“We have no more idea than the man in the moon how many are out there,” said Jim Pasco, a former ATF official who is the executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police. “They are no more regulated than a Q-tip, and they historically haven’t been, so how could we know how many there are?”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who is sponsoring legislation to limit magazines to 10 rounds, said that what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown shows that a limit would make a difference.
“The killer at Newtown shot 154 bullets in less than five minutes because he had numerous magazines with 30 rounds each,” Blumenthal said. “He was able to kill more people more quickly. When he had to change magazines after the first 30 rounds, children were able to escape from the classroom. The more time the shooter has to change magazines, the more people can escape and the more opportunities there are to stop him.”
James Holmes was armed with an assault-style weapon equipped with a drum-type magazine that held 100 rounds when he killed 12 people inside an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July. Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, who killed 13 at Fort Hood in 2009, was armed with magazines that had 20-round and 30-round capacity.
In Tucson in January 2011, Jared Loughner used a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and a large-capacity magazine to fire 33 bullets in 15 seconds, killing six people and wounding 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz). Christina Green, 9, was shot after the 12th bullet. Loughner’s massacre ended only when he stopped to reload.
“He fumbled and dropped his next, fully loaded magazine, creating a moment for a brave bystander to tackle him,” said Pia Carusone, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group created by Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.
In the next few weeks, Kelly and Giffords plan to urge legislators in several other states to restrict the size of magazines.
Tom Diaz, a former senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, said high-capacity magazines have nothing to do with hunting.
“To kill a deer, you are only interested in taking one or two shots,” said Diaz, author of a new book, “The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It.” “A 100-pound drum is not for sporting purposes. These high-capacity magazines were designed to shoot people on the battlefield, where the more bullets you put out over close to medium range, the more damage you are likely to inflict. They call it the bullet hose.”
Veronique Pozner, the mother of 6-year-old Noah, the youngest victim in the Newtown massacre, said she does not want to sugarcoat what happened to her son, who was shot with a semiautomatic rifle and a high-capacity magazine.
“We all saw how beautiful he was,” Pozner told an online publication, describing Noah in his coffin. “He had thick, shiny hair, beautiful long eyelashes that rested on his cheeks. He looked like he was sleeping.”
“But the reality of it was under the cloth he had covering his mouth there was no mouth left,” she said. “His jaw was blown away. I just want people to know the ugliness of it so we don’t talk about it abstractly, like these little angels just went to heaven. No. They were butchered. They were brutalized. And that is what haunts me at night.”
Julie Tate and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.