Debate Club

Mass Shootings Have High-Capacity Magazines in Common


An analysis of mass shootings in the United States of America reveals one variable that has remained remarkably consistent over time: The use of detachable, high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges.

A recent study of mass shootings by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City identified 30 such incidents from 1984 until the present in which semiautomatic firearms (either handguns or long guns) and high-capacity ammunition magazines were used. This includes Virginia Tech (2007), Northern Illinois University (2008), Fort Hood (2009), Tucson (2011), Aurora (2012), Oak Creek (2012), and Sandy Hook (2012).

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

It is notable that several of these shootings were stopped when the gunman attempted to reload his firearm, including the 1993 shooting on the Long Island Railroad, the 1998 shooting at Thurston High School in Oregon and, of course, Tucson.

In a dramatic statement made in an Arizona courtroom in November, Tucson victim Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly made it clear that politicians who refuse to see the connection between mass murder and high-capacity ammunition magazines are being willfully blind:

In this state we have elected officials so feckless in their leadership that they would say, as in the case of Governor Jan Brewer, 'I don't think it has anything to do with the size of the magazine or the caliber of the gun.' She went on and said, 'Even if the shooter's weapon had held fewer bullets, he'd have another gun, maybe. He could have three guns in his pocket.' She said this just one week after a high-capacity magazine allowed [gunman Jared Loughner] to kill six and wound 19 others, before being wrestled to the ground while attempting to reload.

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on the Newtown shooting.]

A ban on high-capacity magazines would not stop shootings in America, but it would make these incidents less lethal and save precious lives. It is appropriate that legislation to prohibit these magazines has been introduced in the House by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York, whose husband was killed and son grievously wounded in the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting, and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, whose district includes Columbine High School.

They, as well as anyone, understand the continued price of inaction. And perhaps, after Sandy Hook, the American people do as well.

About Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

gun control and gun rights
Giffords, Gabrielle

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

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

Josh Sugarmann Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center

-2,021 Pts
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy: Banning High-Capacity Magazines Will Save Lives

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