Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines

High-capacity magazines allow firearms to be discharged repeatedly without reloading. This increases the potential for them to harm more people very quickly. An assault weapon refers to a semi-automatic, military-style firearm with high muzzle velocity and rapid rate of fire. Together, high-capacity magazines and assault weapons increase the lethality of gun violence. We support legislation prohibiting the sale and transfer of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.

What Are Assault Weapons?

Assault weapons are military-style firearms intended to fire multiple rounds in quick succession – killing people quickly with little effort. They can be used with detachable magazines that can fire more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Assault weapons were primarily designed for use in war and battlefields. But because there’s no federal restriction on the sale of these weapons, civilians have been able to purchase assault weapons to carry out some of our nation’s deadliest mass shootings.

What Are High-Capacity Magazines?

High-capacity magazines, also known as large-capacity magazines, are those that contain more than 10 rounds of ammunition. They can be used with any semi-automatic firearm that accepts a detachable magazine, including handguns, and allow the firearm user to fire repeatedly for longer periods of time without having to reload. 

Congress has introduced the GOSAFE Act, which would increase federal regulation of certain semi-automatic firearms, large-capacity magazines and related conversion devices. Please sign our petition right now to tell Congress to pass the GOSAFE Act to stop the sale of the most lethal semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines!

Why Limit Access?

Every time a shooter must pause to reload, there is an opportunity for lives to be saved. High-capacity magazines and assault weapons drastically reduce the number of these opportunities, increasing the ability of a shooter to harm large numbers of people quickly. 

The shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School had an assault weapon and ten 30-round magazines in his possession. In 4 minutes, he shot 154 bullets, killing 20 children and 6 adults. When he had to pause to reload, 11 children were able to escape.

How Effective Are Restrictions?

Laws restricting possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have been shown to be the best predictors of a state’s rate of mass shootings.1 States without laws limiting magazines or assault weapons have significantly more high-fatality mass shootings and significantly higher death rates from such incidents than states with limits in place.2

From 1994 to 2004, federal law made it illegal to transfer or possess large capacity magazines and certain semi-automatic firearms in the US. During this time, mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur than in periods before or after the law’s enforcement.3 After the law expired in 2004, there was a 183% increase in in high-fatality mass shootings and a 239% increase in deaths resulting from such shootings.4

Magazine Capacity Limits

Which States Have Magazine Limits?

As of June 2020, nine states and the District of Columbia have laws in place restricting the sale and possession high-capacity magazines: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.

Many of those same states also ban the sale of assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

How Can We Take Action?

We need to call on Congress to pass proven gun safety policies.

The Keep Americans Safe Act (S. 298H.R. 625) would prohibit the sale and transfer of high-capacity magazines. 

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 (S. 25 / H.R. 698) would limit the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. 

Help Protect Children
Please Send a Message to Congress to stop the sale of the most lethal semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines.

1. Sam Petulla, “Here is 1 correlation between state gun laws and mass shootings,” CNN, October 5, 2017.

2. Louis Klarevas, Andrew Conner, David Hemenway (2019), “The Effect of Large-Capacity Magazine Bans on High-Fatality Mass Shootings, 1990-2017,” American Journal of Public Health 109, 1754-1761

3. Charles DiMaggio et al., “Changes in US Mass Shooting Deaths Associated with he 1994-2004 Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Analysis of Open-source Data,” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 86, no. 1 (2019): 11-19.