[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) joined U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and 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 on Tuesday.
“No single measure will prevent every gun death, but we know that a ban on high-capacity magazines will make mass shootings less deadly. In Newtown, Connecticut, eleven students managed to escape when the shooter reloaded his gun. In Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown, Aurora, and Tucson – how many lives could have been saved if the gunman had needed to change magazines more often? The Senate must act – on this legislation and on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, universal background checks, safe storage laws, and a repeal of gun manufacturers’ sweetheart immunity deal,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
“Large capacity magazines are designed to do as much damage as quickly as possible. That’s why they’re the magazine of choice in so many mass shootings. How many more lives do we have to lose before Congress decides to act on commonsense gun violence prevention legislation? I applaud the House Judiciary Committee for passing the Keep Americans Safe Act, legislation that would prohibit these magazines that allow shooters to fire off dozens of rounds in seconds. The House has taken steps this year to reduce the amount of unnecessary deaths in this country. But it’s now up to Mitch McConnell—and President Trump—to let us do the same,” said Sen. Murphy.
“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 Sen. Menendez, the bill’s author. “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.”
“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.”
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 of the nation’s most high-profile 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.
In Dayton, Ohio, the mass shooter used a high-capacity rifle equipped with a 100-round drum magazine, which enabled him to fire 41 rounds in 32 seconds. In El Paso, Texas, and Gilroy, California, both shooters are believed to have used an AK-47 style assault rifle, another high-capacity rifle, which generally holds at least 30 rounds.
Experts have recently expressed restrictions on the capacity of bullet magazines could make the attacks less deadly, giving potential targets precious seconds to escape while the shooter reloads a gun.
Joining Sens. Menendez and Schumer in cosponsoring the Keep Americans Safe Act are Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Angus King (I-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Earlier this week, Senate and House Democrats called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end his harmful legislative graveyard and 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.
Full text of the bill can be downloaded here.