Debate Club

High-Capacity Magazines Put the 'Mass' in Mass Shooting

By Josh Sugarmann SHARE

Semiautomatic firearms with the capacity to accept a detachable high-capacity ammunition magazine are the single lethal thread that runs through the vast majority of mass shootings in the United States. From Cleveland Elementary School, in Stockton, Calif., where in 1989 Patrick Purdy opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle equipped with a 75-round drum ammunition magazine on teachers and schoolchildren leaving five victims dead and 30 wounded, to the Sandy Hook Elementary School where Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster assault rifle equipped with a 30-round magazine to kill 20 grade schoolers and school staff, this lethal combination is what has defined our nation's most horrific mass shootings.]

[See a collection of political cartoons on gun control and gun rights.]

On January 3, 2013, Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Carolyn McCarthy of New York introduced legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. The bill would ban the sale and transfer of ammunition magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. Both lawmakers know all too well the damage high-capacity ammunition magazines can inflict. In 1993, McCarthy lost her husband in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad, where Colin Ferguson, armed with a 9mm Ruger pistol and four 15-round ammunition magazines, opened fire on commuters, killing six and wounding 19. DeGette's congressional district was the site of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold armed with guns that included an Intratec TEC-DC9 assault pistol and high-capacity ammunition magazines killed 13 and wounded 23. In July 2012, James Holmes armed with firearms that included a Smith & Wesson M&P15 assault rifle equipped with a 100-round drum magazine, opened fire at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater near Representative DeGette's district, killing 12 and wounding 58.

As McCarthy stated in announcing the introduction of the bill last week, high-capacity ammunition magazines "help put the 'mass' in 'mass shooting.'"

Josh Sugarmann

About Josh Sugarmann Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center

McCarthy, Carolyn
DeGette, Diana
gun control and gun rights

Other Arguments

2,518 Pts
High-Capacity Magazines Are Needed for Self-Defense

No – High-Capacity Magazines Are Needed for Self-Defense

Gene Hoffman Chairman of the Calguns Foundation

2,307 Pts
Infringing on Second Amendment Threatens Our Safety and Liberty

No – Infringing on Second Amendment Threatens Our Safety and Liberty

Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America

-2,021 Pts
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy: Banning High-Capacity Magazines Will Save Lives
-2,029 Pts
Mass Shootings Have High-Capacity Magazines in Common

Yes – Mass Shootings Have High-Capacity Magazines in Common

Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

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