Ammunition Background Check Act

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) plans to introduce the Ammunition Background Check Act which would mandate NICS checks for all ammunition purchases. His legislation would reinstate the record keeping requirement for ammo sales, a report to ATF whenever anyone buys more than 1,000 rounds within a 5 day period, bans teflon-coated and incendiary bullets, and require reports of stolen ammunition.

According to CNN, Blumenthal is introducing this legislation “to keep faith with the people of Newtown and elsewhere who want action to combat gun violence.”

In his press release, Blumenthal says:

Reporting large purchases of ammunition can alert law enforcement and enable proactive intervention. Large scale purchases of ammunition are the fuel often driving mass murders.

Or, more likely, it is a sign that a person either got a good deal or is planning to take a training class that requires 1,000 or more rounds of ammo for the weekend.

In addition, the legislation bans Teflon-coated bullets and incendiary ammunition. The current federal ban on armor-piercing ammunition exempts certain kinds of Teflon-coated bullets, as well as incendiary ammunition designed to ignite or explode on contact. Both of these kinds of ammunition can defeat body armor, and pose a grave danger to law enforcement officials.

Where is Blumenthal getting his info? Incendiary is “designed to ignite or explode on contact”? That doesn’t meet any definition of incendiary bullets that I’ve ever heard. Blumenthal is confusing incendiary as in tracers with certain .50 BMG ammunition such as the Raufoss Mk. 211 which is high explosive, armor piercing, and incendiary.  As for defeating body armor, your average .30-30 Winchester deer hunting cartridge can defeat most forms worn by law enforcement officers.

Background checks have worked in many cases to keep firearms from falling into the wrong hands. According to the FBI, over the last decade, more than 100 million background checks have been run on firearm purchases. The vast majority of background checks took about 30 seconds. Approximately 700,000 people were blocked from purchasing guns – including felons, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill.

Two points on this part of his statement. First, if you dump ammo purchases into the NICS system without drastically increasing personnel, the wait times will defeat the whole rationale of “instant checks”. My second point is when have you ever heard of any prohibited purchasers ever being prosecuted for attempting to purchase a firearm.

Blumenthal’s bill has one other fatal flaw if he plans to track all ammo – reloading.

12 thoughts on “Ammunition Background Check Act”

  1. They will come up with some other bullshit law to make primers a NICS check, after all, if you cant get primers, your done reloading. You just have to give them time.

  2. Yup. I can reload my own. Brass in untraceable, I can grab lead from the local tire shop, tell them I need it for fishing weights, melt it down, spay on a Teflon coating, put a tungsten rod in the middle, hollow point, etc.

    And I buy ammo by the 1k as do many, many, many shooters. The number of false positives will be staggering, but it would cause people to stop buying so much due to the hassle of getting a visit from Officer Friendly. Crime wouldn't drop, but legitimate gun ownership would. And that's the plan.

  3. Back in the 80's or 90's I remember reading on Joe Huffmans blog a bit about the 2? 3? billion rounds of handgun caliber ammunition used in a year. The current NICS system goes down or switches to "right delayed" mode -on a busy weekend-. There is no way the current system can be made to "register" ammunition buys in blocks of 1k.
    So it makes me wonder, is this one of those bills for the purpose of his next campaigns fundraising letters? OR is it something we should really try to engage people in letter writing about? Say uncle has a bit about a bill to repeal the gun free zones act, I'm certainly going to be asking friends to write letters to their reps about that to get them to co sponsor (wether it moves or not). Is it worth the energy to mention this or will it die on it's own?

    1. As I recall total ammunition production for civilians (this includes the "seconds" we get from ATK (Federal) running Lake City and the win-win-win contract they have with the government) is at around 11-12 billion rounds per year….

  4. Boyd,

    A lot of stuff is being tossed up on the wall to see what will stick. To answer your question we need to see what is looking like it might, "stick".

    We will know by watching a few things: the number of co-sponsors a piece of legislation receives; who is co-sponsoring; whether a matching bill is introduced in the other chamber; and whether the bill is moved from committee. This year we can add: whether the President says it must pass.

    Until then, we can hold fire on specific proposals. But I highly encourage action on a general basis. Calling your reps and telling them "no gun control, at all" is useful.

  5. the wait times will defeat the whole rationale of "instant checks".

    But it sure achieves a backdoor "cooling off" period/wait time, sans direct legislation.

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