February 08, 2023

Duckworth, Durbin Join Senate Colleagues in Reintroducing Legislation to Ban High-Capacity Magazines


[WASHINGTON, D.C.]—U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and 25 Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Keep Americans Safe Act, renewing efforts to ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. High-capacity ammunition magazines allow shooters to fire a large number of bullets without stopping to reload. As a result, from 2009-2020, mass shootings where the shooter used high-capacity magazines led to five-times as many people being shot per mass shooting than incidents that did not involve high-capacity magazines

“How many lives must be taken before we finally say, ‘enough is enough?’” said Senator Duckworth. “I don’t want my daughters to have to grow up in a country that won’t protect them from firearm violence. We must keep passing commonsense public safety measures to help prevent mass shootings from continuing to devastate our communities, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Keep Americans Safe Act.”

“There’s no denying it.  Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are instruments of war, and too many times they have been used in American neighborhoods to kill large numbers of people in just a few seconds. We cannot become desensitized to the unspeakable violence and destruction that these weapons can inflict on children at school, a community gathered for a parade, or those shopping in a grocery store,” said Senator Durbin. “If we want to put an end to the uniquely American tragedy of mass shootings, we must ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.  I hope my colleagues can come together to pass the Keep Americans Safe Act to do just that.”

“High-capacity magazines were designed for one purpose and one purpose only—high-capacity killing—and have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in America,” said Senator Menendez. “This is a commonsense bill that will provide greater peace of mind to communities and families across the country that have felt the despair of losing a loved one, friend, or neighbor in a mass shooting with guns equipped with high-capacity magazines. We cannot afford to sit idly by as the gun violence epidemic continues to ravage communities and devastate families. We have a responsibility to take actions that will save lives, and I urge my colleagues to join me in advancing this commonsense legislation in the Senate.” 

The bill was introduced during the annual Gun Violence Survivors Week and ahead of the anniversary of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida—one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, this bill includes the following provisions: 

  1. Provides limited exceptions for devices possessed before enactment, for certain current and former law enforcement personnel, for certain Atomic Energy personnel and other purposes, for tubular devices that can only accept .22 rimfire ammunition and for certain authorized testing or experimentation; 
  2. Modifies the high-capacity definition to prevent coupled or joined magazines; 
  3. Authorizes a buyback program for high-capacity magazines using Byrne JAG grants; 
  4. Requires devices manufactured after enactment to have conspicuous serial numbers and date of manufacturing to help law enforcement identify restricted magazines; 
  5. Harmonizes forfeiture provisions for magazines with current law (currently the FBI and ATF can seize and destroy certain firearms but not high-capacity magazines). 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, last year there were 648 mass shootings and more than 44,300 gun-related deaths in the United States. This year alone, there has already been 60 mass shootings with nearly 4,300 gun-related deaths, which represents a staggering rate of 116 lives lost to guns every day since the beginning of 2023.

Last month, Duckworth helped introduce the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. In 2022, Duckworth also worked to pass one of the most significant commonsense gun safety reforms to become law in a generation. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, provides $1 billion for community-based violence prevention programs and efforts to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people to help curb our nation's gun violence epidemic and stop gun crimes before they can happen.

Joining Duckworth and Durbin in cosponsoring the Keep Americans Safe Act in the U.S. Senate are U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Angus King (I-ME), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tina Smith (D-MN). 

The Keep Americans Safe Act is also supported by leading gun violence prevention advocacy groups including Brady, Giffords, Everytown, March for Our Lives, Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise, Center for American Progress, Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety and Change The Ref.

The full text of the bill can be found here.