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The morning after a gunman killed two people and wounded a third at a Clackamas mall, state Sen. Ginny Burdick sent an email to colleagues saying that she planned to introduce legislation to limit the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The shooter, according to news reports, had been able to fire multiple rounds before his gun jammed.
"Even hunters are restricted from using large capacity magazines: there is a five cartridge limit for large game hunting, and three for bird hunting," wrote the Portland Democrat, a longtime advocate of gun control. "If we limit capacity for hunting animals, why do we not extend that principle to guns that may harm our neighbors?"
Lobbyists for gun shop owners and firearms advocacy groups immediately pounced on her idea, saying that a prohibition on magazine capacity would not stop future shootings. They called Burdick’s proposal terrible, and opportunistic too.
It’s not the job of PolitiFact Oregon to make a ruling on firearms regulations or policy. So we won’t. But we were curious about the numbers in Burdick’s statement and felt it appropriate to check: Does Oregon have a five-cartridge limit for large game hunters, and three for birds?
We turned to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which licenses and regulates hunting and fishing on public and private land. Agency spokesman David Lane confirmed that the state senator is correct. There are limits, after which the hunter or shooter would need to reload cartridges or shots.
"It is both for social and for biological reasons," Lane said. "The social being that when somebody takes aim at an animal, they use their shots judiciously … they’re not indiscriminately shooting with the possibility of hitting other animals. It’s a wounded loss issue."
Now, what Burdick is proposing regarding magazines is not new. We had a federal weapons ban for a decade before it expired in 2004. Part of that law limited magazines to 10 rounds.
Burdick told PolitiFact Oregon that a shooter can be taken down in the few seconds needed to reload. "It’s simple. It’s clear, and I think it would do some good," she said of her proposal.
We could stop here, but we know you love information as much as we do. So we reached out to Kevin Starrett, as well. He is executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, a group that calls itself Oregon’s "only no compromise gun lobby."
In a spirited interview, he batted the 10-round limit as arbitrary and said reloading magazines can be quick and easy. He said there are countless reasons why a person would want a 30-round magazine, including for sport shooting and to defend themselves and others when trouble breaks. Like someone trying to stop another school or shopping mall shooting. Would you want a limit on rounds then? he asked rhetorically.
That’s a question for policy makers, not fact checkers. There are limits on how hunters shoot wildlife and game in Oregon, even if there are people who think that should have no bearing on the right to bear arms.
Burdick’s statement is accurate. We rate her statement True.
The Oregonian, "Clackamas Town Center shooting: Oregon lawmaker launches effort to ban high-capacity gun clips in wake of shootings,"Dec 12, 2012
The Oregonian, "Clackamas Town Center shooting: AR-15 grows in public popularity," Dec. 12, 2012
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Regulations webpage
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Weapons Restrictions webpage
Email and interviews with David Lane, spokesman, ODFW, Dec. 26, 2012
Interview with Kevin Starrett, executive director, Oregon Firearms Federation, Dec. 26, 2012
Interview with Sen. Ginny Burdick, Dec. 27, 2012
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