Menendez, 18 Senators Introduce ‘Keep Americans Safe Act’ in Wake of Las Vegas Shooting
Menendez, 18 Senators Introduce ‘Keep Americans Safe Act’ in Wake of Las Vegas Shooting
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today was joined by 18 Senate colleagues in introducing the Keep Americans Safe Act, common sense public safety legislation banning the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting en masse. In what is now the deadliest mass shooting in American history, 59 people were killed and 527 injured after a gunman opened fire on Las Vegas concert-goers. According to investigators, the alleged shooter was in possession of more than 23 firearms, including several high-powered assault rifles, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
“How many lives need to be senselessly taken across our nation at the hands of a gun before the United States Congress wakes up and takes common sense steps to protect the public’s safety,” said Sen. Menendez. “What happened in Las Vegas is an unspeakable tragedy, but it is inexcusable for this Congress to remain silent in its aftermath. When 49 people in an Orlando nightclub were brutally slaughtered, it was time to act. When 20 young, defenseless children in a Connecticut elementary school were tragically gunned down, it was time to act. It was time to act after every mass shooting in America, and it’s time to act now after its worst. Large-capacity magazines have one singular purpose—to kill as many people as possible. They have no place in a civil society and must be banned to protect a weapon of mass murder getting in the hands of a killer.”
The Keep Americans Safe Act is cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Sen. Menendez introduced a similar measure, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, in 2015.
“There’s no good reason that high-capacity magazines, in some instances capable of storing as many as 100 rounds, should be available to the public,” said Sen. Booker. “Our country is a model for others in so many ways, but not when it comes to our broken gun laws. We must do the things that are necessary to make us safer and this bill is an obvious step in the right direction. Every day we fail to enact common sense gun safety measures brings death, injury, and heartbreak to countless American families and communities.”
“Limiting the size of magazines can give law enforcement an opportunity to stop a shooter who is on a rampage,” Sen. Kaine said. “We should pass this commonsense bill and other measures to curb deadly gun violence like the tragic shooting in Las Vegas this week. For too long, Congress has don’t nothing to stop these horrific events. We must do better.”
“Large-capacity magazines are not needed for sport shooting or to hunt deer; they are only meant to kill people – and they do far too often in this country. We need to do everything in our power to stop the carnage of these shootings. There are common sense steps we can take now, steps that are supported by an overwhelming number of Americans, including gun-owners, that can help break the cycle of callous disregard for the victims of gun violence,” said Sen. Cardin. “More talk and more prayers will not save lives. Only action and real changes in our federal and state laws can.”
“Large-capacity magazines exist for a single purpose: inflicting the most lethal damage possible in the shortest period of time,” Sen. Blumenthal said. There is no rational reasoning behind legalizing access to this degree of deadliness. It is long past time we ban large capacity ammunition. It is the very least we can do to keep our children, coworkers, and neighbors safe.”
“In the wake of the shooting in Las Vegas, our country has united to grieve the lives we’ve lost. But it’s also time for us to work together to stop the terrible toll of gun violence in our country,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “We need to take common sense steps – like prohibiting large capacity magazines. Our thoughts and prayers won’t end the bloodshed and save lives. It’s time to put politics aside and take action to stop this epidemic of gun violence.”
“Like many Americans, I was horrified that one individual could inflict so much carnage in Las Vegas this past weekend, and that he could do it in a matter of minutes,” Sen. Carper said. “Large-capacity magazines make dangerous weapons even more deadly, and we’ve had to endure the loss of too many innocent lives because of their use. It’s time for Congress to use common sense to update our gun laws, and restoring the ban on these dangerous devices is an important step toward much-needed reform.”
“The higher the bullet count, the higher the death count. Large capacity magazines are about causing mass carnage. We need to end the sale of these weapons of mass destruction before any more tragedies occur,” said Sen. Markey.
“What happened in Las Vegas is a national tragedy—and one that we seem to keep repeating. In Las Vegas, the killer was able to wound or kill nearly 600 people in less than ten minutes. We must do everything we can to prevent people from being able to accomplish so much destruction in such a short period of time,” Sen. Sanders said. “While it is too late for the victims in Las Vegas, Newtown and Charleston, it is not too late to prevent the next set of innocent Americans from becoming victims.”
“Congress must finally stand up to the gun industry and protect Americans from horrific gun violence like we saw in Las Vegas,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “These weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible as rapidly as possible, and that includes high-capacity magazines that let violent killers fire dozens of rounds without having to frequently stop and reload. We must take gun violence as seriously as we take the threat of terrorism, and I urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation to keep our country safe.”
“I urge my colleagues to join us in putting an end to the epidemic of mass shootings in our country,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono. “The Keeping Americans Safe Act is a commonsense bill that will help address one part of this senseless violence. Until we take action, it’s only a matter of time until the next tragedy.”
Full text of the Keep Americans Safe Act can be downloaded here. In addition to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, the bill includes the following provisions:
- Provides limited exceptions for devices possessed before enactment, for certain current and former law enforcement personnel, for certain Atomic Energy personnel and purpose, for tubular devices that can only accept .22 rimfire ammunition, and for certain authorized testing or experimentation;
- Modifies the high-capacity definition to prevent coupled or joined magazines;
- Authorizes a buyback programs for high capacity magazines using Byrne JAG grants;
- Requires devices manufactured after enactment to have conspicuous serial numbers and date of manufacture to help law enforcement identify restricted magazines;
- Harmonizes forfeiture provisions for magazines with current law; currently FBI and ATF can seize and destroy certain firearms but not high capacity magazines.
“Large capacity magazines have no place in our communities. Hunters don't use them. Killers use them to hurt as many people as they can, as fast as they can. Large capacity magazines are a threat to all of us, and to our often outgunned law enforcement community. That is why Brady is proud to support this legislation,” said Brady Campaign Co-President Avery Gardiner.
In addition to Las Vegas, high-capacity magazines have been used in some of the country’s most horrific mass shootings:
- In Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen fired bullets from a 30-round assault rifle and a 17-round semi-automatic pistol into a crowded Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 and injuring more than 50 others in what was then the worst mass shooting in American history.
- In San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2015, armed with assault rifles and other weapons, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik stormed a social services center where Farook worked and fatally shot 14 people and injured at least 17 others.
- In Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza used 30-round magazines in the mass shooting that took the lives of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When Adam Lanza was reloading his gun, eleven students managed to escape.
- In Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes used a 100-round drum magazine and a 40-round magazine in the shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded. His 100-round magazine jammed during the shooting, preventing even more casualties.
- In Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011, Jared Loughner used two 31-round magazines and two 15-round magazines in the shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 more. Loughner was tackled to the ground while changing magazines and is one of many shootings – including the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting and the 1998 Thurston High School shooting – that ended when the gunman attempted to reload his gun.
- In Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan used 30- and 20-round magazines in the shooting that killed 13 people and wounded 34 more. The gun-shop owner who sold the extended magazines quotes Hasan as saying he didn’t like spending time loading magazines.
Sen. Menendez has a long history of supporting common sense gun safety measures, including closing background check loopholes, banning bump stock devices, and preventing those on the Terror Watch List from purchasing guns and explosives. He cosponsored measures to ban large-capacity magazines in the 112th, 113th and 114th Congresses.