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Blumenthal: If You Want A Bullet, You’ll Have To Pass A Background Check

by | Jan 9, 2013 6:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Congress, Town News, Newtown, Public Safety

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal told reporters Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation toughening requirements for purchasing ammunition.

The bill, which comes in the wake of the Newtown school shooting that claimed 26 lives, would require retailers to use an FBI database to conduct background checks on anyone who buys bullets. It would also require retailers to report to law enforcement when someone purchases more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and it would extend an existing ban on bullets capable of piercing body armor.

“It simply extends the existing background check system to categories of people who are barred by law from making these purchases,” Blumenthal said.

Currently, it is illegal to sell both firearms and ammunition to certain groups, including felons, fugitives, drug addicts, the mentally ill, and domestic violence perpetrators. Background checks are required for the sale of firearms, but not for the sale of ammunition.

Blumenthal’s legislation would require all buyers of ammunition to undergo an instant background check and close what he called a “loophole” in the current law.

Anticipating there will be complaints about the additional time it may take to purchase ammunition, Blumenthal said the background check takes about 30 seconds. He said it’s either an electronic entry or a phone call. He said individuals who own firearms and have a permit can use that permit to purchase ammunition.

“What I’m hearing from people who are hunters or recreational shooters or NRA members is: We don’t want the bad guys to be buying guns or ammunition,” Blumenthal said. “It’s not like gun owners are in favor of wanton killings. They are strong law enforcement supporters and I think they’ll welcome this idea.”

Blumenthal, who has spent a lot of time in Newtown lately, said he anticipates a lot of the victims’ families will be strong supporters of the legislation, even if none of them are ready just yet to speak out about the issue.

But there is no “single solution to gun violence,” Blumenthal conceded, adding that preventing future mass killings will take a sustained effort.

“One of the most common observations about these mass atrocities is that public opinion peaks and it seems to subside as time passes,” he said during a conference call with reporters in Connecticut and Washington.

Sustaining the current moment will be one of the biggest challenges, Blumenthal said.

The legislation was offered as part of a larger effort to get rid of gun violence in this country.

Vice President Joseph Biden is in charge of a task force that will make recommendations to President Barack Obama prior to his State of the Union address later this month.

Blumenthal said he’s not presuming the administration will support his proposal, but he thinks it’s an important part of the conversation. He said he doesn’t have co-sponsors at this time, but said he will seek them before he introduces the bill in late January.

As far as cost is concerned, Blumenthal estimated his proposal would cost about $5 million.

“I know we don’t tend to talk about millions these days in Washington, but that amount as you know is pretty small in comparison to the total federal budget,” Blumenthal said. “The cost is negligible especially compared to the potential benefits.”

The legislation would possibly prevent large amounts of ammunition from getting into the wrong hands, he said.

Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman, was able to shoot hundreds of bullets before taking his own life, according to police. The guns Lanza used belonged to his mother, who he killed before heading to the school on Dec. 14 where he killed 20 children and six educators.

Blumenthal announced the legislation on the second anniversary of the shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The gunman killed six people and left Giffords critically injured.

Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, who met privately with victims’ families last week in Newtown, used the second anniversary to launch a campaign called Americans for Responsible Solutions.

The website invites individuals to join a national conversation about gun violence prevention and seeks to raise funds necessary to “balance the influence of the gun lobby.”

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(8) Archived Comments

posted by: sightover | January 9, 2013  7:46am

“One of the most common observations about these mass atrocities is that public opinion peaks and it seems to subside as time passes…Sustaining the current moment will be one of the biggest challenges…”

Good ol’ Blumy: Endorsing uninformed, knee-jerk legislation. THATs the bedrock of sound public policy!

Had someone just robbed the general store would we form a lynch mob?

It is telling that a U.S. Senator would openly espouse flogging the public into a frenzy. Our electorate is clearly a mixture of idiots and those seeking to control idiots. Those who do not fall into either category should flee to another state.

posted by: Noteworthy | January 9, 2013  8:21am

And how will this poorly thought out proposal stop another Newtown? It won’t and it wouldn’t have stopped any other mass shooting either. As for Blumenthal’s claim that NRA members and gun owners like this new layer of tracking/checking - prove it.

posted by: dano860 | January 9, 2013  10:21am

People with “carry permits” have passed a background check.
The mother of the sick boy that caused the tragedy in Newtown passed a background check.
She needed to be a responsible firearms owner and have them all locked away from a person as sick as he was.
Mine are in a safe with the key in another safe that only I know the combination to. In case of death or injury the combination is in a safe deposit box that my wife and adult children can access.
She knew her son had mental issues, she was a poor mother and citizen in our society.

posted by: Longtime NHResident | January 9, 2013  11:43am

I have been all for making it harder to acquire ammunition as a gun is useless without bullets. Instead of criticizing our lame duck representatives for knee jerking shouldn’t we be happy they are at least doing more than talking. Anything that makes it even the least bit harder to get guns or ammo should be welcome. We should also put some responsibility on gun shop owners to be required to report to the local police any suspicious activity from people who get agitated or angry about having to wait or go through a back ground check to buy guns or ammo. We should also lower the amount of rounds to 500. Why would you need 1,000 rounds?? Seems excessive even for a shooting range outing.

posted by: Joebigjoe | January 9, 2013  1:56pm

So now instead of drug dealers in the city not making much money, you have people doing reloading and selling bullets on the black market to supplement their income.

Also drug dealers and gang bangers dont often go to the shooting range so they dont need many bullets. Just enough to cap someone for looking at them the wrong way and then dump the gun for awhile.

Not a good idea.

How about a permit or waiting period for an abortion? I’m not saying to deny the right to have one, but some reasonable measures that may keep some women from aborting out of convenience might be just as reasonable.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | January 9, 2013  5:02pm


Here’s why I think this will fail in the Courts: There’s tendency to expand Felony as a class of crime to include 2 and 3 time DWI offenders and Domestic Violence Offenders and certain financial crimes. This encroachment on the Second Amendment by the backdoor is going to meet resistance in the Courts. The state will need to show that their capricious and politically misguided misuse of the word Felon has any statistical meaning when it comes to firearm abuse. Otherwise they are simply trying to circumvent the second amendment by expanding the word Felon to include crimes without any causal link to firearm abuse or violence.

There was a time when the word Felon had real meaning and import. No more. In CT they could just as easily pass legislation eliminating misdemeanor as a class of crime and classifying everything as felon if the right interest groups use their purses.

This will fail in the Courts.

posted by: BMC556 | January 9, 2013  5:40pm

I can remember when state hospitals housed and provided 24 hour supervision for mentally deranged individuals such as Adam Lanza. The mass de-institutionalization of these patients took place in the late 70’s and early 80’s and the state facilities were closed. Drug therapy was thought to be more cost effective. Since then, our children have been pumped full of psychiatric pharmaceuticals which alter their brain chemistry and sometimes result in violent behavior. I do not understand why GUNS are always blamed while the antidepressant and antipsychotic medications being ingested by 90% of these mass killers is never mentioned.  I suspect it is because there is too much MONEY involved.
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has raised concerns about severe acts of violence as side effects of anti-psychotic and antidepressant drugs not only on individuals but on society as well.
PRWeb described drug induced violence as “medicine’s best kept secret.” And the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHRI) is calling for a federal investigation on its web page which links no less than 14 mass killings to the use of psychiatric drugs such as Prozac and Paxil.
It is time our society look at our growing epidemic of addiction to pharmaceutical drugs and the role those drugs may play in the epidemic of mass killings. We must demand investigations be transparent regarding the use of psychiatric drugs by these killers. This is not a time when major pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to hide behind doctor patient privilege. We deserve to know the truth, regardless of the campaign contributions pharmaceutical companies have made to our elected officials.

posted by: sofaman | January 11, 2013  12:36am

@BMC556: As much as I think it’s a very good idea to also focus on the mental health and lousy drug policies involved in many of these mass-shootings, let’s be honest—it’s really not hard at all to understand why guns are getting attention. They are ALWAYS the weapon used. Our gun laws are pathetically weak and unenforced.

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