House Dems want verification, reporting of online ammo sales

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-NJ

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-NJ, has introduced the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2015 to Congress. (Photo: Facebook)

A proposal would impose a national mandate that those buying ammunition online verify their ID in person with a licensed dealer and report sales over 1,000 rounds to the U.S. Attorney General’s office.

The bill, a update of failed 2013 legislation introduced by Rep. Carol McCarthy, D-NY, would require proof of identification and that sales that exceed a certain amount be reported to the federal government. The framers of the new legislation paint the move as an important safeguard.

“Today, I stood with faith leaders, community members, and elected officials who all agree that we need to take every action available to us to reduce gun violence, and the tragic impact it has on our communities,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-NJ, the author of the legislation that has 30 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

“This bill would take the most basic steps to slow the proliferation of guns and ammunition, helping to prevent events like what we saw in Aurora, Colorado, three years ago. Congress can, and must do more to keep our families safe, and we’re urging them to do just that,” Coleman said.

Coleman’s bill, the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2015, has been introduced this week as H.R.2283. It would require that online ammunition sales to those who are not licensed dealers could only proceed after the seller has physically verified the buyer’s identification in a face-to-face encounter by comparing the person to their driver’s license or other documents. Theoretically, this would entail shipping the ammunition to a dealer where the buyer would then complete the sale.

Further, the legislation would require that all sales made within a five-day period that total more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition of any kind must be reported to both the U.S. Attorney General’s office and the state police where the sale took place.

Gun control advocates cite the July 2012 mass killing at Aurora in which the gunman killed 12 and injured 70 as an example why regulating online ammo sales is needed. The shooter had accumulated some 6,000 rounds of ammunition through legal online purchases.

“A consumer product that has the potential to kill, like a bullet, should be regulated in a manner similar to cigarettes and certain allergy medicines,” said Carole Stiller, President of the NJ Million Mom March Chapters. “Legislation like this can help prevent tragedies.”

The bill also has the early support of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Newtown Action Alliance. However, opponents of the measure lambasted Coleman’s proposal on social media.

“Persons who purchase ammunition online do it for target shooting or collecting purposes,” responded one. “It is also a great source for vintage, obsolete or rare ammo. Someone bent on committing a crime only needs one round, and they don’t care where they get it or how much they have to pay for it.”

The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2015 has been referred to the Republican-controlled House Committee on the Judiciary.