Several Democratic members of Congress have proposed firearm legislation that would ban the sale, transfer, possession, manufacture, or importation of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.
Several states including New York and California have previously imposed bans on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Magazines that held more than 10 rounds were banned under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which expired in 2004.
On April 14, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) as well as Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) introduced the measure (pdf), known as the “Keep Americans Safe Act.”
The Department of Justice has previously said that the 1994 federal ban on so-called high-capacity magazines didn’t lead to a significant drop in shootings and murders. That study has been often cited by gun-rights groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America for why such legislation would be ineffective.
“We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence,” the DOJ stated in 2004. “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
But Menendez said the bill is designed to end mass shootings, such as last month’s incidents in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta.
“High-capacity magazines are good for one thing and one thing only—high-capacity killing,” Menendez said in an April 14 statement. “The Keep Americans Safe Act is a common-sense piece of legislation that will save lives and will finally limit the sale of large-capacity magazines that are designed for killing as many people as possible without having to stop and reload.”
With the 60-vote filibuster in place, it’s unlikely that Menedez’s bill—in its current form—would be approved by the Senate. Republicans have signaled opposition to President Joe Biden’s recent executive actions against “ghost guns,” “red flag” law proposals, and re-classifying pistols with stabilizing braces as rifles—as well as his nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Menendez’s bill also would modify “the high-capacity definition to prevent coupled or joined magazines,” create a buyback program for magazines holding more than 10 rounds, “requires devices manufactured after enactment to have conspicuous serial numbers and date of manufacture to help law enforcement identify restricted magazines,” and would allow the ATF and FBI to destroy magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Gun Owners of America, in a statement, said that the new proposal suggests that its Democratic sponsors have an “ignorance about modern firearm technology and the Bill of Rights.”
“Most modern home defense rifles and carry handguns come standard with magazines that hold more than the arbitrary limit of ten rounds,” the group stated. “The idea that magazines that hold 100, 50, or 30 rounds are neither for sport nor self-defense is a farce. Gun owners commonly equip their self-defense firearms with so-called ‘high capacity magazines’ and shoot them for sport all the time.
“Senator Menendez’s standard capacity magazine ban is obsolete, and Gun Owners of America will make sure it never becomes law.”
The reason why, the group says, is because gun owners can manufacture their own 17-round or 30-round Glock magazines via a 3-D printer.