Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 1186, the Keep Americans Safe Act, Legislation to Ban High Capacity Magazines

Washington, September 10, 2019
Tags: Crime

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during a markup of  H.R. 1186, the Keep Americans Safe Act: 

“H.R. 1186, the ‘Keep Americans Safe Act,’ introduced by our colleague, the Gentleman from Florida, Mr. Ted Deutch, would prohibit importing, selling, manufacturing, transferring, or possessing large capacity magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. 

“Time and time again, over the last decade, we have seen large capacity magazines used in horrific mass shootings.  These tragedies have been magnified in their destructiveness because of the use of large capacity magazines.  A review of the record is sobering.  For example, the screen depicts a 100-round dual drum rifle magazine similar to one used 7 years ago by the Aurora Movie Theater shooter with an AR-15 assault weapon.  

“Last month, the shooter in Dayton on August 4th used a 100-round drum magazine to kill 9 people and injure 27 others in just 30 seconds.  And, days before that attack, the shooter who killed 4 people and injured 13 others at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California used a 75-round drum magazine in addition to 40-round magazines.  

“The next screen shot shows the type of 30-round magazine used to kill 20 children and 6 adults in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Many of the 6- and 7-year-old victims were from the first-grade classrooms near the front of the school.  All but 2 of the victims were shot multiple times. 

“Before turning the weapon on himself, the shooter at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida used the same type of magazine, in addition to a pistol with a 17-round magazine, to kill 49 people 3 years ago.  The man who, on November 5, 2017, fatally shot 26 people and wounded 20 others at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, used a nearly identical magazine.  

“This photo shows a device similar to the 33-round magazine used by the gunman in Tucson, Arizona who seriously wounded and almost killed Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a supermarket parking lot in 2011.  The gunman used a handgun equipped with a 33-round magazine that enabled him to kill 6 people, including Chief Judge John Roll of the U. S. District Court of Arizona, and to injure 13 others. The shooter’s spree was only interrupted when he was tackled by a bystander as he temporarily stopped shooting to remove the magazine and attach a new one to his weapon. 

“Studies have shown what is plainly obvious to the vast majority of Americans: large capacity magazines make it easier to kill more people, and they serve virtually no other function.  One analysis of mass casualty shootings between 1982 and 2012 found that large capacity ammunition magazines were recovered in over half of these incidents. And, on average, their use caused twice as many fatalities, and 14 times as many injuries.  Without question, it is long overdue to ban these instruments of death. 

“Congress has considered and enacted similar legislation before.  In 1994, Congress banned the possession or transfer of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  Just as the bill before us today does, those who possessed magazines on or before the date of enactment that exceeded 10 rounds were ‘grandfathered in’ and they could continue to possess the banned magazines.  The 1994 prohibition was extremely successful, but it had a deadly flaw; it contained a sunset provision, and in 2004, the federal ban expired.    

“Since the expiration of this law in 2004, the use of high-capacity magazines in crime guns has grown substantially, with tragic results.  For example, in Virginia, when the federal ban was in effect, there was a significant reduction in the share of crime guns equipped with high-capacity magazines, down to an all-time low of 10 percent before the law expired in 2004.  But by 2010, the share of Virginia crime guns equipped with high-capacity magazines had more than doubled to 22 percent. 

“Nine states and the District of Columbia regulate high-capacity magazines. States with these laws experience mass shootings at less than half the rate of states without restrictions.  And according to a Boston University researcher, ‘Whether a state has a large capacity ammunition magazine ban is the single best predictor of the mass shooting rates in that state.’ 

“The evidence is clear that it is time that we finally re-establish a ban on these deadly devices, and the American people strongly agree.  One recent poll shows 70% of Americans support a ban on large-capacity magazines, which underscores the obvious:  we must reasonably limit the tool favored by mass casualty shooters.   

“The memory of their innocent victims and the critical need to prevent further mass shootings is what brings us here today.  Today, we take an important step to limit future carnage, by passing a 10-round magazine limit.  I thank Mr. Deutch for championing this effort and for introducing this significant bill, and I urge all my colleagues to support it.”