On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School using 30-round magazines, enabling him to fire more than 150 rounds in five minutes. Lanza left his small capacity magazines at home, in what seemed to be a conscious decision to kill as many students and teachers as he could as quickly and lethally as possible.
I'm offering an amendment to the Senate's gun violence prevention measure that would ban high-capacity magazines, a common sense proposal that a majority of Americans support. I'm offering this amendment to keep faith with the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and the community of Newtown. Passing this amendment is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.
The use of high-capacity magazines was not unique to Newtown. In fact, their use in mass shootings is all too commonplace. Since 1982, 31 of the 62 mass shootings have involved high-capacity magazines. Mass shooters know that high-capacity magazines allow them to take more lives, more rapidly.
James Holmes used a 100-round magazine to kill 12 people and wound 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Jared Loughner used 15- and 33-round magazines to severely injure Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and kill six people at a constituent event in Tucson, Arizona. Michael Page used 19-round magazines to kill seven people and wound four others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. And the list goes on.
My amendment can help save lives by banning the sale of magazines capable of firing more than 10 rounds. We know, for example, that the 13th bullet fired by Loughner in Tucson killed nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Imagine if Loughner had needed to change magazines after firing the first 10 rounds; Green, the youngest person killed on that horrific day, might well be alive today.
We also know that children were able to escape Sandy Hook Elementary School when the gun Lanza used jammed or he was forced to change magazines. Limiting magazines to 10 rounds increases the likelihood for intervention. It raises the chance that a replacement magazine will be dropped, the gun will jam, or the shooter will be tackled as Loughner was in Tucson. Imagine the number of lives that might have been saved if Lanza had needed to change magazines 15 times.
The American people understand how dangerous these clips can be. According to a Washington Post-ABC poll released April 12, 65 percent of Americans support a ban on high-capacity magazines.
From 1994 to 2004, the United States had a ban on the sale of magazines capable of firing more than 10 rounds. Despite a loophole in the law, the 1994 ban led to a significant reduction in the number of guns with high-capacity magazines that were recovered by police.
The amendment I'm offering promises to be even more effective than the 1994 law. Unlike that measure, it would prohibit the importation of high-capacity magazines, closing a loophole that undermined the ability of the 1994 ban to keep these devices off our streets. In addition, the amendment would provide funding for a buy-back program for existing high-capacity magazines already in circulation. No one would be forced to participate in the buy-back program, but, instead, would have the option of doing so. Over time, this program, along with the ban on the sale and importation of high-capacity magazines, would reduce the number of these clips in circulation.
There is a reason why high capacity magazines are chosen in mass shootings - because they make shooters more lethal. Reducing the rounds means reducing the potential of more lives being lost at the barrel of a gun. It's that simple.