Senate Leaves Town without Magazine Ban Debate

Posted on August 3, 2012

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On Thursday, Aug. 2, the U.S. Senate began its summer recess without any debate on the magazine ban amendment proposed by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and others. The amendment could have been attached to a cybersecurity bill, S. 3414, but debate on the bill stalled over unrelated issues.

This amendment is similar to the ban imposed by the Clinton Administration that expired when the failed semi-auto ban ended in 2004, but more restrictive. The amendment would ban import, possession, and transfer of magazines that accept (or could be readily converted to accept) more than 10 rounds and that are manufactured after the enactment of the amendment.  The ban only excludes tubular magazines designed to accept .22-caliber ammunition. The amendment provides for fines and up to 10 years in prison for violations--double the possible prison term under the 1994-2004 ban.

Pre-ban magazines could be possessed by the current owner, but not transferred or imported--and even possession would carry severe risks. Because virtually no existing magazines bear any markings that show when they were made, the amendment would require that magazines made after the ban be marked to distinguish them from pre-ban magazines. However, the amendment's "grandfather clause" for possession of pre-ban magazines would only create an affirmative defense--forcing defendants to produce evidence that they possessed the magazines before the ban. This nearly impossible requirement is a major difference from the 1994 ban, which put the burden of proof on the government and established a legal presumption that unmarked magazines predated the ban.

During the 10 years the previous gun and magazine ban was in effect, it had
no impact on the criminal misuse of firearms. In the eight years since the ban expired, millions more magazines have been made and sold, while homicide and other violent crimes have continued to hit near-record lows each year. Magazines of this type are the overwhelming choice of state and local police departments nationwide, contradicting ban supporters' claim that such magazines are only suitable for use in crime.

When the Senate reconvenes in September, it could take up this bill once again--and of course, the same amendment could be offered on other bills as well.
That makes it critical for you and other concerned gun owners to contact your U.S. senators during the August recess and respectfully urge them to vote "no" on any magazine ban proposal.

You can find contact information for your U.S. Senators by using the "
Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org.  You may also contact your Senators by phone at (202) 224-3121.

If your lawmakers schedule any town hall meetings during the recess, please make plans to attend to voice your opposition to these bills.  For tips to maximize your effectiveness at these meetings,
please click here.

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