September 11, 2019

Reed, Whitehouse Call for Senate Action to Ban High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines

The Keep Americans Safe Act would prohibit the transfer, importation, or possession of magazines able to hold more than ten rounds of ammunition

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today were joined by two dozen colleagues in calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to act on their Keep Americans Safe Act (S.447), which would prohibit the transfer, importation, or possession of magazines able to hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Companion legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee last night.

High-capacity magazines have been used in many of the nation’s most high-profile mass shootings, including last month in Dayton, Ohio, where the mass shooter used a high-capacity rifle equipped with a 100-round drum magazine to enable him to fire 41 rounds in 30 seconds, killing nine and injuring 27 others.  

Since the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act expired in 2004, there is no current federal law banning high-capacity magazines.

“I hope my Republican colleagues will listen to law enforcement and parents who, in record levels, are calling for action to reduce gun violence and prevent mass-shootings.  Most Americans want commonsense gun safety solutions, and reinstating the high-capacity magazine ban is one step to help make neighborhoods and communities nationwide safer,” said Senator Reed.  

“The experts say restricting magazine size can help limit the slaughter that’s become all too routine in this country,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Americans’ safety shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  It’s time for President Trump and Senate Republicans to buck the NRA and let this commonsense bill come up for a vote.”

There have been 289 mass shootings so far this year according to the Gun Violence Archive, not counting the thousands of other acts of gun violence that have devastated communities across the country.  A common thread found in many mass shootings in recent years has been the use of high-capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds and enable a shooter to fire dozens of rounds without having to stop and reload.

“It’s shameful that despite continued calls from the American people for meaningful action to address the scourge of gun violence that is devastating our communities, Leader McConnell and Republicans have chosen to do the gun lobby’s bidding,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “Enough is enough—we must take action on the Keep Americans Safe Act, which would work conjointly with much-needed universal background check legislation to make America safer and more secure.  Leader McConnell must answer the calls of the American people and bring this legislation to the floor for a vote.”

“The American people are sick and tired of seeing communities torn apart by avoidable gun violence tragedies.  And they’re sick and tired of inaction by Washington politicians who don’t seem to have the guts to stand up to the NRA,” said Senator Menendez.  “Let’s listen to the American people and show them we can do something.  The Senate Majority Leader can and must bring the Keep Americans Safe Act to the floor for a vote next week.” 

Joining Menendez, Reed, Whitehouse, and Schumer in cosponsoring the Keep Americans Safe Act are Senators: Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Earlier this week, Senate and House Democrats called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act, H.R.8, to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, the Keep Americans Safe bill 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 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.

The legislation is 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 for Gun Safety.





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