Op-Ed

After Las Vegas, we must ban high-capacity magazines

llison Easterbrook pauses at a memorial for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.
llison Easterbrook pauses at a memorial for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting. AP

Every day, pundits, politicians and newsmakers try to predict what’s next in American politics. Horse races, winners and losers and “top things you need to know.”

After the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, prognosticators had an unfair advantage. We’ve learned from our country’s recent history of gun violence what happens after. What we haven’t learned is how to stop repeating the cycle.

This week, I joined Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and several of my colleagues from the Nevada Congressional delegation — Reps. Dina Titus, Ruben Kihuen, and Jacky Rosen — to work toward interrupting the tragic cycle of inaction.

We introduced the Keep Americans Safe Act to ban high-capacity magazines.

Like bump fire stocks, high-capacity magazines are designed to make killing more efficient, and not much else.

As a hunter I met this week put it, if you take more than one shot at a deer you’ll be getting the “white tail salute.”

And even before the unspeakable violence tore through his city last week, Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said, “I’m a very avid hunter, I was in the military myself, and there’s no need to have a high-capacity magazine for any practical reason.”

As we emerge from our grief after the new “worst mass-shooting in American history”— a title unwillingly claimed by the city of Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting just over a year ago — we are committed to finding policy proposals that the vast majority of Americans will support to help stop this unacceptable violence.

Combined with bump fire stocks, high-capacity magazines allowed the Las Vegas shooter to kill 58 concertgoers in a matter of minutes.

But the massive scale of violence extends so much further. High-capacity magazines make killers capable of firing dozens of bullets before reloading. In the recordings captured by victims in Las Vegas, you can hear the killer fire 90 rounds in just ten seconds.

Bullets rained down on a crowd of 22,000 injuring over 500 people.

Limiting magazines to ten rounds would be a small step toward safety. It would also be popular.

Banning high-capacity magazines is supported by 72 percent of Americans, including law enforcement officers, military veterans and gun safety advocates.

We admit that this legislation won’t fix everything and won’t end gun violence. It won’t address the majority of the 33,000 lives lost to gun violence every year in this country, half of which are suicides.

But without 30-round magazines, mass killers would be forced to spend time reloading, precious time that could allow a victim to escape or law enforcement to intervene.

If that time could help save at least one life, it would be worth it.

We have already progressed through much of the usual cycle after Las Vegas. The headlines followed the same familiar form: this many killed, that many injured.

But the victims of gun violence are innocent Americans who deserve better. The families they have left behind deserve better. And every American today deserves better, too.

We cannot allow ourselves to become numb, and we cannot allow ourselves to remember the victims of gun violence as mere statistics.

Will this cycle be different?

Banning high-capacity magazines is not a bold new idea. These devices were illegal until 2004 when Congress allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to lapse. That was a mistake, and it’s time to correct it by renewing restrictions on these devices which have no purpose other than highly efficient murder.

It’s time for Congress to do something about gun violence.

“It’s time to convert all of our thoughts and prayers into action.

It’s time to overwhelm the gun lobby and my colleagues beholden to them with passionate common sense.

Let’s pass the Keep Americans Safe Act and ban high capacity magazines.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, (D- ) represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.

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