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New Bill Could Require Background Checks for Ammo Purchases

Following the Boston bombing, Senator Harry Reid (D, NV) has proposed new legislation that would require a background check on anyone purchasing “explosive materials” or “powders” that could be used to create a bomb.

The basic motivation behind the legislation is fairly reasonable – the Tsarnaev brothers manufactured bombs, so regulating explosive materials could lead to fewer terrorist bombings.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ), who wrote the bill, stated, “It defies common sense that anyone, even a terrorist, can walk into a store in America and buy explosive powders without a background check or any questions asked. Requiring a background check for an explosives permit is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our communities.”

The problem? Bullets and other mundane items might get caught in the crossfire.

The Boston bombers, for example, used black powder from fireworks to create their bombs. Bullets also contain small pockets of smokeless powder. In small qualities they aren’t terribly dangerous (except for when they’re used to propel a bullet, of course), but a person could conceivably take apart enough bullets to create an explosive device.  

In fact, there’s already a similar law in place. A background check is necessary whenever somebody purchases 50 pounds or more of black powder. The bill would lower that threshold and add smokeless powder to the list. Theoretically, purchasing 50 pounds of ammunition could trigger a background check under the new bill.

Some gun rights proponents are wary of the bill. Silent Prepper of Prepper Central wrote, “Reid and Lautenberg will also give the Attorney General power to forbid the sale of explosive powders to anyone who is believed to be purchasing it for the purpose of terrorism, [including] anyone who may have second amendment oriented views.”

It’s almost like legislative sleight of hand. Legislators couldn’t require universal background checks on all gun sales, so requiring background checks on ammunition is the next best thing. Cutting down on terrorist bombing attacks is a commendable goal, but is there any way to draft legislation that controls explosives without also regulating ammunition?

Source: Prepper Central


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