9 Bullets

January 10, 2011 4:49 pm ET — Ari Rabin-Havt

Is there anything we could have done to even reverse a small part of Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson? The answer is sadly yes.

Had the Clinton-era assault weapons ban never expired it is likely that nine of the bullets that struck victims would never have been fired. As Salon reports:

According to police and media reports, the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, legally purchased a semiautomatic Glock 19 with a high-capacity magazine in November at a gun store in Tucson. Under the assault weapons ban, it was illegal to manufacture or sell new high-capacity magazines, defined as those that hold more than 10 rounds. The magazines used by Loughner had 31 rounds each, according to police.

If Loughner had been using a traditional magazine, "it would have drastically reduced the number of shots he got off before he had to pause, unload and reload -- and he could have been stopped," Daniel Vice, senior attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells Salon. 

The NRA put its muscle behind making sure the assault weapons ban expired, even though its renewal was supported by President Bush. The NRA even claimed "the magazine limit isn't a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes." Six years later, in a 2010 election questionnaire, the NRA asserted that the ban was based "largely on cosmetic features of the guns."     

While the assault weapons ban restricted the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds, Loughner was able to fire 31 rounds from his Glock 19, killing six people and injuring 13 others. The NRA owns nine bullets that struck innocent people (and 21 bullets altogether) that would have been outlawed if the ban was still in place.