House passes a bill to outlaw the sale of large-capacity gun magazines

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Supporters say high-capacity bullet storage is a factor in many mass slayings

The Delaware House passed a measure Thursday that would prohibit the sale of large-capacity gun magazines in Delaware.

Sponsored by House Majority Whip Larry Mitchell, Senate Bill 6(S) would outlaw the sale of large-capacity magazines capable of holding any more than 17 rounds, set elevated penalties for the use of illegal magazines in the commission of a crime, and create a buyback program to purchase large-capacity magazines currently in circulation.

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The measure, passed on a mainly party line vote, with a couple of Democrats in the no column, is part of a six-bill package announced earlier this month in the wake of multiple mass shootings last month. The bills would raise the age from 18 to 21 to purchase most firearms, prohibit the sale and manufacture of assault-style weapons, strengthen background checks, hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for reckless or negligent actions, and ban the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons.

“There is no logical reason for the average person to be able to fire 20, 30, or 100 bullets without the need to reload. Limiting the number of rounds a person can fire at once is another piece of the puzzle to reduce gun violence without impacting a person’s right to own or use a firearm,” said Mitchell, D-Elsmere. “As a retired police officer, I’ve seen firsthand how gun violence can tear apart families and the dangerous implications of large-capacity magazines. What we’re doing today is taking a meaningful step toward addressing the ongoing and tragic issue of gun violence, and I’m looking forward to seeing this bill signed into law.”

Democrats noted that large-capacity magazines have been used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings over the last decade, while mass shootings that involved large-capacity magazines have resulted in twice as many fatalities as those that do not, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

A 2018 study also found that as many as 36% of guns used in crimes and nearly 40% of guns used to commit serious violent crimes – including the murder of law enforcement officers – were equipped with large-capacity magazines. At least nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning large-capacity magazines, including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland – all of which set their cap on magazine capacity at 10 rounds, Democrats noted.

Republicans have argued that the magazine limit infringes on Second Amendment rights and could be overturned in court.

Critics also say the main problem is soft prosecution of gun crimes.

The measure heads to the Senate for final consideration.

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