Published July 30, 2012
Two Capitol Hill Democrats announced legislation Monday that would effectively end online and mail-order sales of ammunition following the recent massacre in Colorado, where police say the shooter bought more than 6,000 rounds online without proving identification.
The proposal was introduced outside New York City Hall by New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, and it marked the latest development in the gun control debate rekindled after 12 people were killed and 58 others wounded in the July 20 shooting inside an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia -- one of the high court’s most conservative justices -- also weighed in when he said on “Fox News Sunday” that the Supreme Court’s 2008 majority ruling on handguns in the District of Columbia stated the extent of limits on gun ownership “will have to be decided in future cases.”
The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act would require buyers who are not dealers to present a photo ID at the time of purchase, “effectively banning the online or mail-order purchase of ammo by regular citizens,” according to a summary of the legislation provided to Fox News.
The three other provisions are: Only licensed dealers can sell ammunition, the licensed dealers must keep records of ammunition sales and they must report the sales of more than 1,000 rounds to an unlicensed buyer within five business days.
Lautenberg and McCarthy said they will introduce the legislation later this week.
“If someone wants to purchase deadly ammunition, they should have to come face to face with the seller,” Lautenberg said. “It's one thing to buy a pair of shoes online, but it should take more than a click of the mouse to amass thousands of rounds of ammunition.”
He also said the legislation is a “common sense” effort to flag suspicious activity and help prevent such sales to "a terrorist or the next would-be mass murderer.”
One of the most outspoken voice in favor of gun control since the Colorado shootings has been New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has continued to press President Obama and Mitt Romney to use the campaign trail to address the issue of gun violence.
“We should be having a great debate among two accomplished leaders and the people they're asking to hire them,” said Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “If the presidential candidates won't act, others will, including Senator Lautenberg and Congresswoman McCarthy.”
Lautenberg and McCarthy proposed legislation to limit large-capacity magazines after Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011 with a handgun that had an attachment that could carry roughly 30 rounds of ammunition.
Congress passed legislation in 1994 that included a ban on such devices but it expired in 2004. Since then, the largely-Democratic effort to reinstate the ban, which also limited the sale of so-called assault weapons, has garnered little support in Congress.
It appears unlikely that either the House or Senate will take up the new legislation, considering the GOP-controlled House would probably not support such a measure, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already said there is no time for that debate in his chamber during the final months of the session.
Even so, Lautenberg and McCarthy argue there was an appetite for such change even before the shootings, pointing to Google no longer selling ammunition and firearms through its shopping channels.
Romney has said he does not believe America needs new gun laws, while Obama has said he supports gun ownership but suggested revisiting legislation on background checks and assault weapons, which prompted the response from Reid.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday he didn’t know whether the president has seen the new legislation but the administration would track it and similar proposals in Congress.
Earnest also repeated Obama’s belief in the Second Amendment but said the president thinks the country must take “robust steps within law” to address gun issues.
Lautenberg and McCarthy were joined Monday by Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"We as a nation know we are better than this,” Gross said. “We are better than 32 gun murders every day.”