Press Release

September 11, 2019
Cardin, 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 – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and more than two dozen colleagues have called 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.

“The safety of our children and communities should never be put at risk by partisan gridlock. Congress needs to act,” said Sen. Cardin. “Legitimate hunters and sportsmen do not need the high-capacity, high-killing power that is available today. We know that we won’t be able to stop every tragedy, but we absolutely can save lives.”

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 together in this effort are Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), 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.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), 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.).

“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. “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.”

“High-capacity magazines that hold 30, 50 or even 100 bullets may be appropriate for warzones, but they have no place in our neighborhoods,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m proud to support legislation to ban high-capacity magazines, a prohibition that’s also in my Assault Weapons Ban. Preventing the manufacture of more of these magazines will begin to dry up their supply, a key step in getting them off our streets. This is a commonsense bill and I strongly support it.”

“It’s clear that we can and should be doing more to stop the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our communities. This common-sense measure to ban high-capacity magazines will save lives. I urge the Republican majority to move forward on this and the many other proposals we’ve put forward immediately – their continued inaction is complicity,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

“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.”

“Too many Americans have lost loved ones to gun violence. The majority of Americans — including a majority of gun owners — support sensible gun legislation to address this epidemic, yet Republicans in Congress bought and paid for by the gun industry and the NRA continue to block commonsense proposals to protect our communities,” said Sen. Warren. “We need to treat gun violence in this country like the crisis it is and that begins with steps like banning the kind of high-capacity magazines that have proven so deadly.”

“America’s epidemic of mass shootings must be addressed. I’m proud to sponsor legislation with my colleagues that will outlaw high capacity magazines that fire dozens of rounds in a matter of seconds,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “My hometown of Las Vegas was the site of the worst mass shooting in American history, and I will keep fighting for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that saves lives and keeps our citizens and law enforcement safer.”

“High-capacity magazines have been used time and time again in mass shootings, and Congress has a moral imperative to act on legislation to prevent the senseless deaths of hundreds of Americans,” said Sen. Markey. “I join my Democratic colleagues in urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take sensible steps to end gun violence. Senator McConnell is failing to protect the American people by blocking a vote on this legislation and other proposals supported by the vast majority of Americans.”

“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.

“I’ve been traveling in Minnesota recently, and even in Greater Minnesota, people have come up to me and said we ought to be able to take a number of commonsense measures to address gun violence. These are Americans who understand that the inaction—tragedy after tragedy—has got to stop,” said Sen. Smith. “One of the things we can do right now is to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines designed to kill a lot of people at once. Let’s remember: we’ve taken action before. Ronald Reagan supported an assaults weapon ban and that was the law of the land for 20 years. Now it’s time for action from you, Mitch McConnell, to ban large-capacity magazines. Bring the Keep Americans Safe Act to the floor for a vote.”

“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.

“The vast majority of Americans want Congress to take common-sense measures to end the mass murders of innocent people,” said Sen. Sanders. “That means ending the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines—as well as banning military-style assault weapons, expanding background checks, and closing gun show loopholes. We know that gun violence has reached epidemic levels in the United States. We know that every day that we fail to act is another day that we place our schools, neighborhoods and communities at great risk. It is long, long past time for Congress to put the lives of children and innocent Americans over the interests of the NRA. The Senate Majority Leader must stop blocking us from ending this crisis.”

“Every day there are more shootings and more tragic losses. And every day we hear expressions of sympathy, but we have yet to see votes or action,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “Passing this bill will help save lives by preventing the sale of high-capacity magazines—we cannot wait another day to act.”

 “It is far past time for Congress to act on commonsense gun violence prevention solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of individuals who shouldn’t have them and keep weapons of war out of our communities. I’m supporting a ban on high-capacity magazines because we need to take immediate action to prevent dangerous firepower from getting into the wrong hands,” said Sen. Rosen.

“The Keep Americans Safe Act is a common sense gun safety measure that we should consider right now to protect our communities,” said Sen. Carper. “The overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners, want us to use common sense and pass gun safety measures like this one. Leader McConnell and Republicans should listen.”

“High-capacity ammunition magazines aren’t necessary for hunting or self-defense, and all too often they are used to commit mass murder. Enough is enough.  It’s time for Republicans in the Senate to pass this common sense bill to place reasonable limits on magazine capacity,” Sen. Durbin said.  

“The experts say restricting magazine size can help limit the slaughter that’s become all too routine in this country,” said Sen. 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 is no reason any law-abiding gun owner would need a high-capacity magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The Majority Leader should immediately bring this bill to the Senate floor and make it law. Where a majority of Americans favor action on such a crucial life and death issue, and industry lobbying group like the NRA should not be able to block it,” Sen. Hirono said.

“While the House is one step closer to passing common-sense gun control legislation and banning high-capacity magazines, the Senate has shamefully done nothing to address our nation’s gun violence crisis. Our country has mourned massacre after massacre, and it is clear that America’s gun violence problem isn’t going away until Congress finally musters up the courage to address it head-on,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “Any inaction on gun violence is a disgrace. High-capacity magazines are designed for war – not for our schools or cities – and I am calling on Senator McConnell and Republican leadership to hold a vote on the Keep Americans Safe Act today.”

“Mass shootings are all too common in America and Congress has a moral obligation to act and put an end to this epidemic,” said Sen. Booker. “High-capacity magazines are made for no other purpose than to kill people quickly and we must ban them once and for all. This is a commonsense solution that will protect our communities from deadly mass shootings.”

“Keeping high-capacity weapons off our streets is overwhelmingly supported by the American people, regardless of political party, and it is past time that Congress take this common-sense step to help save lives,” said Sen. Hassan.

“We saw it in Dayton, Parkland, Las Vegas, Virginia Beach, and countless others: High-capacity magazines make it easier to kill en masse. If there’s something we can do to hamper a shooter’s ability to fire dozens of bullets within seconds, we need to do it. The House has passed this legislation – now the Senate must act,” Sen. Kaine said.

“Every American has a right to feel safe when they’re at school, work, or attending a public gathering,” said Sen. Merkley. “But today, as mass shootings continue to terrorize Americans, that right is being denied to families in every one of our communities. It’s time for Congress to put protecting Americans’ safety above the NRA’s wish list by making sure high-capacity magazines don’t end up in the hands of another mass shooter planning to commit heinous crimes.”

“Passing public safety measures to save lives isn’t tyranny, it’s common sense,” said Sen. Duckworth. “This is a sensible piece of legislation to limit high-capacity magazines and Senator McConnell should take it up immediately. Enough is enough; Republicans need to let us vote on bills to help prevent mass shootings from continuing to devastate our communities.”

“El Paso, Dayton, Las Vegas, Newtown, Parkland, and too many other communities have been terrorized by gun violence. We can and must to do more to protect our families, our children, and communities. Part of the solution is to ban high capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. These killing devices are for military use, and should not be on our streets. I urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop standing in the way of action and bring up the Keep Americans Safe Act, along with other House passed gun safety bills that Senate Republicans are blocking. American lives are at stake. We must stand up and take action now,” said Sen. Udall.

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.