WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today reintroduced the Keep Americans Safe Act, renewing a concerted effort to ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. These high-capacity magazines are designed for shooting and killing en masse and have been the accessory of choice in some of the bloodiest mass shootings in America.
The introduction of this bill comes days before the 14th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting and the 22nd anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, two of the deadliest mass shootings in American history perpetrated by mass shooters equipped with high-capacity magazines.
“Ending the gun violence epidemic should remain a top priority, as communities across the country suffer the tragic consequences of senseless gun violence on a day to day basis,” said Senator Cardin. “High-capacity gun magazines and weapons of war have no place in our society. I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Keep Americans Safe Act to restrict the sale, production and ownership of lethal and unnecessary gun magazines. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to bring meaningful gun violence prevention legislation over the finish line before we lose any more innocent lives.”
“The gun violence epidemic has wreaked havoc on communities in Maryland and across the country,” said Senator Van Hollen. “We don’t need weapons of war on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and prohibiting military-grade, high-capacity gun magazines will help save innocent lives. It’s time that Congress put a stop to the senseless violence that has plagued so many and act on common-sense gun safety reform.”
The Keep Americans Safe Act is cosponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez (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 (D-Penn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). In the House, Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.-22), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.-01) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01) joined as original cosponsors of this legislation.
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 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 program 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.
Full text of the bill can be downloaded HERE.
The legislation is supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Everytown; March for Our Lives; Change The Ref; Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; Center for American Progress and Violence Policy Center; Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety.
“My son, Joaquin Oliver, was murdered with a legally purchased AR-15 killing machine. Our elected officials allow our society to arm ourselves and kill each other by holding a political narrative that promotes the sales of weapons and ignores the more than 40K victims of gun violence per year. For these reasons, we must support the Keep Americans Safe Act,” said Manuel Oliver, co-founder Change The Ref.
“My name is Fred Guttenberg. I am a father to Jesse and Jaime Guttenberg. Both of my children were in the Parkland school shooting. My son Jesse was not injured, but my daughter Jaime was murdered that day. Jesse will forever live with the sound of those bullets killing his sister. Why? Why would we not do everything possible to save lives in America? Why is this even a debate? As a country, we need to do everything possible to lower the gun violence death rate, the instances of gun violence, and the severity of gun violence injuries when they happen. A ban on high capacity magazines will do that. WE MUST PASS THE KEEP AMERICANS SAFE ACT,” said Fred Guttenberg, Orange Ribbons For Gun Safety.
“I am in full support of the Keep Americans Safe Act because it will reduce the number of rounds in a firearm magazine to 10 or less. Both my husband, Chris Hixon, and my son, Thomas Hixon, are military veterans and I understand the need for these high-capacity magazines in the military but as a surviving spouse of someone killed in the Parkland shooting, I know these magazines are not needed on the streets of America,” said Debbi Hixon, whose husband, Chris, was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. “I am glad to see the limited exceptions included in the bill because it shows a good faith effort to reach across the aisle and create a bill that all parties can embrace and support.”
In 2019, more than 39,700 Americans died from gun violence, which represents over 3,300 gun deaths each month, over 763 gun deaths a week, and nearly 109 people are killed with guns every day. High-capacity magazines have been used in some of the country’s deadliest mass shootings:
- In Boulder, Colo., on March 22, 2021, a shooter armed with a Ruger AR-556 Pistol, which holds 30 rounds, and killed ten people at a King Scoopers supermarket.
- 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 and killed 23 people and injured 23 others, in what has been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.
- In Pittsburgh, Penn., 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 for his attack.
- In Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others. Witnesses identified nineteen-year-old former student.
- 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, Nev., 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, firing 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 the United States history.
- In Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, a shooter fired bullets from a 30-round assault rifle and a 17-round semi-automatic pistol into a crowded Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 and injuring more than 50 others in what was then the worst mass shooting in American history.
- In San Bernardino, Calif., 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 Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, a shooter used 30-round magazines to take the lives of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When the shooter reloaded his gun, eleven students managed to escape.
- In Aurora, Colo., 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. His 100-round magazine jammed during the shooting, preventing even more casualties.
- In Tucson, Ariz., 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. The gunman was tackled to the ground while changing magazines and is one of many shootings – including the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting and the 1998 Thurston High School shooting – that ended when the shooter attempted to reload his gun.
- 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 didn’t like spending time loading 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. Several other victims were injured jumping from windows to escape the gunfire.
- In Columbine, Colo., on Apr. 20, 1999, a pair of students murdered 12 classmates and one 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 San Diego, Calif., 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 being fatally shot by a SWAT team.
(Sources: Center for American Progress, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)