By Sari Horwitz
The Washington Post
With President Barack Obama's push for limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines stalled, some states are restricting their size in a shift that authorities say could dramatically reduce deaths in future mass shootings.
Congress is set to debate expanded background checks for gun purchasers in the coming days, but Obama's proposals to ban some assault-style weapons and impose a 10-round limit on magazines are unlikely to reach a vote.
Governors and legislatures across the country, however, are seizing the magazine issue. Rhode Island on Tuesday became the latest state to propose restrictions on high-capacity magazines. Connecticut and Maryland have banned the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. California prohibits the sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds and has proposed a ban on their possession. New York and Colorado also have adopted new restrictions.
Firearms experts say restrictions on magazines — detachable ammunition storage and feeding devices _might not prevent a fatal shooting but could prevent a shooting from turning into a massacre.
"They will prevent a killer from becoming a killing machine," said David Chipman, a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official who is a senior policy adviser for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. As a special agent arresting criminals, Chipman said, he routinely carried a firearm with a magazine that was limited to 15 rounds.
Gun rights advocates oppose the limits, saying Americans need the increased firepower to defend themselves against criminals.
Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents firearms manufacturers and retailers, said studies show that the now-expired federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines did not reduce crime. He also argues that it would take a shooter less than a second to change standard magazines. The idea that restrictions on large magazines would save lives in shootings such as the one in Newtown, Conn., is "speculative at best. What stopped Adam Lanza is that the police arrived and he killed himself," Keane said, referring to the gunman who killed 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn., in December.