Old U.S. Law Had Some Effect on High-Capacity Ammo Magazines


During the 10-year federal ban on assault weapons, the percentage of firearms equipped with high-capacity magazines seized by police in Virginia dropped, only to rise sharply once the restrictions were lifted in 2004, reports the Washington Post. The snapshot in Virginia suggests that the federal ban may have started to curb the widespread availability of the larger magazines. “I was skeptical that the ban would be effective, and I was wrong,” said Garen Wintemute of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine. The database analysis offers “about as clear an example as we could ask for of evidence that the ban was working.”

Nationwide, researchers who studied the federal ban had difficulty determining its effect, because weapons and magazines made before the ban could still be sold and because most criminals do not use assault weapons. Christopher Koper of George Mason University, who studied the ban's effect for the National Institute of Justice, said the “success in reducing criminal use of the banned guns and magazines” was “mixed.” He found that gun crimes involving assault weapons declined between 17 and 72 percent in six cities, Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. He found no decline in crimes committed with other guns with large-capacity magazines, most likely “due to the immense stock of exempted pre-ban magazines.” Koper said the Post's findings on magazine capacity of guns recovered in Virginia suggests that “maybe the federal ban was finally starting to make a dent in the market by the time it ended.”

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