There are three problems that occur to me. One is that homemade magazines are easy to assemble; it’s just a box with a spring. The second is there is not any effective way to confiscate maybe 25 million high-capacity magazines that are now in circulation. And third, a significant number of existing firearms are configured for 12- to 19-round magazines. So I think a ban on any size of less than 20 rounds would meet with great, great resistance. All of that said, I don’t share the NRA’s view that we shouldn’t consider a ban on high-capacity magazines. I think a ban on magazines of 20 rounds and above seems to me to be reasonable.
On banning ‘assault weapons’:
We had an assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004. The New York Times, after the ban expired, reported that despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, expiration of the assault weapons ban has not set off a sustained surge in sales or caused any noticeable increase in gun crime. There are, of course, millions of these so-called assault weapons, and they’re used by millions of Americans for all sorts of things, including hunting, self-defense, target shooting, even the Olympics. Criminals use handguns because assault weapons are expensive and they’re difficult to conceal.
Now, [the Supreme Court] said that the Second Amendment would likely pose no barrier to outlawing weapons that are not in common use and are especially dangerous. And we have proof of that because fully automated weapons, like machine guns, have been essentially banned since 1934.
I don’t consider myself an expert on the technical features of firearms, and so I’m not prepared to say exactly which weapons would go on the list and which shouldn’t, but I think experts should be able to come up with a pretty good list — obviously not needed for self-defense, obviously dangerous, not in common use. And that would be the new assault weapons ban.
On the ‘slippery slope’:
The NRA and the gun lobby had argued that each new gun regulation was a step down this slippery slope, leading ultimately to confiscation. . . . That clearly is what some radicals among gun controllers had in mind. But this is a new environment now. I think [the Supreme Court’s decisions] have taken the slippery slope argument pretty much off the table because [the court] has now established — for the first time ever — some hard-and-fast rules. There’s some wiggle room in those rules, to be sure. But at least we do know now that there’s an individual right to defend yourself, and a wholesale ban on a type of weapon that does have self-defense utility and that is in common use is not going to be permitted by the Supreme Court.