Conn. senator wants background checks for ammo purchases

2013-01-04T210002Z_01_CTMM003_RTRIDSP_3_USA-SHOOTING-CONNECTICUT-GIFFORDS_image_1024w (Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) (l), former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (c) and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, in Newtown, Conn., January 4, 2013.

Connecticut’s senior senator said Tuesday he would introduce legislation to require background checks for all buyers of gun ammunition, part of a medley of gun-related proposals Congress is considering in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he wants to require all buyers of ammunition to undergo instant background checks through the FBI’s systems. Blumenthal, a former state attorney general, said the measure would keep ammunition from falling into the hands of felons, drug addicts, domestic violence perpetrators or the mentally ill.

“Any one of these people can walk into a Wal-Mart, buy a shopping cart full of ammunition and walk out – no questions asked,” Blumenthal said in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post.

Current law mandates background checks for some purchases of firearms, although there are loophole exemptions for some private sales, including at gun shows. However, there are no laws requiring background checks for ammunition purchases.

Blumenthal said he has spoken about his proposal with Vice President Biden and key administration officials involved in the White House’s working group studying gun violence.

“I see it very much as a seamless part of a more comprehensive package,” Blumenthal said. “It is a necessary component of a gun violence prevention strategy.”

Blumenthal said he also discussed the idea with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last week, when they both visited Newtown, Conn., to meet with families of children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, announced Tuesday they were starting a group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, that would push for stricter gun laws and counter the political influence of the National Rifle Association.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

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