Magazine Capacity & The Law
Depending on what state you live in, just because you have a firearm doesn’t mean you can have a magazine that holds the number of rounds you want.
Magazine capacity is regulated in some states, and is consistently the subject of potential gun control legislation.
The earliest history of firearms in the United States featured technology that only allowed for single-shot firearms.
Starting in the 1850’s, commercial breakthroughs in technology allowed guns to hold more than 10 rounds. The end of the 19th century featured a plethora of 11+ magazine rifles and carbines from Winchester, Colt, and more.
After WWII, hundreds of thousands of M1 Carbines were purchased, with a standard 15 round magazine. The AR-15 became available to consumers in 1963, first with a standard 20-round magazine before increasing to a 30-round capacity as a standard.
It took until 1935 for a handgun to enter the market and impact U.S. sales with a magazine of more than 10 rounds—Browning’s Hi-Power in 1935, holding 13 rounds.
As far as legal restrictions, in 1927 the state of Michigan banned guns that were able to fire more than 16 times without a reload. In the same year, Rhode Island implemented a 12-round limit. The year 1932 saw the District of Columbia ban any magazine of more than 10 rounds. That ban exists to this day in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps the most prominent legislation to affect magazine capacity was realized with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994. Among other firearm regulations, the statute made it illegal to transfer or possess a variety of large capacity ammunition feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition (not lawfully possessed on or before the law was passed).
These restrictions were no longer effective when a sunset provision caused the act to expire in 2004.
But you are probably wondering what states have magazine capacity restrictions—especially the states you live in or travel to.
STATES WITH MAGAZINE CAPACITY RESTRICTIONS
(As of August 2022)
Magazines holding more than 10 rounds are banned in California.
Colorado bans magazines holding more than 15 rounds.
Magazines of more than 10 rounds are banned in Connecticut.
No detachable magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Detachable magazines are restricted to 10 rounds in Maryland.
Generally, magazines of over 10 rounds are banned, but with a Massachusetts License to Carry, a magazine of over 10 rounds may be purchased provided it was manufactured before September 13, 1994.
It’s against the law to own a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds in New Jersey.
New York has banned magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
No more than 10 rounds for long guns, 15 rounds for handguns.
On July 1, 2022, Washington passed a law restricting magazines to a maximum capacity of 10 rounds. Magazines owned before passage of the law are not affected.
District Of Columbia
Only 10 rounds in a magazine since 1976.
Laws and regulations change, so keep on the lookout for new legislation and regulations that may affect your ability to carry your firearms with the proper amount of ammunition to keep within the law.
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