Noting that it was one year ago this week that 17 students and faculty members died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) have introduced legislation that would ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.
These high-capacity magazines are designed for shooting en masse and have been used in some of the country’s deadliest mass shootings, the senators noted.
“Commonsense gun reform can prevent families’ worst nightmares from becoming reality,” Kaine said. “In this new Congress, I hope my colleagues join me in taking action to ensure high-capacity magazines do not enter our schools, offices, places of worship, and concert halls.”
The Keep Americans Safe Act includes the following provisions:
- Provides limited exceptions for devices possessed before enactment, for certain current and former law enforcement personnel, for certain Atomic Energy personnel and purpose, for tubular devices that can only accept .22 rimfire ammunition, and for certain authorized testing or experimentation;
- Modifies the high-capacity definition to prevent coupled or joined magazines;
- Authorizes buyback programs for high-capacity magazines using Byrne JAG grants;
- Requires devices manufactured after enactment to have conspicuous serial numbers and date of manufacture to help law enforcement identify restricted magazines;
- Harmonizes forfeiture provisions for magazines with current law; currently FBI and ATF can seize and destroy certain firearms but not high capacity magazines.
The legislation is also supported by Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence; March for Our Lives; Team ENOUGH; Change The Ref; Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; Center for American Progress; Violence Policy Center and Everytown.
“We need the full support of every member of Congress if we are to keep our communities safe and end the nation’s epidemic of gun violence,” said Charlie Mirsky, Political Director at March For Our Lives. “Ending gun violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we applaud Republicans and Democrats for working together to stop gun deaths in America.”
“No one deserves to be in the position where we are. Everyone should be part of this change we are demanding. We are not asking, we are not begging, we demand change,” said Manuel Oliver, survivor parent of Joaquin Oliver, a fatal victim at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “This is not a blue or red issue. A shooter won’t ask your political affiliation before killing you. We need to pass this legislation now.”
“Large capacity magazines transform guns from dangerous weapons into weapons capable of mass murder. That’s why large capacity magazines are a common thread in so many high-profile mass shootings,” said David Chipman, Senior Policy Advisor at Giffords and a retired ATF Special Agent of 25 years. “If our country is serious about addressing our devastating gun violence crisis, we must start by having a serious conversation about the type of weapons we’re making available on our streets. We’re proud Senator Menendez and Congressman Deutch are working to address this threat today.”
“Assault-style weapons often get the attention after mass shootings, but it’s just as important to address the role of large capacity magazines. Mass shootings from Orlando to Las Vegas to Aurora and beyond have been all the more devastating because of them. They serve no purpose other than to allow someone to fire as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible, making it easier to take innocent lives,” said Kris Brown, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We are grateful to Sen. Menendez and Rep. Deutch for their leadership in introducing this important legislation that bans these deadly accessories, and we look forward to working with them to pass it into law.”
Gun deaths tabulated
In 2017, almost 38,000 Americans lost their lives due to gun violence. High-capacity magazines have been used in some of the country’s deadliest mass shootings:
- In Pittsburgh, Penn., on Oct. 27, 2018, a shooter killed eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life Congregation during Shabbat morning services — the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States — using an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle for his attack.
- In Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others. Witnesses identified nineteen-year-old former student.
- In Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2017, a shooter killed 26 and injured 20 other worshipers who were attending regular Sunday church services. The attack, with an AR-15, was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas and the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in the United States.
- In Las Vegas, Nev., on Oct. 1, 2017, a shooter opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, firing more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 people and leaving 851 injured – over 400 of them by gunfire and hundreds more in the ensuing panic. This is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States history.
- In Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, a shooter fired bullets from a 30-round assault rifle and a 17-round semi-automatic pistol into a crowded Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 and injuring more than 50 others in what was then the worst mass shooting in American history.
- In San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2015, armed with assault rifles and other weapons, two shooters stormed a social services center where one had worked, fatally shooting 14 people and injuring at least 17 others.
- In Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, a shooter used 30-round magazines to take the lives of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When the shooter reloaded his gun, eleven students managed to escape.
- In Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012, a shooter used a 100-round drum magazine and a 40-round magazine ito kill 12 people and wound another 58. His 100-round magazine jammed during the shooting, preventing even more casualties.
- In Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011, a shooter used two, 31-round magazines and two, 15-round magazines in the shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 more. The gunman was tackled to the ground while changing magazines and is one of many shootings – including the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting and the 1998 Thurston High School shooting – that ended when the shooter attempted to reload his gun.
- In Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009, a shooter used 30- and 20-round magazines in the shooting that killed 13 people and wounded 34 more. The gun-shop owner who sold the extended magazines quotes the would-be shooter as saying he didn’t like spending time loading magazines.
- In Blacksburg, Virginia, on Apr. 16, 2007, an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech shot 49 people on campus with two semi-automatic pistols, killing 32 and wounding 17. Several other victims were injured jumping from windows to escape the gunfire.
- In Columbine, Colo., on Apr. 20, 1999, a pair of students murdered 12 classmates and one teacher. Ten students were murdered in the library, where the shooters subsequently committed suicide. At the time, it was the deadliest shooting at a high school in United States history.
- In Killeen, Texas, on Oct. 16, 1991, a gunman drove his pickup truck through the front window of the Luby’s Cafeteria and then proceeded to shoot and kill 23 people, wounding 27 others.
- In San Diego, Calif., on July 18, 1984, a shooter killed 21 people and injured 19 others in and around a McDonald’s restaurant in the San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego before being fatally shot by a SWAT team.
The Keep Americans Safe Act is also cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA) Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
Full text of the bill can be downloaded here.