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Shots Fired May Be Forcing New Debate On Ammunition Capacity

November 21, 2018 – By Jeff Fletcher

When 32-year old Juan Lopez shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and three others including one police officer yesterday in a Chicago area hospital, he ran at least 30 rounds of ammunition through his semi-auto Glock pistol before killing himself, said a Chicago police spokesman.

About the same time, gun owners in New Jersey were challenging a law passed in June that reduced, and then limited, ammunition capacity in magazines from 15 rounds to 10. A 3-judge panel in the 3rd US Circuit Court  heard a New Jersey gun group argue that 10 rounds may not be enough to deter criminals intent in home invasions, car jackings, robbery and other crimes that require personal self-protection by gun owners before first responders arrive.

Meanwhile, in Erie County New York, 23 people are charged with a crime that, under the infamous SAFE Act signed into law in January 2013, limited magazine capacity to just seven rounds – despite the fact that at the time no 7-round magazines existed – two federal courts in 2015 declared the limit on magazine capacity was unconstitutional. Some New York state agencies have now said they will stop enforcing the magazine law.

As the gun debate heated up just prior to the midterm elections concern over mass shootings focused on the one that occurred at a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27 in which the shooter, Robert Bowers, used an AR-15 rifle (some reports reported the rifle to be an AK-47) and one – and possibly two – Glock pistols with hi-cap magazines.

On the day following the November 6 election, 28-year old Ian David Long took his .45 caliber Glock pistol and an extended round magazine into the Borderline dance club in Thousand Oaks, California and killed 12 people including himself.

Efforts by gun controllers, either as advocacy groups or the public at large, have railed against ammunition capacity for years, mostly to no avail but that subject is almost a certainty to come up again next year when Democrats take over the House. They have already said that gun control is a priority and high-capacity magazines are likely to be a part of their efforts.

Still, conservative gun owners and gun rights activist groups like the NRA, Gun Owners of America, Second Amendment Foundation and others are likely to press for reviews of the cacophony of municipal, state and some recently proposed federal gun restrictions such as bump stocks by the U.S. Supreme Court. The last major court decisions were Heller in 2008 and McDonald in 2010.  Since that time state and local governments have taken it upon themselves to continue adding new twists to the gun control issue. Washington State, for example, just passed I-1639 which provides for storage controls, gun purchase age limits, enhanced background checks and other measures.  Oregon and California are ready to jumpstart ammunition background checks – not just guns – while other considerations include a special tax on the sale of ammunition and, in California, restrictions on the delivery of ammo bought from out-of-state sources.

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