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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 24, 2017 12:06 PM
From: Representative Brian Sims
To: All House members
Subject: Background Checks for Ammunition Sales
In the near future, I will be introducing a bill that would regulate the sale of ammunition in the same way that firearm sales are currently regulated.

Under my bill, only a licensed dealer may sell ammunition. It does not create a separate license for ammunition sales, but rather allows a business to use its existing license to sell both firearms and ammunition. When a person wishes to purchase ammunition, the licensee would have to contact the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) would conduct a background investigation. A person who is prohibited by state law from possessing a firearm would also be prohibited from purchasing and possessing ammunition.

Moreover, my bill would allow individuals to apply for a PSP ammunition purchase authorization which if approved, would last for four years, and allow an individual to purchase ammunition during that time period without the need to get a background check for every ammunition purchase. The purchase authorization would be revoked by the PSP upon the occurrence of an event which would disqualify a person from purchasing a firearm or ammunition. Additionally, my bill codifies the existing procedure requiring handguns ordered online to first be shipped to a licensee for a PICS check, and applies this same procedure to online ammunition purchases.

Pennsylvania does not currently regulate ammunition sales, so any retail store or Internet website can sell ammunition. The perpetrator of the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was able to order more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online in a process that the New York Times described as “pretty much as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.” It makes sense to prevent those who should not possess a firearm from gaining access to the ammunition that is vital to the operation of all guns.

I believe that my bill would help reduce gun injury without unduly burdening responsible, law-abiding gun owners, as they will still be able to purchase their ammunition in the same store where they buy firearms. I ask that you please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1115