HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce federal legislation that would require instant background checks for purchasers of ammunition in the wake of last month’s school shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.
It is now illegal to sell firearms and ammunition to certain groups, including felons and the mentally ill. But background checks, Blumenthal said, are only required for the sale of firearms, not the bullets.
“Right now, ammunition is the black hole in gun violence prevention because anybody can go into a store and buy any amount of ammunition with no questions asked and that person may be a felon, a fugitive, or mentally ill or a domestic violence abuser,” he said.
Proposed background checks for ammunition purchases is one of a series of measures the former state attorney general plans to support after the deadly Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. He also backs proposals such as the reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
Blumenthal said he believes his proposal, which could eventually be woven into a bigger package of gun law changes, would cost very little. Gun dealers, he said, would use their existing method to conduct ammunition background checks– either electronically or by telephone– under the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System. The draft of Blumenthal’s bill also requires sellers of ammunition to report to law enforcement when someone buys more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition or when a large quantity is stolen.
The threshold of 1,000 rounds could change as the bill moves through the legislative process, Blumenthal said.
He is also proposing to ban bullets with nonstick coating and incendiary ammunition. There is a federal ban on armor-piercing bullets, but certain kinds of bullets with nonstick coating and incendiary ammo designed to explode or ignite on contact are exempted.
The Democrat said a draft of the bill has been prepared and he will begin the process of seeking co-sponsors. He expects to introduce the legislation at the end of the month.
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