To the Editor

Again this session a group of progressive Democrats led by Rep. Aaron Rugenberg has introduced the so-called high capacity magazine bill (H5155). Co-sponsors include newly-elected progressive Democrats Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, Susan Donovan and Jason Knight. Progressives seem obsessed with gun control.

The bill would forbid the manufacture, sale or possession of any detachable “ammunition feeding device” that can hold more than ten rounds. Anyone in possession of such a device or components thereof including licensed firearms dealers would have 120 days after the bill is signed by the governor to remove the high capacity magazine from the state; sell it to a licensed dealer; or surrender it to a law enforcement agency for destruction. 

This provision is of dubious constitutionality because it represents government-ordered confiscation of private property without compensation –a violation of the Fifth Amendment. Neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts already have restrictions –not a ban- on high capacity magazines. Since there would be no market for these magazines dealers would not buy them and firearms dealers would have to dispose of their inventory of “hi-cap mags” without compensation.

Unexplained is why ten rounds represent “high-capacity”. Colorado decided the magic number is fifteen and New York says it is seven. In the wake of the Newtown tragedy Connecticut allowed residents owning a hi-cap mag to register it with the State Police with the proviso that they would not load more than ten rounds in them. 

I suppose a terrorist or mentally ill person intent on shooting up a school, shopping mall or movie theater would not load more than ten bullets in his gun because that would be against the law.

There are technical problems with H5155 was well. It exempts a hi-cap mag that has been “permanently altered so it cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds”, whatever that means. Also exempt are “.22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device(s)” which is ambiguous since there is no “.22 caliber tube ammunition” of which I am aware. 

Finally, the bill exempts “A tubular magazine that is contained in a lever action firearm”. However, there are .22 caliber bolt and pump-action and semi-automatic rifles that fed by an attached tubular magazine that holds more than ten bullets. Unexplained is why only lever-action rifles would be exempt especially since there are several lever-actions holding more than ten rounds that are chambered in calibers much more powerful than .22 Long Rifle.

The penalty for violation is a felony subject to no more than ten years in prison. So an otherwise law-abiding, tax-paying citizen who keeps a high-cap mag of can be put away for ten years. 

The anti-gun crowd is cleverly marketing this high-capacity magazine ban by noting that waterfowl hunters are limited to three rounds and deer hunters to five. This flawed analogy ignores the fact that the Second Amendment of the federal and Section 22 of Article I of the state Constitutions have nothing to do with hunting. The “right to bear arms” is based on a right to self defense and defense of the nation.


Richard J. August

North Kingstown

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(2) comments

jim smith

The Second Amendment says nothing about the types or capabilities of weapons. When it was written every weapon was a weapon of war and the militia was equally matched with the regulars. For instance, I’ve never seen it said that the regulars could carry 30 lead balls but the militia could only carry 10. In addition, some say the militia had better capabilities than the regulars did because many militia members had Kentucky rifles as opposed to smooth bore muskets. The real purpose of the Second Amendment is clearly stated in the preamble to the Bill of Rights - specifically “The convention of a number of states having at the time of their adopting of the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse, of its powers that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added”. If there was a disparity in capabilities between the militia and the regulars, it would be pretty hard to deter or prevent a “misconstruction or abuse” of government powers - so in reality, the citizen militia of today should have the same firearms as the current US military. Unfortunately we are no longer equally matched because we have let our gun rights be eroded by buying into this notion if we just compromise to accommodate the people who - for whatever reason - don’t like guns they will quit trying to take away our gun rights. History has shown that no matter how much we compromise, it’s never enough so we need to stop compromising.


The right of a citizen to bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or the State, is absolute. He does not derive it from the State government. It is one of the high powers" delegated directly to the citizen, and `is excepted out of the general powers of government.' A law cannot be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law, and independent of the lawmaking power." [Cockrum v. State, 24 Tex. 394, at 401-402 (1859)]

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