The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to reinstate a nationwide ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines.
The legislation -- known as the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 -- includes, among other things, a provision originally introduced by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) to ban the sale, transfer or possession of high-capacity gun magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
"There is no legitimate reason why any civilian in this country needs an AR-15-style assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine," DeGette said. "Experts agree that reinstating a nationwide ban on high-capacity gun magazines is one of the most effective things we can do to better protect our communities, and that's why getting this legislation approved has been one of our top priorities."
While no two mass shootings are the same, the use of high-capacity gun magazines has become a staple of some of the nation's deadliest events. High-capacity magazines capable of holding 30, 60 or even 100 rounds of ammunition allow a gunman to fire dozens of rounds before having to stop and reload, enabling them to kill more people in less time.
In 2019, for example, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio used a high-capacity magazine capable of holding up to 100 rounds of ammunition to fire 41 rounds -- and kill nine people -- in just 32 seconds.
In 2012, a gunman in Aurora, Colorado armed with a drum magazine capable of holding up to 100 rounds opened fire in a crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring 58 more.
The gunman who killed 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 was armed with high-capacity magazines capable of holding 30 rounds each; as was the shooter who killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016; and the gunman who killed 17 students and injured 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida two years later.
In 1994, the federal government took steps to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines in the U.S. That ban, however, expired in 2004 and experts agree that reinstating it is one of the most effective things Congress can do to help protect communities across the country.
The legislation led by DeGette and Deutch to reinstate the ban would not apply to certain law enforcement, or to any high-capacity magazines already legally owned before the measure takes effect.
In addition to, once again, banning the sale, transfer or possession of high-capacity gun magazines across the U.S., it would give law enforcement agencies -- including FBI and ATF -- the authority needed to seize and destroy high-capacity magazines possessed illegally. It also authorizes buyback programs for any high-capacity magazines already legally owned.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.