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What would Romrell’s high-capacity magazine ban accomplish?

What would Romrell’s high-capacity magazine ban accomplish?

Fred Birnbaum
April 20, 2016
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April 20, 2016

Rep. Paul Romrell indicated in a recent survey that he would support a ban on high-capacity gun magazines. I ask myself, what outcome would this achieve?

I believe we all understand that it is easier to kill more people with more ammunition. However, this is one of many proposals that purports to prevent the shooting of innocents but, in the end, it is more about perception than substance.

Magazines are very easy to manufacture, they are simply a metal or plastic box with an internal spring-loading feature. Even if we could ban their domestic manufacture, what would stop someone from making them or smuggling them into the country? Three-dimensional printers could easily churn out magazines.

Why would a criminal or terrorist pay any attention to a ban anyway? As recent mass shootings in Paris grimly illustrate, the logic of the criminal or terrorist has nothing to do with the laws of a civil society.

Finally, it should be noted, the U.S. has already experimented with a high-capacity magazine ban at the national level. In September 1994, President Clinton signed into law the “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act,” more commonly known as the “assault weapons ban.” This act remained in effect for 10 years, finally sun-setting in September 2004. Among other provisions, it banned the manufacture and possession of magazines of greater than 10 rounds of capacity, except for military and law enforcement purposes.

What were the effects of this legislation? Well, because it grandfathered those weapons and magazines manufactured before the law took effect, the market was awash with high capacity magazines that folks sought to peddle before the ban became law. I imagine another legislative push would be met with the same market reaction - buy them before they are banned!

More importantly, many researchers reviewed the impact of the ban and none of them determined that it had any conclusive, positive impact. Even federal government officials had to concede this when the discussion on renewal came before Congress.

So given that 10-year country-wide experiment, perhaps Rep. Paul Romrell should familiarize himself with the data and history of the last assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban, before shooting from the hip.

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