U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was joined by 18 Senate colleagues in introducing the Keep Americans Safe Act, legislation banning the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting en masse.
In what is now the deadliest mass shooting in American history, 59 people were killed and 527 injured after a gunman opened fire on Las Vegas concert-goers. According to investigators, the alleged shooter was in possession of more than 23 firearms, including several high-powered assault rifles, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
“How many lives need to be senselessly taken across our nation at the hands of a gun before the United States Congress wakes up and takes common sense steps to protect the public’s safety,” said Sen. Menendez. “What happened in Las Vegas is an unspeakable tragedy, but it is inexcusable for this Congress to remain silent in its aftermath. When 49 people in an Orlando nightclub were brutally slaughtered, it was time to act. When 20 young, defenseless children in a Connecticut elementary school were tragically gunned down, it was time to act. It was time to act after every mass shooting in America, and it’s time to act now after its worst. Large-capacity magazines have one singular purpose—to kill as many people as possible. They have no place in a civil society and must be banned to protect a weapon of mass murder getting in the hands of a killer.”
The Keep Americans Safe Act is cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
“There’s no good reason that high-capacity magazines, in some instances capable of storing as many as 100 rounds, should be available to the public,” said Sen. Booker. “Our country is a model for others in so many ways, but not when it comes to our broken gun laws. We must do the things that are necessary to make us safer and this bill is an obvious step in the right direction. Every day we fail to enact common sense gun safety measures brings death, injury, and heartbreak to countless American families and communities.”
“Limiting the size of magazines can give law enforcement an opportunity to stop a shooter who is on a rampage,” Sen. Kaine said. “We should pass this commonsense bill and other measures to curb deadly gun violence like the tragic shooting in Las Vegas this week. For too long, Congress has don’t nothing to stop these horrific events. We must do better.”
“Large-capacity magazines are not needed for sport shooting or to hunt deer; they are only meant to kill people – and they do far too often in this country. We need to do everything in our power to stop the carnage of these shootings. There are common sense steps we can take now, steps that are supported by an overwhelming number of Americans, including gun-owners, that can help break the cycle of callous disregard for the victims of gun violence,” said Sen. Cardin. “More talk and more prayers will not save lives. Only action and real changes in our federal and state laws can.”
“Large-capacity magazines exist for a single purpose: inflicting the most lethal damage possible in the shortest period of time,” Sen. Blumenthal said. There is no rational reasoning behind legalizing access to this degree of deadliness. It is long past time we ban large capacity ammunition. It is the very least we can do to keep our children, coworkers, and neighbors safe.”
“In the wake of the shooting in Las Vegas, our country has united to grieve the lives we’ve lost. But it’s also time for us to work together to stop the terrible toll of gun violence in our country,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “We need to take common sense steps – like prohibiting large capacity magazines. Our thoughts and prayers won’t end the bloodshed and save lives. It’s time to put politics aside and take action to stop this epidemic of gun violence.”
“Congress must finally stand up to the gun industry and protect Americans from horrific gun violence like we saw in Las Vegas,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “These weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible as rapidly as possible, and that includes high-capacity magazines that let violent killers fire dozens of rounds without having to frequently stop and reload. We must take gun violence as seriously as we take the threat of terrorism, and I urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation to keep our country safe.”
Full text of the Keep Americans Safe Act can be downloaded here. In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, the 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.