Federal Lawmakers Face Debate on High-Capacity Gun Magazines


USA Today says that assault rifles get the headlines in the gun control debate, but equally important — and often overlooked — are the high-capacity magazines used to fuel the firepower in mass shootings. Police recovered a 100-round magazine drum at the scene of the shooting July 20 at the Aurora, Colo., theater. They say suspect James Holmes bought the rapid-fire drum, capable of shooting up to 60 rounds a minute, legally over the Internet and used it in the shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured.

For years, gun control advocates have tried to ban high-capacity magazines. This week, the Senate is likely to debate a ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds. Senate Democrats have proposed adding it as an amendment to a cybersecurity bill, fast-tracking one of the most controversial issues facing Congress. A similar bill in the House has languished in committee. High-capacity magazines have been used in virtually every high-profile shooting in recent history, including at Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 and last year’s attack outside a Tucson-area supermarket, where six people were killed and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., ban or limit the use of high-capacity magazines. Elsewhere, purchasers are not required to undergo background checks, and there are no limits on how much ammunition someone can buy.

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