WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined 26 of their Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Keep Americans Safe Act, renewing efforts to ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. High capacity ammunition magazines allow shooters to fire a large number of bullets without stopping to reload. As a result, from 2009-2020, mass shootings where the shooter used high-capacity magazines led to five-times as many people being shot per mass shooting than incidents that did not involve high-capacity magazines.
The bill was introduced on February 7th, the last day of the annual Gun Violence Survivors Week, and ahead of the anniversary of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida – one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Sen. Menendez first introduced the Keep Americans Safe Act in the 115th Congress in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, and has worked diligently to build support for the legislation.
Joining Senators Cardin and Van Hollen in cosponsoring the Keep Americans Safe Act in the Senate are Sens. Bob Menedez (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Angus King (I-Maine), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, this 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 other purposes, 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 program for high-capacity magazines using Byrne JAG grants;
- Requires devices manufactured after enactment to have conspicuous serial numbers and date of manufacturing to help law enforcement identify restricted magazines;
- Harmonizes forfeiture provisions for magazines with current law (currently the FBI and ATF can seize and destroy certain firearms but not high-capacity magazines).
The full text of the bill can be found HERE.
The Keep Americans Safe Act is supported by leading gun violence prevention advocacy groups including Brady; Giffords; Everytown; March for Our Lives; Newtown Action Alliance; Sandy Hook Promise; Center for American Progress; Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety; and Change The Ref.
“High-capacity magazines were designed for one purpose and one purpose only – high capacity killing – and have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in America,” said Sen. Menendez, author of the Keep Americans Safe Act. “This is a commonsense bill that will provide greater peace of mind to communities and families across the country that have felt the despair of losing a loved one, friend, or neighbor in a mass shooting with guns equipped with high-capacity magazines. We cannot afford to sit idly by as the gun violence epidemic continues to ravage communities and devastate families. We have a responsibility to take actions that will save lives, and I urge my colleagues to join me in advancing this commonsense legislation in the Senate.”
“Large-capacity magazines (LCMs) are designed to maximize lethality and are truly the most common denominator in these mass shootings, which are routine in no other industrialized country besides this one. Simply put, they serve no purpose in civilian hands. By limiting the size of magazines, we will limit the lethality of mass shootings, reduce gun violence, and prevent future tragedies,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady.
“High-capacity magazines have been used in devastating mass shooting atrocities across the nation, including when my neighbor used an AR15 and high-capacity magazines to murder 26 children and educators in Sandy Hook Elementary School over 10 years ago. Children from Sandy Hook escaped and saved their own lives when the gunman was reloading. Limiting the number of ammunition in the magazines will significantly reduce the number of fatalities in mass shootings. We urge Congress to swiftly pass Senator Menendez’ bill and send it to President Biden’s desk to stop arming mass shooters with weapons of war,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance.
“The man who murdered my son used a semiautomatic weapon with high-capacity magazines. He fired 154 bullets in less than five minutes. Had there been proper limits on such weapons, my sweet little Daniel — and countless other victims of mass shootings — might be alive today. I urge the Senate to take action on high-capacity magazine limits now and prevent future tragedies,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise, and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“In exactly one week, it will be 5 years since my daughter was murdered in the Parkland school shooting. For me, the need to address gun violence is not a political decision. I do so because I visit my forever 14-year-old daughter at the cemetery. We have seen far too often, how large capacity magazines have simply resulted in more dead Americans and more broken families like mine. Thank you Senator Menendez for this important and necessary legislation that will save lives,” said Fred Gutenberg, founder of Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety, and father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
“We’ve got to be clear that the gun violence epidemic is entirely avoidable, and it’s avoidable if we choose to take up legislation like the Keep Americans Safe Act,” said Elena Perez, Senior Policy Associate at March For Our Lives. “There is no circumstance where a civilian needs a firearm that can kill dozens of people within minutes, before anyone can respond to it. Limiting high-capacity magazines is sensible and common sense policy. We’re glad to stand beside Senator Menendez and our legislative partners as it’s introduced once again.”
“Countless moms, dads, sons and daughters have been lost because a shooter chose a large-capacity magazine to kill as many people as possible without having to pause and reload. They do this because they know the time required to reload a weapon can allow victims to escape and law enforcement to intervene. Banning these devices will help improve public safety, and we thank Senator Menendez for his leadership introducing the Keep Americans Safe Act to do just that,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Giffords Federal Affairs Director.
“Responsible gun owners on both sides of the political aisle will tell you that high-capacity magazines have no place on our store shelves or in our communities. They are not useful for sport, hunting or for self-defense, but are commonly found at the crime scenes of mass shootings. The Keep Americans Safe Act is a thoughtful and evidence-based approach to reducing the number of casualties of gun violence,” said Nick Wilson, Senior Director of Gun Violence Prevention at Center for American Progress.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, last year there were 648 mass shootings and more than 44,300 gun-related deaths in the United States. This year alone, there has already been 60 mass shootings with nearly 4,300 gun-related deaths, which represents a staggering rate of 116 lives lost to guns every day since the beginning of 2023.
Some of the country’s deadliest mass shootings have involved the use of high-capacity magazines, including:
- In Monterey Park, California, on January 21, 2023, a gunman killed eleven people and injured nine others at an all-day Lunar New Year Festival. The perpetrator used two semi-automatic pistols and an extended high-capacity magazine.
- In Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 19, 2022, a shooter with an AR-15 style rifle, a handgun, and high-capacity magazines killed five people and 25 more were injured, 19 of them by gunfire, at Club Q – an LGBTQ nightclub.
- In St. Louis, Missouri, on October 24, 2022, a gunman, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and 600 rounds of ammo, killed a student and a teacher and injured another seven individuals at the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.
- In Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022, a gunman killed seven people and wounded another 46 using a Smith & Wesson M&P15 assault rifle and three 30-round magazines.
- In Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, a shooter killed 22 elementary school students and teachers and wounded 17 others at Robb Elementary School using seven 30-round magazines.
- In Buffalo, New York, on May 14, 2022, a gunman targeted a predominantly Black community where he killed 10 and injured three more at Tops Supermarket using a homemade semiautomatic “ghost gun” rifle and an illegal 30-round magazine.
- In Oxford, Michigan, on November 30, 2021, a shooter, armed with a Sig Sauer SP 2022 9mm semiautomatic pistol and two 15-round magazines killed four and wounded another seven at Oxford High School.
- In Boulder, Colorado, on March 22, 2021, a shooter armed with a Ruger AR-556 Pistol, which holds 30 rounds, killed ten people at a King Scoopers Supermarket.
- In Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, 2021, a gunman armed with a semiautomatic pistol and an 18-round magazine targeted the Asian community, killing eight and wounding one more at Atlanta Area Massage Spas. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
- In Midland and Odessa, Texas, on August 31, 2019, a gunman killed eight people and wounded 25 more using an AR-15-type assault rifle and four 30-round magazines.
- In Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 4, 2019, a gunman shot and killed nine people and injured 17 others near the entrance of the Ned Peppers Bar in the Oregon District of Dayton.
- In El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019, a shooter walked into a Walmart store where he killed 23 people and injured 23 others, in what some have described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.
- In Virginia Beach, Virginia, on May 31, 2019, a gunman, armed with two semiautomatic weapons and extended magazines, killed 12 individuals and wounded another six at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.
- In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 27, 2018, a shooter killed eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life Congregation during Shabbat morning services –the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States – using an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
- In Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018, a nineteen-year-old former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others.
- In Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2017, a shooter killed 26 and injured 20 other worshipers who were attending regular Sunday church services. The attack, with an AR-15, was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas and the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in the United States.
- In Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 1, 2017, a shooter opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. The shooter fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 people and leaving 851 injured – over 400 of them by gunfire and hundreds more in the ensuing panic. This is the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
- In Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, a shooter fired bullets from a 30-round assault rifle and a 17-round semi-automatic pistol into the crowded Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 and injuring more than 50 others in what was at the time the worst mass shooting in American history.
- In San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2, 2015, armed with assault rifles and other weapons, two shooters stormed a social services center where one had worked, fatally shooting 14 people and injuring at least 17 others.
- In Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, an armed gunman using a Glock .45 model 41-pistol and 13-round magazines killed nine parishioners at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
- In Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, a shooter used 30-round magazines to take the lives of 20 elementary students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When the shooter reloaded his gun, eleven students managed to escape.
- In Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012, a shooter used a 100-round drum magazine and a 40-round magazine to kill 12 people and wound another 58 at a movie theater. His 100-round magazine jammed during the shooting, preventing even more casualties.
- In Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 8, 2011, a shooter used two 31-round magazines and two 15-round magazines in the shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 more, including then U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
- In Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009, a shooter 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 the would-be shooter as saying he did not like spending time loading magazines.
- In DeKalb, Illinois, on February 14, 2008, a shooter killed six individuals and wounded 21 more using several semiautomatic pistols and 33- and 15-round magazines.
- In Blacksburg, Virginia, on Apr. 16, 2007, an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech shot 49 people on campus with two semi-automatic pistols, killing 32 and wounding 17 more. Several other victims were injured jumping from windows to escape the gunfire.
- In Columbine, Colorado, on Apr. 20, 1999, a pair of students murdered 12 classmates and a teacher. Ten students were murdered in the library, where the shooters subsequently committed suicide. At the time, it was the deadliest shooting at a high school in United States history.
- In Killeen, Texas, on Oct. 16, 1991, a gunman drove his pickup truck through the front window of the Luby’s Cafeteria and then proceeded to shoot and kill 23 people, wounding 27 others.
- In Stockton, California, on January 17, 1989, a gunman, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a 75-round drum magazine, killed five and wounded another 30 at Cleveland Elementary School.
- In San Diego, California, on July 18, 1984, a shooter killed 21 people and injured 19 others in and around a McDonald’s restaurant in the San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego before a SWAT team fatally shot the shooter.