The sale of the high-capacity magazine used by a gunman who killed at least 12 people at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, late Wednesday is prohibited under California law and possessing it would have been illegal, too, by a state law currently blocked by a federal court.
Sheriff Geoff Dean said the gunman, who was also killed, was armed with a Glock 21 – a .45-caliber, semi-automatic handgun.
“The weapon was designed in California to hold a magazine of 10 rounds and one in the chamber, but he had an extended magazine on it,” Dean said.
Dean did not specify the size of the extended magazine, but most high-capacity magazines for the gun that are for sale online hold 26 rounds. “Drum” magazines that are compatible with the handgun can hold as many as 40 rounds.
California has outlawed the sale of magazines larger than 10 rounds since 2000 but owners who owned larger ones before the law took effect were permitted to keep them.
In 2016, California voters approved a proposition in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, which made it illegal to possess magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Gun control advocates argued the previous law was not effective because there was no way to determine when or where a high-capacity magazine was purchased. Those whose magazines previously had been “grandfathered” were required to alter them or get rid of them.
Before the new law could take effect, it was blocked by a federal judge after a lawsuit by the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the state National Rifle Association affiliate, argued the law was unconstitutional. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction pending the resolution of the lawsuit.
Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the magazine used in Thousand Oaks was probably obtained illegally because its unlikely the 28-year-old gunman purchased before the 2000 law was passed.
“It just confirms the serious safety risks that these magazines entail,” Skaggs said. “When someone is forced to stop and reload it creates an opportunity to escape. It creates an opportunity to try and disable the shooter. Thats why restricting access to these is so important in terms of making mass shootings less deadly.”
Skaggs said it is no single gun law can prevent every mass shooting and that it is impossible to know if the shooter would have obtained a high-capacity magazine with or without the “unfortunate” court injunction.
But he said that if the law prohibiting high-capacity magazines is “enforced and put into effect, its going to reduce the number of potentially dangerous shooters who have access to these types of devices, and in the long run will save lives.”
Gun rights activists argue that the government cannot prevent all acts of violence and that people are safer when they exercise, rather than restrict, the Second Amendment.
“Once more we see the devastating effects of the illusion of safety that gun control laws and policies are founded upon,” the Firearms Policy Coalition said in a statement Thursday. “Gun control proponents like Gavin Newsom, Californias incoming governor, are irrationally committed to passing more and more laws that just do not prevent violent people from doing evil things.”
He died a hero: Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus among those killed in Thousand Oaks bar shooting
California has some of the more restrictive gun laws in the country and federal law is somewhat stricter when it comes to handguns.
Anyone who buys or is given a handgun in California has to get a state-issued firearm safety certificate, which comes with a fee of up to $25 and must be renewed every five years.
In California, even “private party transfers” – such as those at gun shows – must involve a licensed firearms dealer, unless the person is giving or selling the gun to a family member.
Concealed carry permits in California can be issued by a sheriff, if a person can show that they need one. The state does not honor carry permits issued by other jurisdictions. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from California residents challenging the law.
There is also a minimum 10-day waiting period and in addition to the federally-mandated background check, the California Department of Justice is required to check its own records and records from the Department of State Hospitals, according to the Giffords Law Center.
Gabby Giffords, a former Democratic member of the House of Representatives, was shot along with 18 others while meeting with constituents in 2011. The gunman in that attack used a Glock 19 pistol and carried two 33-round magazines, according to The Washington Post.
Under federal law, a person has to be 21 to buy a handgun from a dealer and 18 to get a handgun from an individual. Rifles and shotguns can be sold to people 18 and over, and unlicensed individuals can give them to people of any age, according to the Giffords Law Center.
Under the 1968 Gun Control Act, anytime someone buys two or more handguns within five days, it must be reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Because of concerns about guns being run into Mexico, multiple rifle sales must also be reported to the ATF in the four southern border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. That policy expires in 2021. Outside of those states, multiple rifle or shotgun sales in other states do not have to be reported, regardless of the number.
“California has among the strongest gun laws in the nation and as a result, thankfully, incidents like this occur much less frequently in California than they do in states with more permiss gun laws,” Skaggs said,
“But as today made abundantly clear, as San Bernardino made abundantly clear, even in California the risk of this kind of horrific shooting is unavoidable.”
The Los Angeles community is reeling after a gunman killed 12 people in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Wednesday night after opening fire at a crowded country and western bar. Condolences have poured in from all angles, and Los Angeles teams and athletes have released statements and tweeted about the shooting.
One of those teams is the Los Angeles Rams, who said on Thursday morning: “The Los Angeles Rams organization is heartbroken by the horrific shooting that took place last night in our community of Thousand Oaks. Our thoughts and prayers are with the the victims, their families and our entire community.”
Several Rams players also tweeted their reactions, including Jared Goff, Andrew Whitworth, Johnny Hekker and Cooper Kupp.
Heartbroken for our community. Thinking about everyone involved as well as friends and family of the victims. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers
Heart broken this morning! Im just sorry to those affected. I dont have words that I feel can help. But I promise to find a way to help support our community through this tragedy! 🙏🏼!
Praying comfort and healing to those affected by this senseless shooting. Thank you to the first responders who put their lives on the line to protect and serve us every day.Thousand Oaks is my home; I will do everything in my power to help those in need of support.
Heartbroken. Thoughts and prayers are with the people of this community, and those that have lost loved ones.
The Los Angeles Lakers also made a statement on the shooting, saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, families and those affected by the terrible tragedy last night in Thousand Oaks, CA.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, families and those affected by the terrible tragedy last night in Thousand Oaks, CA.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones last night in Thousand Oaks, CA!!!! 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾💯 #LoveIsStrongerThanHate💪🏾
Waking up to evil & hate sucks! Praying for the families effected by the shooting in Thousand Oaks this morning.
And the Los Angeles Kings chimed in, saying: “The entire LA Kings organization is deeply shaken by this senseless and horrific act on one of our local communities. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We wish all the people of Thousands Oaks strength and peace and we share in their sadness and grief.”
The entire LA Kings organization is deeply shaken by this senseless and horrific act on one of our local communities. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We wish all the people of Thousands Oaks strength and peace and we share in their sadness and grief.
Our thoughts are with the victims and families affected by the tragic shooting in Thousand Oaks last night.
Expect to see continued shows of support from the Rams, Chargers, Lakers and Kings as their seasons progress. For more on this developing story, follow along with updates from CBS News.