Washington, DC--Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) co-sponsored legislation requiring face-to-face purchase of ammunition, to prevent individuals from buying unlimited amounts of ammunition over the Internet.  The legislation would ensure that law enforcement is alerted to any suspicious purchases.  Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The suspect in the horrific Colorado movie theater murders reportedly purchased some 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the internet prior to his killing spree last month.  The ability to buy such firepower with a simple keystroke and mouse click is disturbing to say the least.  The internet should be a tool to purchase books, not bullets.  Instead, it is being used by disturbed individuals to acquire vast quantities of ammunition.  If the Aurora madman was an isolated incidence perhaps this would be less of a concern.  However, we still have the memories of assaults by madmen with deadly firepower in Binghamton, Fort Hood, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Washington, DC Holocaust Museum, and for too many other places over the last few years. 

The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act (H.R. 6241) is sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in the House and Senator Frank Lautenberg in the Senate.  The legislation would:

  • Establish a licensing requirement for selling ammunition, and require ammunition dealers to maintain records of ammunition sales.
  • Require ammunition buyers to present photo identification at the time of purchase.  This provision would effectively prohibit the purchase of ammunition over the Internet by anyone other than a licensed seller.
  • Require 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.  This provision will help ensure warning flags are raised if someone attempts to purchase large quantities of ammunition within a short period of time.
  • Prohibit the sale of ammunition by anyone other than a licensed seller.  However, the bill would allow an unlicensed individual to sell ammunition to a licensed individual, ensuring that anyone is able to dispose of unwanted ammunition without having to first become a licensed seller. 

Rep. Engel said, “We need to have a thoughtful conversation about guns.  I’m not talking about guns used for hunting, self-defense or recreation – I’m talking about the kind of weapons and firepower used in combat.  This is not a 2nd Amendment issue – legitimate sales will continue and no one wants to take away the guns of law-abiding citizens.  However, there is no logic to the argument that a reasonable person needs to have 6000 bullets at a time for recreational use.  We may not be able to stop people with hate in their heart, or those with untreated mental problems, from committing acts of violence and terror, but we could lessen the damage by keeping military-style weapons and unlimited amounts of ammunition out of their hands. 

Rep. Engel is a co-sponsor of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s “Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act,” (HR 308) which would help keep the types of ammunition capacity out of the reach of potential criminals.  He is also the author of legislation to ban the five-seven handgun – a pistol capable of killing a police officer wearing a bullet-proof vest from over 200 meters away.