Not long ago, the big guns and high-capacity magazines [Melissa] Lulik and her friends use at ranges and in competitions weren’t so common among civilians.
Now, you can easily buy them online or in stores. You don’t need a license or a background check to buy one. Extended-capacity magazines — which hold 10 or more bullets and can be used with handguns as well as rifles — have become commonplace even as they’ve been banned in some places.
The privately owned companies that are the big players in the industry don’t report sales figures or how many of the magazines they produce. One indication of how ubiquitous they are comes from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group. In 2018, the latest data it has on them, the foundation estimated that 304 million detachable magazines were in circulation nationwide — including 80 million able to hold 30 or more rounds.
The magazines have become must-haves for many law-abiding gun owners, who often pair them with AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles. They also have become standard fare for criminals.
Large-capacity magazines are illegal to sell or possess in Chicago, which bans magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, and suburban Cook County, where the county’s ban starts after 10 rounds.
But they’re still easy to obtain. All it takes is driving to a store in a neighboring county that sells them.
A Chicago Sun-Times reporter was able to buy a 32-round magazine — for $37.99, plus tax — by going just outside the city to Hammond, Indiana. Seeing a Chicago address on an ID didn’t keep the store from selling the magazine or questioning whether it would be taken back to the city. Nor is a seller required to ask.
— Stephanie Zimmermann in How high-capacity magazines for weapons have become a mass-market item