Scripps investigation: Colorado shooting could stir gun control conversation

On Friday afternoon, Scripps journalists visited a Washington, D.C.-area gun shop to see how easy it would be to purchase a high-capacity ammunition magazine.

The shootings in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater Thursday night are likely to bring the issue of gun control and ownership of the magazines back into national debate.

The magazines are again legal to own in the United States after being banned during the Clinton administration and come in various capacities. In about 10 minutes, Scripps producer Chris Cantergiani bought a 33-round 9 mm magazine for a Glock handgun for $43 in Falls Church, Va.

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The high-capacity magazines, which require less reloading, were banned by legislation as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. But the ban expired during the George W. Bush administration in 2004.

Some states enacted their owns bans, including California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, according to research by National Conference of State Legislatures. Massachusetts' provision has come under legal dispute.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has defended the sales of the magazines, saying they are needed for self-defense.

Daniel Vice, senior attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said it's time to reinstate the magazine ban.

"Buying a weapon or ammo shouldn't be as easy as buying a loaf of bread," he said. "We need leadership. We need action to strengthen our gun laws to stop this from happening again."

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