‘A Killing Machine’: Half of All Mass Shooters Used High-Capacity Magazines
As lawmakers across the country and in the nation’s capital debate possible restrictions on high-capacity magazines, one question emerges: Are these ammunition feeding devices, which allow a shooter to fire many times without reloading, in fact commonly used by mass killers? We examined the data from Mother Jones’ continuing investigation into mass shootings and found that high-capacity magazines have been used in at least 31 of the 62 cases we analyzed. A half-dozen of these crimes occurred in the last two years alone. (With some of the cases we studied, it remains unclear whether high capacity magazines were used; for more details, jump to our data set below.)
In the shooting that injured Rep. Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Jared Loughner emptied a 33-round magazine in 30 seconds, killing 6 and injuring 13. Inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes used 40- and 100-round magazines to injure and kill an unprecedented 70 victims. At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Adam Lanza used high-capacity magazines to fire upwards of 150 bullets as he slaughtered 20 kids and 6 adults.
“It turns a killer into a killing machine,” says David Chipman, who served for 25 years as a special agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Outlawing high capacity magazines won’t prevent gun crimes from happening, Chipman notes, but might well reduce the carnage: “Maybe three kids get killed instead of 20.”