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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Vermont AG: High-Capacity Magazine Ban Should Pass, Will Be Hard To Enforce

A 10-round, left, and 15-round magazine, center, and a semi-automatic handgun.
Rich Pedroncelli
The bill being considered would ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds (allowing 15-round magazines for handguns,) like the one seen here, center, in this photo from 2017.

Attorney General TJ Donovan says a proposed ban on high-capacity magazines would be difficult to enforce. Donovan says he thinks lawmakers should adopt the provision.

Earlier this week, House lawmakers narrowly approved a measure that would ban the sale or purchase of high-capacity magazines in Vermont. The legislation defines high-capacity magazines as a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, (though that provision was amended Tuesday to allow for 15-round magazines for handguns.)

The legislation would not ban the possession of high-capacity magazines that are already in circulation in Vermont.

Attorney General TJ Donovan says that could make enforcement of the magazine ban complicated since police won’t necessarily know whether a high-capacity magazine was obtained before or after the ban went into effect.

“What this debate somewhat reminds of the texting while driving debate of a few years ago," Donovan said, "where myself and others were raising issues of enforceability about how we would enforce such a law.”

But despite those challenges, Donovan believes the ban on high-capacity magazines should pass. If nothing else, Donovan says the ban would likely halt retail sales of high capacity magazines.

Opponents of the magazine ban say the measure puts unconstitutional restrictions on gun ownership and does nothing to improve public safety.