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Congressional Democrats File Gun Magazine Limit Bill Once Again


Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, who took office one month after the Sandy Hook massacre, has filed a bill to limit the amount of bullets in gun magazines. The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act would ban the importation, sale, transfer, manufacturing and future possession of magazines holding more than 10 bullets.Esty is bringing the House bill forward with more than 100 Democratic co-sponsors. It mirrors Democratic legislation that has failed in recent years. Still, Esty says it’s a common sense step in limiting gun violence.

“If people are using 30, 50, 70, 100 bullet magazines and drums it turns guns into killing machines and there’s no reason for that,” said Esty.

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is leading the effort on the other side of Congress. He joined Esty and fellow Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut for a press conference to unveil the legislation.

“I know in these debates on reasonable gun control measures that I often hear for example about hunters and a way of life,” Menendez said. “Well if you need 10, 20, 30 or 100 shots as a hunter maybe you shouldn’t be a hunter. That is really not a compelling argument to suggest here.”

Under the federal assault weapons ban, magazines holding more than 10 bullets were not allowed, but with some of the same exceptions as the currently proposed legislation. The 10-year legislation was not reauthorized after 2004. Esty says the magazine ban is not an attack on the Second Amendment and places no limit on how many magazines a person can buy. She says children in Newtown were able to escape when the shooter had to reload.

“So when people say ‘Oh this doesn’t matter’ absolutely it does,” Esty said. “Those 11 children are alive today because he needed to reload. And if he had to reload after 10 rounds rather than after 30 more lives perhaps could’ve been saved.” 

In December, families of some Newtown victims filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the shooting, claiming negligence and wrongful death. The suit has been moved to federal court since Bushmaster is based in North Carolina.

The bill would not ban magazines for certain current and former law enforcement members, those in possession before passage or magazines for .22 caliber firearms. A magazine buyback program would also be created. Congress remains divided over gun legislation, with Republicans and Democrats failing to see eye-to-eye on background checks and other measures. Now, Republicans control both houses of Congress. In the meantime, states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York have passed gun legislation. But Senator Menendez says those fighting for more gun limits at the federal level will not stop.

“We’re going to continue to push for common sense gun laws so that no one like Alex Tevez, who grew up in New Jersey and found himself in Colorado, will ever again be gunned down by one man who could build an arsenal with the click of a mouse at his computer and have it delivered to his door by the cartload complete with ammunition, high capacity clips, explosives and bomb-making materials all within the laws that exist today,” said Menendez.

Esty says she will continue to push for comprehensive background checks and increased penalties on straw purchasing. The Democrat also says Congress needs to revisit gun laws for those involved in domestic violence situations, believing they are too limited to just spouses.

“We know now sadly that other family members, partners, grandparents and children can be at risk and need to be protected,” Esty said. “I would like to take a look at the temporary restraining order situation which we know to be extremely volatile and extremely dangerous.”

With 100-plus Democratic co-sponsors, Esty says she will reach out to Republicans in the GOP-controlled Congress for further support.

“I don’t give up,” Esty said. “And I’m an optimist, so I’ll keep working at it.”

The National Rifle Association did not respond to requests for comment.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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