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Bans on High-Capacity Magazines, Not Assault Rifles

The day after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addressed the fears the massacre evoked. Speaking at an event in Cleveland, Ohio, Clinton highlighted what she saw as crucial steps for stopping such terrorist attacks later on. Along with more aggressive intelligence gathering and resources for local law enforcement, Clinton devoted to one of several weapons employed by the shooter in Orlando, Florida: a military-style rifle exactly like the AR-15.

“It’s essential we stop terrorists from obtaining the tools they have to carry out attacks,” Clinton said, receiving the speech’s loudest applause when she clarified that was discussing “assault weapons” like the AR-15. Calling them “weapons of war,” she argued that “they have no place on our streets.”

Clinton’s broad condemnation suggests she might push to regenerate the federal ban on assault weapons, a law her husband signed in 1994. The ban was among the most controversial gun reform policies of the past 2 decades, and calls to re-institute it attended after many high-profile shootings.

But many experts doubt the ban had any significant impact before it expired in 2004.

Today, many experts instead believe the top ways to reduce the carnage in attacks much like the one in Orlando would be to ban high-capacity magazines. These devices feed semiautomatic firearms, including handguns, large amounts of ammunition, allowing shooters to fire for longer before reloading. While assault-style rifles such as the AR-15 could improve the lethality of an attack in certain situations, they say, it is high-capacity magazines that allow shooters to fire a large number of shots without stopping.

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said the Orlando shooter used a Sig Sauer MCX semiautomatic rifle, which fires as quickly as its user can pull the trigger which enable it to be furnished with detachable magazines that hold many rounds. The

Orlando shooter used 30-round magazines, in line with the ATF, that are illegal in a very few states, but not in Florida. That almost definitely contributed for the high body count, considering that the shooter did not have to pause to reload as frequently as however have having a smaller magazine.

The semiautomatic rifle utilized in the Orlando massacre resembles those utilized in past mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; Roseburg, Oregon; and San Bernardino, California.

Though assault weapons are becoming a potent symbol of mass shootings, bans of that design of gun really are a “distraction,” said Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor and also the author of Gunfight. For starters, he states, it didn’t actually stop manufacturers from selling assault rifles. Because the 1994 ban defined weapons based on “cosmetic” features like pistol grips or collapsible stocks, gun makers evaded these restrictions by removing just enough design features so as to not trigger the ban. Meanwhile, the weapons remained semiautomatic and might still accept magazines from a size.

Winkler says he believes a ban on magazines that hold a lot of ammunition would be a more potent strategy in limiting the carnage from your mass shooting. “It makes a great deal more sense to spotlight high-capacity magazines than assault rifles,” he states. Winkler notes that it’s not the style of a gun but “the size of your magazine [that’s] associated with the volume of damage a weapon could cause.” (The 1994 law included this type of ban, but there was clearly no restriction on the sale or possession of high-capacity magazines, and millions remained in circulation.)

This thinking has guided policies in eight states, which ban in a few form high-capacity magazines. New York’s SAFE Act, signed into law weeks following your 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, included bans on possession from a magazine effective at holding more than 10 rounds. Later in 2013, Colorado banned the sale of magazines that carry greater than 15 rounds.

In California, some local while stating lawmakers have required new restrictions on high-capacity magazines. The state already outlaws sale in the magazines, although not possession. After the state was rocked with the San Bernardino shootings in December, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom began campaigning to flourish a Los Angeles law banning possession statewide.

Restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are supported by a smaller most Americans. A poll conducted from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in March 2015 discovered that 63 percent coming from all Americans favored assault weapon bans, and 60 % favored banning the sale of high-capacity magazines.

Californians support restrictions on assault weapons and magazine capacities at similar levels on the rest in the country. A poll conducted soon as soon as the San Bernardino shooting with the Field Corporation, a San Francisco-based public opinion research firm, found that 58 percent in the state’s voters supported banning possession of large magazines and 56 percent supported a large assault weapons ban that included all semiautomatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines.

Florida voters are not polled on assault weapon or magazine capacity restrictions since March 2013, once the latest high-profile mass shooting had occurred about 1,000 miles away in Connecticut. Quinnipiac University pollsters found out that Florida voters were slightly in favor from the laws: 56 percent favored a national assault weapons ban, and 53 percent favored a ban on magazines that hold a lot more than 10 rounds.

At least one expert suspects those views might alteration of the wake with the nation’s worst mass shooting. Susan MacManus, a professor of political science in the University of South Florida who conducts the Sunshine State poll on political issues, says of assault weapon and magazine capacity restrictions, “I am sure that support levels can be higher after yesterday’s shooting.”


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