Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have magazine-capacity restrictions that range from 10 to 20 rounds of ammunition. Politicians have passed magazine capacity bans because they believe these restrictions will curb the number of fatalities during mass shootings. The USCCA’s Mass Shootings Facts and Fiction page shows that this is a common gun myth. Whether it’s a state you live in or a state you plan to travel to, it’s critical that you understand which states have magazine-capacity limitations to keep you out of legal trouble.
Limiting Magazine Capacity
From 1994 to 2004, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was in force. The federal law defined a “large-capacity ammunition-feeding device” as a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It made any handguns with large-capacity magazines not lawfully possessed before the law’s enactment illegal.
Since that time, gun laws at the state level have banned large- or high-capacity magazines. Definitions vary, but several states identify magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, 15 rounds or 20 rounds of ammunition as “high-capacity magazines,” while other states do not regulate magazine sizes. However, the state laws vary in many ways, including whether possession of the magazines is banned or the sale, transfer and purchase (as well as manufacture, transportation, shipment or disposal) is illegal. There are also variations with how large- or high-capacity magazines are defined and whether the definition applies to long guns and/or handguns. State laws that ban the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines also vary in the approach to large-capacity magazines already in the possession of individuals at the time a ban was adopted.
Magazine Restrictions by State
The states listed have different caveats when it comes to their magazine bans. Read on to find out what they are.
The Golden State doesn’t allow more than 10 rounds. However, on Sep. 22, 2023, Judge Roger Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that California Penal Code Section 32310, which bans the possession of large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, violates the Second Amendment and is unconstitutional. On Oct. 9, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7-4 in favor of keeping the ban on large-capacity magazines in effect while the state appeals Judge Benitez’s ruling that it was unconstitutional. Stay tuned for updates on this case and its impact on the current magazine ban.
The Centennial State doesn’t allow more than 15 rounds. It is illegal to sell, transfer or possess a high-capacity magazine (defined as greater than 15 rounds for firearms other than shotguns) unless the individual owned the large-capacity magazine on July 1, 2013, and maintained continuous possession of it. The city of Boulder has Ordinance 5-8-2, which makes any ammunition-feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds illegal.
The Constitution State bans more than 10 rounds. Any person who distributes, imports into the state, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, or purchases a high-capacity magazine is criminally liable for a Class D felony. There are exemptions for, in part, a feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds of ammunition, or a magazine that is permanently inoperable. There is also a grandfather provision for high-capacity magazines possessed prior to January 1, 2014.
The First State restricts more than 17 rounds. However, members of the military, law enforcement officers and any individual who holds a concealed carry permit issued by the Superior Court under Section 1441 are exempt.
District of Columbia
Our nation’s capital doesn’t allow more than 10 rounds. The term “large-capacity ammunition-feeding device” is defined as a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has a capacity of or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
As of Jan. 10, 2023, the Prairie State doesn’t permit an individual to buy, sell or possess magazines of more than 10 rounds for rifles and magazines of more than 15 rounds for handguns.
The Aloha State doesn’t allow handgun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The Old Line State doesn’t doesn’t permit more than 10 rounds. A person may not manufacture, sell, offer for sale, purchase, receive or transfer a detachable magazine that has a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition for a firearm. However, there is an exemption for law enforcement officers (LEOs) and retired LEOs.
The Bay State doesn’t allow more than 10 rounds. It is illegal to sell, offer for sale, transfer or possess an assault weapon or a large-capacity feeding device that was not otherwise lawfully possessed on Sep. 13, 1994. “Large-capacity feeding device” means a fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip or similar device capable of accepting or that can be readily converted to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The Garden State bans more than 10 rounds. In 2018, the 3rd Circuit held that New Jersey could redefine “large-capacity ammunition magazine” as a box, drum, tube or other container which is capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly into a semi-automatic firearm. There are exemptions for authorized military and law enforcement and for firearms that have been registered by persons who participate in competitive shooting matches sanctioned by the director of Civilian Marksmanship of the U. S. Department of the Army.
The Empire State doesn’t allow more than seven to 10 rounds. New York prohibits the manufacture, transportation, disposal and possession of any large-capacity ammunition feeding device, which New York law defines as a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that:
- Has a capacity of or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition
- Is obtained after Jan. 15, 2013, and has a capacity of or can be readily restored or converted to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition
In 2022, the Ocean State passed a magazine ban that limits magazines over 10 rounds. Current owners of high-capacity magazines had until Jan. 1, 2023, to modify them, surrender them to police or transfer them to people in states where they are legal. Anyone still in possession of an outlawed magazine could face up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000.
The Green Mountain State doesn’t allow more than 15 rounds for handguns. In 2018, Vermont enacted legislation to generally restrict the sale, purchase, possession, manufacture and importation of large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices. However, there is a grandfather provision for large-capacity magazines that were lawfully possessed on or before April 11, 2018. There are various exemptions which include law enforcement, government officials and shooting competitions.
Also, non-resident may transport a high-capacity magazine into the state for the exclusive purpose of use in an organized shooting competition sponsored by an entity registered with the secretary of state. The device must be lawfully possessed under the laws of another state.
Old Dominion doesn’t allow more than 20 rounds for handguns. Although Virginia has no law restricting large-capacity ammunition magazines, Virginia law defines “assault firearm” as any semi-automatic centerfire rifle or pistol which expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock.
The Evergreen State prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, selling and offering for sale of rifle and pistol magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
*While the state of Ohio doesn’t restrict your magazine capacity, the city of Columbus passed a magazine ban limiting magazines capable of holding more than 30 rounds.
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