The number of guns with high-capacity magazines seized by Virginia police dropped during a decade-long federal prohibition on assault weapons, but the rate has rebounded sharply since the ban was lifted in 2004, the Washington Post reports. More than 15,000 guns equipped with high-capacity magazines – holding 11 or more bullets – have been seized by Virginia police since 1993.
The role of high-capacity magazines was thrust into the national spotlight when Jared Loughner allegedly opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun outside a Tucson grocery store, killing six and wounding 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ.). Authorities say Loughner used a legally purchased 9mm Glock 19 handgun with a 31-round clip and was tackled while changing magazines. Last year in Virginia, guns with high-capacity magazines amounted to 22 percent of the weapons recovered and reported by police. In 2004, when the ban expired, the rate had reached a low of 10 percent. In each year since then, the rate has gone up. “Maybe the federal ban was finally starting to make a dent in the market by the time it ended,” said Christopher Koper of the Police Executive Research Forum, who studied the assault weapons ban for the National Institute of Justice. Congress could reinstitute the prohibition on high-capacity magazines, a measure opposed by gun-rights advocates.