On Monday, July 30, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would impose sweeping new--and not so new--restrictions on ammunition sales.
The bills, S. 3458 and H.R. 6241, are known as the “Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act.” The bill itself has four elements:
- A federal licensing requirement for ammunition sellers;
- Recordkeeping on all ammunition sales;
- Reporting of all sales of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to anyone without a federal firearms license within five consecutive business days; and
- A photo identification requirement for all non-licensees buying ammunition, “effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.”
The two lawmakers’ contempt for “regular civilians” is nothing new, and neither are the first two of the requirements they propose. Starting in 1968, ammunition dealers had to have licenses from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and also had to keep records of purchasers. The recordkeeping requirement on .22 caliber rimfire ammunition was so burdensome that it was repealed in 1982. Congress did away with the remaining licensing and recordkeeping provisions as part of the "Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986" after the BATF itself said the restrictions had “no substantial law enforcement value.”
The proposed bill would turn back the clock to the days when ammunition was only available in person at licensed stores, driving up prices and making less popular cartridges nearly unobtainable for millions of lawful gun owners. The effect of all of these proposals on competitive shooters, who buy ammunition by the case lot for consistent accuracy and shoot tens of thousands of rounds each year in practice, would be especially devastating. And because the word “ammunition” is defined in federal law to include components such as bullets and empty cartridge cases, the bill would be disastrous for handloaders--especially those who enjoy shooting rare, historic cartridges.
In fact, Lautenberg and McCarthy would do well to heed the words of the Obama administration’s top negotiator at the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty conference, who pointed out to the nations of the world that “Ammunition is … fungible, consumable, reloadable, and cannot be marked in any practical way that would permit it to be tracked or traced. Any practical proposal for ammunition would need to consider the significant burdens associated with licensing, authorizations, and recordkeeping for ammunition that is produced and transferred in the billions of rounds per year.”
Please contact your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and urge them to oppose S. 3458 and H.R. 6241 respectively. You can find contact information for your elected officials by using the "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org., or you can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121. Once you have taken this action, please be sure to forward this information to your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners, and strongly encourage them to contact their lawmakers as well.