Last month, James Eagan Holmes allegedly stood up in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire on the audience, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. A year and a half earlier, a different gunman opened fire in a Safeway parking lot in Tuscon, Arizona, wounding then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), killing federal Judge John Roll, and wounding or killing sixteen others. Both shooters used high-capacity magazines to maximize their ability to kill as many people in as short of a time as possible.
In the wake of these two high-profile mass killings, the Republican Party nonetheless decided to include a line in their party platform demanding that access to high-capacity magazines be protected:
Gun ownership is responsible citizenship, enabling Americans to defend their homes and communities. We condemn frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers and oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners. We oppose legislation that is intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the ill-considered Clinton gun ban.
The GOP’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is questionable at best. Even Justice Scalia acknowledged in DC v. Heller that bans on “dangerous and unusual weapons” are permissible, and high-capacity magazines almost certainly qualify as such. Unlike regular capacity handguns, which can be used for personal self-defense in the home, massive magazines like the 100 round drum used in the Aurora shooting serve little purpose other than to rain bullets on many, many victims. As one gun show attendee told ThinkProgress, “If ten rounds of ammunition can’t do the job you probably shouldn’t own a gun. I don’t want to live next to that guy.”