Should Online Ammunition Sales Be Banned?

A new bill would effectively ban ammunition sales over the Internet, requiring buyers to show photo ID.

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Two Democratic legislators announced plans Monday to introduce a bill effectively banning online ammunition sales. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York want to ban unlimited sales via Internet or mail, and require dealers to report bulk purchases to authorities.

The proposal comes in the wake of the Colorado theater shooting, in which shooting suspect James Holmes allegedly  killed 12 and injured 58 when he opened fire in a movie theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. As ammunition sales are currently unregulated, Holmes was able to anonymously purchase more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online.

The ban would require ammunition sellers to check the photo ID of anyone (other than licensed dealers) purchasing ammunition, making it essentially impossible to sell it over the Internet. Sellers would also have to have a license, keep sales records, and report sales of over 1,000 rounds.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gun control and gun rights.]

"When you buy a gun on the Internet, you have go to a store to pick that gun up," McCarthy said. "Well if you're going to be buying these kinds of large amounts of ammunition, you know what? Somebody should see your face."

The Colorado shooting has renewed the national gun control debate, but politicians have remained largely hands-off the hot button issue during this election year. Even President Barack Obama was slow to make statements regarding gun control, but did say last week:

I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms … But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Does the Colorado Shooting Prove the Need for More Gun Control Laws?]

Gun rights activists see any measures to limit access to arms or ammunition as a violation of the Second Amendment. They argue that law-abiding citizens should not have their access to guns restricted, and that guns actually keep people safer.

It has been three years since the Democratic Senate has voted on any gun legislation, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it is unlikely the gun control debate will have a place on this session's agenda.

New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer is also attempting to place an amendment on the Senate cybersecurity bill banning high-capacity gun magazines that can fire off more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

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