Last night, Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4) introduced new legislation to make the sale of ammunition safer for law-abiding Americans who are sick and tired of the ease with which criminals can now anonymously stockpile for mass murder.
The bill, called the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act, will keep Americans safe by limiting the ability of people planning for mass murder to anonymously purchase unlimited quantities of ammunition through the Internet or other mail-order means. It would also require that ammunition dealers report bulk sales of ammunition to law enforcement.
The shooter who killed 12 and injured 58 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater this month had purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition anonymously on the Internet shortly before going on his killing spree, according to law enforcement officials.
"The senseless violence of the theater shooting in Aurora served once again as a reminder that our nation must do more to protect innocent Americans from the carnage of gun violence," said Rep. DeGette. "It is quite frankly inexplicable that one individual was able to purchase 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the internet, while we had no system in place to raise a red flag. It is basic common-sense to ask ammunition dealers to be licensed and to require record-keeping that provides critical information to law enforcement, while protecting privacy. This bill is a reasonable step to help us do what we can to prevent terrible shootings from becoming mass casualties."
"The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act pulls ammunition sales out of the shadows and into the light, where criminals can't hide and responsible dealers can act as a line of defense against the planning and stockpiling of a potential mass killer," Rep. McCarthy said. "Law-abiding gun owners and shooters should support this legislation because it hinders criminals from abusing the Second Amendment right that our nation promises and could save innocent lives in the process."
The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act works through four components:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.
There are indications that there is already an appetite for such a measure among the American public. Even before the Colorado shooting, earlier this summer Internet giant Google changed its policies so that ammunition and firearms are no longer sold through its shopping channels.
A recent Mayors Against Illegal Guns poll of 945 gun owners across America found that 87 percent of NRA members agree that support for Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
And conservative thought-leaders such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch have all publicly expressed acceptance or support for some form of gun regulation since the Colorado shooting.
The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act undoes the dangerous effects of a law advanced by the NRA in the 1980s, as explained by the Violence Policy Center's Kristen Rand:
"Online ammunition sales are the direct result of the NRA's flagship bill of the 1980s, the McClure-Volkmer "Firearms Owners' Protection Act.' Prior to McClure-Volkmer, interstate ammunition sales by common carrier to private individuals were banned, records were maintained of ammunition sales, and ammunition sellers had to be licensed. In today's Internet age the effect of this change can now be measured in untold rounds of ammunition sold to the wrong buyers and all too many lives ended. We applaud the leadership of Senator Lautenberg and Representative McCarthy in working to reinstate this life-saving component of federal law."