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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 28, 2019 10:44 AM
From: Representative Brian Sims
To: All House members
Subject: Background Checks for Ammunition Sales
In the days leading up to the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the perpetrator legally ordered 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.” Seventy people were shot by the perpetrator within a few minutes, resulting in 12 deaths.

Pennsylvanians who are prohibited from buying a gun can still purchase ammunition. In an effort to prevent future mass shootings, the legislature should support my proposal to regulate the sale of ammunition in the same way that firearm sales are regulated. Under my proposal, only licensed firearms dealers would be able to sell ammunition, and a business can use its existing license to sell both firearms and ammunition. When a person wishes to purchase ammunition, the licensee would contact the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) would conduct a background investigation. If a person is prohibited by state law from possessing a firearm, they should also be prohibited from purchasing and possessing ammunition. As to not unduly burden responsible, law-abiding gun owners, a PSP ammunition purchase authorization can be obtained, which would allow an individual to purchase ammunition for four years without the need to get a background check for every ammunition purchase.

In 2008, Sacramento, California, began requiring ammunition sellers to run a background check on potential purchasers. By 2013, the local law had resulted in over 150 felony convictions and 90 misdemeanor convictions by helping law enforcement pinpoint homes they otherwise would have had no reason to search. It is time we take similar action to keep ammunition out of the hands of dangerous people.

I ask that you please join me in co-sponsoring this important safety measure because we must act to help reduce gun injury without unduly burdening responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

Introduced as HB1494