September 11, 2019

Harris, Senate Dems Call on Majority Leader McConnell to Act after House Judiciary Passes Gun Safety Bill to Ban High-Capacity 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, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and 28 of their 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.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis and a national epidemic, and Congress must summon the courage to take on the gun lobby and pass meaningful legislation that saves lives,” said Sen. Harris. “I applaud the House Judiciary Committee for passing the Keep Americans Safe Act. This is a critical step toward banning high-capacity magazines that are designed to make guns more deadly. It’s time for Senate Republicans to listen to the American people and take action.”

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 Senators Harris, Menendez, and Schumer are Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), 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), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), 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 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 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 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.