Their measure would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns.
    Real gun control will take courage. In the long run, half-measures and compromises only sacrifice lives.


  • Yesterday Connecticut gunmaker Sturm, Ruger & Co. announced an “Inaugural Special“ for high-capacity ammunition magazines for its Mini-14 rifles, a weapon nicknamed the “poor man’s assault rifle.” According to Ruger:
    From November 4, 2008 to January 20, 2009, fans of the Ruger Mini-14 Target Rifles and Mini-14 Ranch Rifles, both chambered for .223 Remington, can purchase Ruger manufactured 20-round magazines (regularly priced at $39.95) for only $29.95. This special offer is only available through the Ruger On-line Store. Please note that these magazines are not available where state or local regulations limit magazine capacity to less than 20 rounds.




  • ...at the federal level, gun control advocates have quickly zeroed in on the “high-capacity” ammunition magazine used by the suspect, Jared L. Loughner.
    Gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds were banned under the federal assault weapons ban until the statute expired at the end of 2004. Today, just six states and the District of Columbia limit the sale of such magazines.
    Mr. Loughner was carrying two extended magazines that held 31 rounds each, as well as two "regular" magazines that were not high-capacity, when he opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol on a crowd outside a Tucson supermarket on Saturday, said Deputy Erin Gibson, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff's office. She added that deputies later recovered 31 shell casings.
    It was only when he stopped to reload that bystanders were able to tackle him.
    “The reason he was able to be tackled was he had to pause to reload,” said Dennis Henigan, vice president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that works to change gun laws and the gun industry. “The problem is, he didn’t have to pause to reload until he’d already expended 30 rounds.”
  • The sickening shooting spree in Tucson holds many lessons for our country, but the most important is this: It's much too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on deadly weapons.
    We must change this.
    A good start is by banning high-capacity gun magazines -- which allow scores of bullets to be loaded at one time -- such as the one used in the Tucson massacre that left six people dead and 14 others wounded, including my colleague, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
    According to news reports, Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter in Tucson, used a 33-round magazine in a murderous rampage. The sheriff says 31 spent rounds were found on the scene.
    As we now know, a group of heroic bystanders stopped the shooter by wrestling him to the ground. But they didn't have an opportunity to intervene until he emptied the magazine and paused to reload.
    If the shooter didn't have access to the high-capacity magazine that he used, he would have stopped to reload sooner and lives might have been saved.
    Loughner's magazine was attached to a 9 mm Glock 19 semi-automatic handgun, which is the preferred weapon of deranged madmen. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho used the same model in the Virginia Tech shooting spree, which claimed 32 lives.
  • What they have spent less time discussing are the tools that allowed Loughner to allegedly carry out the attack - the high powered weapon and ammunition that helped him do so much damage so quickly. Arizona has some of the laxest gun laws in the nation, laws that allowed Loughner to purchase and carry a Glock 19 9mm semi-automatic pistol - and high-capacity clips - despite the fact that he was barred from his community college campus because administrators saw him as a mentally-unstable security threat...The clip allegedly used by Loughner, which allows for 33 shots without reloading instead of about 10 in a normal clip, would have been illegal under the assault weapons ban that Congress let expire in 2004.
  • Further, some of these vendors of high-capacity magazines also boast executives who are board members of the NRA. Ronnie Barrett, the CEO of Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, which makes a military-style rifle sold with high-capacity magazines, was elected to the NRA board in 2009. And Pete Brownell, who runs Iowa-based Brownells Inc., which also makes high-capacity magazines, joined the NRA board in 2010.
    The strong financial and corporate ties to the NRA underscore how the gun rights goliath has become increasingly intertwined with some of the nation’s leading accessory vendors that sell high-capacity magazines. All have big stakes in fighting a pending gun control measure in Washington.
  • Who does the National Rifle Association represent? In its direct-mail solicitations and public statements, the NRA presents itself as the uncompromising voice of the American gun owner. But new research reveals that since 2005 the NRA has received millions of dollars from the gun industry. The means by which the industry helps fund the NRA vary: from million-dollar industry grants to a program that rounds up gun store customers’ purchases to the nearest dollar with the difference going to the NRA—including a contribution from a soon-to-be mass shooter buying ammunition. Corporate contributors to the NRA come from every sector of the firearms industry, including: manufacturers of handguns, rifles, shotguns, assault weapons, and high-capacity ammunition magazines; gun distributors and dealers; and, vendors of ammunition and other shooting-related products. And they come from outside the firearms industry—including Xe, the new name for the now-infamous Blackwater Worldwide...
    The depth and breadth of gun industry financial support for the National Rifle Association makes clear that the self-proclaimed “America’s oldest civil rights organization” is, in fact, the gun industry’s most high-profile trade association. While the NRA works to portray itself as protecting the “freedoms” of its membership, it is, in fact protecting the gun industry’s freedom to manufacture virtually any gun or accessory it sees fit to produce....
    The mutually dependent nature of the National Rifle Association and the gun industry explains the NRA’s unwillingness to compromise on even the most limited controls over firearms or related products (such as restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines) and its support of legislation that clearly favors gunmakers over gun owners (such as legislation limiting the legal rights of gun owners killed or injured by defective firearms). The NRA claims that its positions are driven solely by a concern for the interests of gun owners, never mentioning its own financial stake in protecting the profits of its gun industry patrons.


  • Shot for shot, either a .45-caliber Colt 1911 or a .44 Smith & Wesson revolver will do more damage than a Glock nine-millimeter.
    Still, a Glock, or another large-capacity semiautomatic, can make a very bad situation even worse. During a mass shooting, such as the Luby’s massacre in 1991, a deft gunman can fire more rounds and reload more quickly with a modern pistol equipped with hefty magazines. When Seung-Hui Cho slaughtered thirty-two classmates and professors at Virginia Tech in April 2007, he used two pistols: a nine-millimeter Glock 19 and a smaller .22-caliber Walther. Considerable media attention focused on the fifteen-round compact Glock and the fact that it enabled Cho to unleash a greater volume of rounds in less time. Whether his choice of the Austrian brand raised the horrific body count remains a matter of speculation. It probably did.
    There is no question that Jared Lee Loughner created more carnage in January 2011 because he brought a newly purchased Glock19 to a political gathering in a shopping mall in suburban Tucson, Arizona. On a sunny Saturday morning, Loughner, a deranged twenty-two-year-old, opened fire at a constituent meet-and-greet hosted in front of a Safeway supermarket by his congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. In just minutes, the gunman sprayed thirty-three rounds, killing six people and wounding thirteen others, including Giffords, who suffered severe brain damage from a point-blank shot that passed through her head. Among the dead were a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl who served on her elementary school student council and wanted to shake hands with the vivacious politician. Loughner used a special oversized magazine, making it possible for him to do much more damage in a matter of minutes than he otherwise might have. He did not stop firing until he had to pause to reload and attendees at the event tackled him.
    Since the expiration in 2004 of the ten-round ammunition cap, Glock has led the charge back into the large-capacity magazine business. Sportsman’s Warehouse, the Tucson store where Loughner bought his Glock, advertises on its website that “compact and subcompact Glock pistol model magazines can be loaded with a convincing number of rounds—i.e.… up to 33 rounds.”
    The scale of the bloodshed in Tucson, like that at Virginia Tech and Luby’s, presents the strongest possible evidence that a restriction on magazine size makes sense. Such a limit would not stop a Loughner or Cho from attacking, but it could reduce the number of victims. Only six states—California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York—have their own limits on large magazines. A national ten-round cap seems like a logical compromise that lawful gun owners could easily tolerate. The NRA has concluded otherwise—and pushed the issue off the legislative table.
  • Today the NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through the Round-Up Program, created by top NRA benefactor Larry Potterfield. Potterfield is founder and head of MidwayUSA, which claims to stock “[j]ust about everything for shooting, reloading, gunsmithing and hunting,” including ammunition and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The Round-Up Program encourages buyers to “round-up” their purchase to the nearest dollar with the difference going to the NRA.
  • There was a law called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban [signed in 1994], but the law was written with an expiry date and Congress let it expire in 2004. That law banned possession of certain types of assault weapons, including the weapon James Holmes used in Aurora last week. The law banned possession of large-capacity bullet clips, so people could only purchase guns that could hold 10 bullets. But since the law expired in 2004, Holmes was able to use a weapon that held 100 bullets at a time. It’s like something out of a science fiction novel, frankly.
  • The feverish demand for military-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines is outstripping supply, ahead of legislative efforts to ban them in the wake of mass shootings....
    Online retailers are running out of semiautomatic rifles -- known variously as assault weapons, tactical rifles or modern sporting rifles -- and magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.
    Brick-and-mortar gun shops are also working furiously to meet demand.


  • The most important feature of the previous ban was the prohibition on large-capacity ammunition magazines. A large magazine is arguably the most critical feature of an assault weapon, and restrictions on magazines have the potential to affect many more gun crimes than do those on military-style weapons. Restrictions focused on magazine capacity may also have a greater chance of gaining sufficient public and political support for passage than would new restrictions on assault weapons, though current polling suggests that both measures are supported by three-quarters of non-gun owners and nearly half of gun owners.


  • And some gun retailers are already stepping up by refusing to finalize a purchase without a complete background check, or by refraining from selling semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines. And I hope that more retailers and more manufacturers join them — because they should care as much as anybody about a product that now kills almost as many Americans as car accidents.


  • For full disclosure, I own 12 guns and have always been an avid wapiti hunter. But I have also experienced the Columbine School and Aurora Theater shootings and I do not own an AR-15.

    An astounding fact is that gun homicide rates in the United States are 25 times higher than any other high-income country in the world. The objective of this Committee on Trauma survey was to identify areas of consensus to develop action plans.

    Although laudable, this process carries a risk of merely supporting the bandwagons already in motion. In that light, I would like to focus on the conspicuous area of disagreement, specifically, civilian access to assault rifles. These weapons are designed to permit the shooter to deliver sequentially, as fast as the trigger can be pulled, life-threatening moderate energy missiles, resulting in multiple deaths at short distance over a short time period.

    The debate is not about ammunition. These same bullets are used for small game hunting, but at a longer distance. The fundamental issue is the magazine capacity of rifles, housing 30 or more bullets, enabling rapid shooting. Mass shootings, defined as greater than or equal to five victims, are currently an epidemic in our country, reported as literally occurring every week. The volatile issue in controlling gun violence is eliminating assault rifles to reduce mass shootings and fundamentally distills into the interpretation of the Second Amendment "to keep and bear Arms." I do not believe a randomized, prospective trial is necessary to establish the fact that mass shootings are only feasible because irresponsible individuals have access to these weapons, designed by the military to accomplish this mission.


  • A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than—and imparting more than three times the energy of—a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun...The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat traveling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange...If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun-shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to the trauma center to receive our care...
    As a radiologist, I have now seen high-velocity AR-15 gunshot wounds firsthand, an experience that most radiologists in our country will never have. I pray that these are the last such wounds I have to see, and that AR-15-style weapons and high-capacity magazines are banned for use by civilians in the United States, once and for all.
  • The distinctive “look” of assault weapons is not cosmetic. It is the visual result of specific functional design decisions. Military assault weapons were designed and developed for a specific military purpose — laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone, also known as “hosing down” an area. The most significant assault weapon functional design features are:
    (1) ability to accept a high-capacity ammunition magazine,
    (2) a rear pistol or thumb-hole grip, and,
    (3) a forward grip or barrel shroud.
    Taken together, these are the design features that make possible the deadly and indiscriminate “spray-firing” for which assault weapons are designed. None of them are features of true hunting or sporting guns. Civilian semiautomatic assault weapons incorporate all of the functional design features that make assault weapons so deadly. They are arguably more deadly than military versions, because most experts agree that semiautomatic fire is more accurate than automatic fire. Although the gun lobby today argues that there is no such thing as civilian assault weapons, the industry, the National Rifle Association, and gun magazines enthusiastically described these civilian versions as “assault rifles,” “assault pistols,” and “military assault” weapons to boost civilian sales throughout the 1980s. The industry and its allies only began to use the semantic argument that a “true” assault weapon is a machine gun after civilian assault weapons turned up in large numbers in the hands of drug traffickers, criminal gangs, mass murderers, and other dangerous criminals.
  • Results suggest assault weapons (primarily assault-type rifles) account for 2–12% of guns used in crime in general (most estimates suggest less than 7%) and 13–16% of guns used in murders of police. Assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics together generally account for 22 to 36% of crime guns, with some estimates upwards of 40% for cases involving serious violence including murders of police. Assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics appear to be used in a higher share of firearm mass murders (up to 57% in total), though data on this issue are very limited. Trend analyses also indicate that high-capacity semiautomatics have grown from 33 to 112% as a share of crime guns since the expiration of the federal ban—a trend that has coincided with recent growth in shootings nationwide....
    AW [assault weapon] laws also commonly include restrictions on large-capacity magazines (LCMs), which are typically defined as ammunition feeding devices holding more than ten rounds of ammunition (some laws have higher limits). LCM restrictions are arguably the most important components of AW laws in that they also apply to the larger class of high-capacity semiautomatic firearms without military-style features. In the broadest sense, AW-LCM laws are thus intended to reduce gunshot victimizations by limiting the stock of semiautomatic firearms with large ammunition capacities and other features conducive to criminal use....
    Importantly, trend analyses suggest that LCM firearms have grown substantially as a share of crime guns since the expiration of the federal ban on AWs and LCMs.


  • Mass-shooting related homicides in the United States were reduced during the years of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994 to 2004....
    Recently, 75% of members of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma endorsed restrictions to “civilian access to assault rifles (magazine fed, semiautomatic, i.e., AR-15),” and 76% of the Board of Governors were in favor of a limit to “… civilian access to ammunition designed for military or law enforcement use (that is, armor piercing, large magazine capacity).” In 2015, the American College of Surgeons joined seven of the largest most prestigious professional health organizations in the United States and the American Bar Association to call for “restricting the manufacture and sale of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines for civilian use.” This analysis adds evidence to support these recommendations....
    Our results add to the documentation that mass shooting–related homicides are indeed increasing, most rapidly in the postban period, and that these incidents are frequently associated with weapons characterized as assault rifles by the language of the 1994 AWB.
    ...taken in the context of the increase in mass shootings in the United States, these results support the conclusion that the federal AWB of 1994 to 2004 was effective in reducing mass shooting–related homicides in the United States, and we believe our results support a re-institution of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban as a way to prevent and control mass shooting fatalities in the United States.

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