U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) today unveiled their Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, a common-sense bill which bans the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting en masse. They were joined at a press conference in Washington, D.C. by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (both D-CT), U.S. House Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Ted Deutch (D-FL), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and advocates from the Newtown Action Alliance.
“There is no place in our communities for ammunition magazines designed for military-style shootouts, which have been used inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Aurora, in Fort Hood, and in Tucson – and it is well-past time for Congress to listen to the American people and put this high-capacity magazine ban back in place,” said Sen. Menendez.
He continued: “The only thing more senseless than the gun violence that has taken too many of our nation’s children and countless innocent Americans is the failure of Congress to pass common sense gun safety measures, like this one, that are supported by 90 percent of the American public.”
“The Newtown Action Alliance applauds Senator Menendez and Representative Esty’s efforts to reduce gun violence. High-capacity magazines, which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition, have significantly increased a shooter’s ability to kill large numbers of people quickly. In Newtown, we know firsthand the devastating damage that is wrought when high capacity-magazines are paired with semi-automatic assault weapons. The Sandy Hook shooter used a 30-round high-capacity magazine to fire 154 shots in less than five minutes, killing 20 innocent children and six educators. The lives of 11 children were spared when the shooter changed his magazine on that tragic day. Too many innocent Americans have died in too many incidents involving high-capacity magazines, and it is time for Congress to take meaningful action to protect our children and families from gun violence,” said Dave Stowe, Vice Chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance.“During the dark day of December 14, 2012, eleven innocent children escaped the ravages of gun shots at Sandy Hook Elementary School because shooter Adam Lanza had to pause to reload his gun. Large capacity magazines that allow people to shoot up to 100 rounds of ammunition have no place in our schools, our movie theaters, our parks, or our streets. It’s time for Congress to listen to the voices of over 90% of Americans who support commonsense gun safety reforms and reinstate reasonable restrictions on large capacity magazines,” said Rep. Esty.
“Plain and simple: this bill would save lives by depriving mass murderers of a key means of massacre,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “Mass shooters know that high-capacity magazines allow them to take more lives, more rapidly. That is why Adam Lanza left his regular-sized magazines behind and relied on high-capacity magazines when he entered Sandy Hook Elementary School. And that is also why high-capacity magazines have been used in half of all mass shootings over the past 30 years. Children escaped the slaughter when Adam Lanza changed magazines. More magazine changes might have helped save more lives. Even if we cannot stop all killers, we can make them less lethal.”
“High-capacity magazines make weapons more lethal by enabling shooters to fire hundreds of rounds of shots without pause,” said Sen. Murphy. “Killers like Adam Lanza intentionally use these military-style weapons to take more lives in less time. Taking high-capacity magazines out of the equation could force shooters to change magazines more often and save countless lives in episodes of mass violence. The vast majority of Americans support this common-sense measure—it’s time that Members of Congress remember who they represent here, and pass this bill.”
“This bill will help save lives, and I hope the House and Senate will have an opportunity to vote on it soon,” said House Democratic Whip Hoyer. “Tragedies in Newtown, Tucson, Aurora, and elsewhere shocked the conscience of our nation, and it is unacceptable that Congress has failed to act. The ease with which the perpetrators were able to kill and maim so many innocents must be addressed, as this legislation would do. I thank Rep. Esty and Sen. Menendez for their leadership on this important issue.”
“We must put an end to the violence, anguish, and loss that too many families and too many communities know,” said Rep. DeGette. “We may never be able to completely stop disturbed individuals from going into a school or a movie theater or a shopping mall and shooting people, but we can slow them down and give the people in their sights a fighting chance. That’s why it is so important to me to introduce this bill banning the high-capacity magazines that were used in Newtown, used by the shooter in Aurora, and used in far too many massacres in this nation.”
“That the last Congress failed to pass even the most basic gun safety legislation, like the ban on high capacity ammunition magazines that we are reintroducing today, is shameful,” said Rep. Deutch. “The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act of 2015 meets the test established by the Supreme Court in DC v. Heller, in which even Justice Scalia acknowledged that regulations on dangerous weapons pose no threat to the Second Amendment. I am honored to stand with the Newtown Action Alliance, and Representatives Esty and DeGette, to introduce this bill. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I will push hard to hold hearings this Congress on sensible gun violence reforms that the American people overwhelmingly support and that will ultimately save lives.”
The full text of the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act can be downloaded here. In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, the Act includes the below 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;
- Includes important updates, previously added by late-Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, including modification of the high capacity definition to prevent coupled or joined magazines and other provisions discussed elsewhere;
- Authorizes a 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.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that in mass shootings from January 2009 to January 2013, 123 percent more people were shot and 54 percent more people were killed when assault weapons or large capacity magazines were used.
High-capacity magazines have also been used in some of the country’s most horrific mass shootings:
- In Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza used 30-round magazines in the mass shooting that took the lives of 20 students and six adults. When Adam Lanza was reloading his gun, eleven students managed to escape.
- In Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes used a 100-round drum magazine and a 40-round magazine in the shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded. His 100-round magazine jammed during the shooting, preventing even more casualties.
- In Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011, Jared Loughner used two 31-round magazines and two 15-round magazines in the shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 more. Loughner 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 gunman attempted to reload his gun.
- In Fort Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan 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 Hasan as saying he didn’t like spending time loading magazines.
Menendez has a long history of support for common sense gun safety measures. He cosponsored Sen. Lautenberg’s large capacity magazine ban in the 113th and 112thCongresses. He also cosponsored this bill as an amendment during the Senate’s gun debate last Congress.
Last Congress, Menendez supported S. 649, Senator Reid’s gun safety bill which would have required background checks for all firearm sales, prohibited straw purchasing of firearms, expanded school safety grants, and created a National Center for Campus Public Safety. He cosponsored the Assault Weapons Ban, which would have banned the importation, possession, sale, or transfer of any “semiautomatic assault weapon.”
The senator was an original cosponsor of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2013 which would have given the Attorney General the authority to deny the issuance of firearms or explosives to known or suspected terrorists and an original cosponsor of the Gun Show Background Check Act of 2013, which would have established background check procedures for gun shows.