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Magazine Capacity Laws By State 2021

Gun laws are mandated by state-level governments; therefore, they vary state-to-state. State gun laws include regulations on purchasing firearms, concealed carry permits, and ammunition.

A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device attached to a repeating firearm. Magazines come in various shapes and sizes and can be either removable or integral to the firearm.

Large-capacity magazines, also known as high-capacity magazines, are typically magazines with a high number of rounds of ammunition and are usually associated with semi-automatic assault weapons or machine guns. Large-capacity magazines typically have ten or more rounds of ammunition, although this number is arbitrary and not universally agreed upon. The term "high capacity magazine" is a minority term, in the sense that a minority of states consider anything over 10 rounds to be "high capacity."

Large-capacity magazines enable a shooter to fire repeatedly without taking the time to reload, increasing the shooter's ability to injure and kill large numbers of people in a short amount of time. Large-capacity magazines have been used in most of the ten of the deadliest U.S. mass shootings in the last ten years.

For example, the Las Vegas shooter in 2017 was able to shoot 90 rounds within ten seconds without having to reload. He was using an assault rifle with a bump stock and large-capacity magazine. The shooter killed 50 people and injured hundreds.

In 1994, Congress adopted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which banned the manufacture, transfer, and possession of semi-automatic weapons and made it unlawful to transfer or possess large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. This act expired in 2004 but did work to reduce the use of large-capacity magazines in crime down to 10%. This number climbed back to 22% by 2010.

The federal ban on large-capacity magazines has ended. However, nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning large-capacity magazines.

These states are:

Each of these nine states has its own specific regulations regarding capacity limit, prohibited acts of large-capacity magazines, and the treatment of pre-owned large-capacity magazines. For example, in Colorado, the legal magazine capacity is 15 rounds. It is illegal to sell, transfer, or possess large-capacity magazines, and pre-owned large-capacity magazines are grandfathered (allowed).

Some states and the District of Columbia do not allow pre-owned large-capacity magazines to be grandfathered. Large-capacity magazines that were owned before the law was put in place are still illegal.

Magazine Capacity Laws By State 2021

All of these jurisdictions except Colorado and Vermont also ban assault weapons. LCAM stands for large capacity ammunition magazines.
State Legal Magazine Capacity Limit Prohibited Acts on LCAMs Treatment of Pre-Owned LCAMs 2021 Pop.
California10 roundsManufacture, importation, keeping for sale, offering and exposing for sale, giving, lending, and possessionNot allowed by a law that has not yet gone into effect.39,613,493
Colorado15 roundsSale, transfer, and possessionAllowed (“grandfathered”)5,893,634
Connecticut10 roundsDistribution, importation, keeping for sale, offering and exposing for sale, purchase, and possessionAllowed but must be registered.3,552,821
Hawaii10 roundsManufacture, possession, sale, barter, trade, gift, transfer, and acquisitionNot allowed1,406,430
Maryland10 roundsManufacture, sale, offering for sale, purchase, receipt, and transferAllowed (like all LCAMs. There is no ban on possession.)6,065,436
Massachusetts10 roundsSale, offering for sale, transfer, and possessionAllowed (“grandfathered”)6,912,239
New Jersey10 roundsManufacture, transportation, shipment, sale, disposal, and possessionNot allowed (Certain firearms with magazines capable of holding 11-15 rounds may be registered until July 13, 2019)8,874,520
New York10 roundsManufacture, transportation, disposal, and possessionNot allowed19,299,981
Vermont10 rounds for Long Guns; 15 rounds for handgunsManufacture, sale, offering for sale, purchase, receipt, transfer, and possessionAllowed (“grandfathered”)623,251

Magazine Capacity Laws By State 2021