Dems push federal background checks on ammunition sales

This drum magazine, which the owner said can hold more than 40 rounds, would be illegal to sell under a high-capacity magazine ban proposed by Democratic lawmakers. | Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require instant background checks to prevent individuals with a criminal record from illegally purchasing ammunition.

The measure backed by the Democrats, known as Jaime’s Law, is named in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, a student who died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

She was 14. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Parkland, Fla., shooting.

Jaime’s father, Fred Guttenberg, has worked as an advocate against gun violence since her death.

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“I should be watching Jaime live out her best senior year, right now, getting ready to graduate, attend prom and go to college,” Guttenberg said during a virtual press conference.  “But instead we’re watching as others are living off these milestones and we’re wondering why haven’t we done anything about gun violence yet.”

Other lawmakers in attendance included Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), whose son, Jordan, was killed in a shooting, and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

“Jaime’s law is for families like mine, for families like the Guttenbergs, and for families across the country who are terrified that one day they’re going to send their children off to school and never see them come home,” McBath said.

Democrats have called the repeated recurrence of mass shootings a public health crisis and have pushed for bans on assault rifles and “common sense gun laws.” President Joe Biden issued several executive orders to try and curb gun violence.

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There have been 156 mass shootings this year, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonpartisan organization that tracks gun violence in the U.S.

The reintroduction of the bill also coincides with the 22-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting of April 20, 1999, in Colorado that left 15 dead.

If passed, the law would close a loophole that allows ammunition to be sold with no background checks.

While those with a criminal record, or who have mental illness are prohibited from buying a firearm or ammunition, there is no federal law that requires a background check on the purchase of ammunition.

Wasserman Schultz said she recognized that the bill has an uphill battle in getting passed into law, particularly with current Senate rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation.

“We as lawmakers can make it more politically painful inside the halls of Congress. Returning to a talking filibuster would be a start,” she said, referring to increasingly rare marathon speeches intended to hold up action in the Senate.

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Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance. Before joining States Newsroom, Ariana covered public health and chemical policy on Capitol Hill for E&E News. As a Florida native, she's worked for the Miami Herald and her hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and NPR. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.