The White House said President Barack Obama will "evaluate" the bill, but stopped short of saying whether or not he will support it.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York filed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act Monday, a little over a week after suspected gunman James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 others in Aurora, Colorado. They are hoping the bill will eliminate the ease with which criminals and potential mass murderers can anonymously stockpile bullets. Holmes had purchased thousands of bullets on the Internet.
"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. This legislation is a simple common-sense step that would put safeguards in place to detect suspicious activity, helping to prevent the sale of ammunition to a terrorist or the next would-be mass murderer."
If it becomes law, the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act would require:
- Anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer;
- Ammunition buyers who aren't licensed dealers to show photo identification when they are making a purchase. This would end online or mail-order purchases of ammunition by the ordinary civilian;
- Licensed ammunition dealers to keep records of the sale of ammunition; and
- 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 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," 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."
Undoing NRA-Pushed Firearms Owners Protection Act
Apart from creating a line of defense against possible wrongdoers, some say the legislation also seeks to undo a 1980s law pushed by the National Rifle Association. That law is called the 1986 McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owners Protection Act, aimed at protecting gun owners from any abuses from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
"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," said Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center. "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."
Holmes, who was charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder Monday -- two for each person he killed -- was able to legally buy more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet. He was also found in possession of four guns, including an AR-15 assault rifle, and war gear. Police said Holmes also booby-trapped his apartment.
The massacre has once again led to debating the issue of gun control in America and a discussion of a possible reinstating of the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. Neither president Obama nor presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have spoken extensively on gun control since the Colorado shooting.
In 2008, Obama said he reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons, but he has made no moves to so since his presidency. Days after the Aurora killing Obama said he would work with both parties to find a consensus on violence reduction. Both Obama and Romney have said changing the law won't erase crime.
Bloomberg: 48,000 Americans Will Be Murdered
Among the biggest critics of Obama and Romney following the Aurora killing is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has asked that both presidential hopefuls talk about gun safety measures.
Bloomberg said that if Washington doesn't act on the issue 48,000 Americans will be murdered during the next presidential term.
"We should be having a great debate among two accomplished leaders and the people they're asking to hire them," Bloomberg said. "But we're not getting leadership; we're just getting condolences. If the presidential candidates won't act, others will -- including Sen. Lautenberg and Congresswoman McCarthy, who time and again have shown their steadfast commitment to protecting American lives."