James Holmes had a 100-round drum magazine clipped into the Smith & Wesson (SWHC)semi-automatic rifle police say he fired into a crowded Colorado theater.
Jared Lee Loughner was accused of killing six people last year and injuring more with help from a 33-round magazine, the bullet holder extending from the grip of his Glock 19.
High-capacity accessories like these would have been illegal a decade ago.
Today, there is little difficulty amassing a military-style arsenal since the 2004 lapse of the federal assault weapon ban. And tougher gun laws probably wouldn’t have prevented Holmes from killing, Colorado’s governor said yesterday.
“If there were no assault weapons available and no this or no that, this guy is going to find something, right?” ColoradoGovernor John Hickenlooper said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He’s going to know how to create a bomb.”
Debate over gun control in the U.S. regularly unfolds after high-profile shootings, such as the federal proposal to require background checks at gun shows after the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in 1999 and when firearms lobbyists pushed state legislatures to allow concealed weapons on college campuses after the massacre at Virginia Tech University in 2007. Still, other than a law aimed at improving state reporting for federal background checks, there have been no major U.S. gun regulations since the 1994 assault weapon ban prohibited 19 military-style guns and magazines holding more than 10 bullets.
President Barack Obama promised to reinstate the ban during his 2008 campaign and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney signed an assault weapon ban as Massachusetts governor. The federal ban had mixed results, leading to less use of assault weapons in crimes and greater utilization of other firearms, according to a 2004 Department of Justice report.
Existing checks and regulations failed to flag Holmes — accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others in the Aurora, Colorado, theater — for state or federal authorities because he avoided buying handguns within five days at the same store and never committed prior offenses that would have raised an alarm during required background checks, according to a federal official who asked for anonymity and wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Use of high-capacity magazines and avoiding state and federal checks “is a worst-case scenario for gun-rights defenders,” said Richard Feldman, a former political organizer for the Fairfax, Virginia-based National Rifle Association, a 4- million member gun-rights organization.
“It’s not that the system didn’t work,” Feldman said. “He wasn’t in the system.”
Elected officials including New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, said yesterday the ban should be re-instated.
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