U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) introduced bicameral legislation to implement instant universal background checks for the sale of gun ammunition. The Ammunition Background Check Act will be known as “Jaime’s Law” in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, one of 17 victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Blumenthal, Wasserman Schultz, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (FL-22) and other members of Congress were joined at a press conference in Washington, DC by Fred Guttenberg, Jaime’s father, as they announced the bill.
The press conference was also attended by Charlie Mirsky, Political Director of March For Our Lives; Michele Morgan, Board Member of Newtown Action Alliance and Rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill; Joseph Sakran, Director of Emergency General Surgery, Associate Chief of Division of Acute Care Surgery, and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Founder of @ThisIsOurLane; Kyleanne Hunter, Vice President of Programs at the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Igor Volsky, Executive Director of Guns Down America; and George Higgins, Board Chair of States United to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Ammunition sales should be subject to the same legal requirements that should govern firearm sales: universal background checks. The same laws that prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing firearms also prohibit them from amassing arsenals of ammunition, with one major loophole: there are no background checks for ammunition sales to enforce the law. Closing this ludicrous loophole is a common sense component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce gun violence,” said Blumenthal.
“No person should have to experience the agonizing pain of losing someone they love to gun violence. Fred Guttenberg and individuals around the country are demanding Congress address this public health crisis,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Jaime’s Law is a crucial piece of the multifaceted approach that is essential to ending the gun violence epidemic, closing the ammunition loophole by requiring background checks for ammunition purchases".
“I shouldn’t know anybody in this room – this wasn’t what my life was supposed to be,” Guttenberg said at the press conference. “I stand here as a father who has missed his daughter's 15th birthday; I stand here as a father who doesn't get to teach his daughter to drive; I stand here as a father who planned a funeral – not a Sweet Sixteen. The next time someone says to me, you can’t do anything about gun violence – as my good friend from Parkland Emma Gonzalez once said – I call BS on that. Because yes we can – and yes we will".
Under current law, just as criminals, domestic abusers and dangerously mentally ill individuals are prohibited from purchasing a firearm, they are also prohibited from purchasing ammunition. Unlike firearms, however, federal law does not require a background check to prevent the illegal purchase of bullets. Jaime’s Law would close this loophole by requiring all buyers of ammunition to undergo an instant background check under the same FBI National Instant Background Check System (NICS), the same quick and easy process that applies to the purchase of firearms.
Under the proposed bill, federally licensed gun dealers could simply use their existing system to run instant checks on ammunition purchasers, either by phone or electronically. Sellers who are not federal licensees could continue to sell ammunition by conducting a background check through an existing licensee or by obtaining a federal license.
“Criminals and domestic abusers can’t own firearms under federal law and they’re not supposed to be able to buy the ammunition, either,” said Murphy. “But it’s tough to enforce the law without requiring background checks for ammunition purchases. Jamie’s Law is a commonsense bill that would prevent people who shouldn’t be buying ammunition or guns from endangering themselves or others. I’m proud to join Senator Blumenthal, Representative Wasserman Schultz, and Jamie’s dad, Fred, to introduce this bill today".