Ten days after the Colorado movie theater massacre, federal lawmakers introduced a bill that would effectively ban people like suspect James Holmes from buying thousands of rounds of ammunition by mail or online.
“It’s time to close the loophole that’s allowing killers — deranged, insane — and even terrorists to buy ammunition online,” said U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.
He was joined Monday on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York to announce the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act.
McCarthy’s husband was killed and their son paralyzed in 1993 after a gunman opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train, leaving five others dead.
Lautenberg said he and McCarthy, both Democrats, were “on a mission”: to ensure the safety of all Americans by passing legislation that would close loopholes in gun laws allowing people like the suspect in the Aurora, Colo., shootings “to anonymously stockpile for mass murder.”
Under the bill, only licensed dealers would be allowed to sell ammunition. They would have to notify a law enforcement official within five business days about any sale of more than 1,000 rounds to an unlicensed person.
The bill also would require buyers who aren’t licensed dealers to show a photo ID. And that would mean eye contact with someone purchasing ammunition.
“If you’re going to buy these large amounts of ammunition, somebody should see your face,” Lautenberg said.
Holmes purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition online “like you might order shoes or food,” Lautenberg said. “He didn’t have to interact with another human being who could have noticed his abnormal behavior.”
The legislation, to be introduced in Congress this week, was spurred by the Colorado movie theater shooting rampage that killed 12 people and injured more than 50. The suspect, Holmes, was charged Monday with 142 counts in the massacre; he hasn’t yet entered a plea.
The July 20 rampage follows other recent mass violence including the 1999 Columbine shootings, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and last year’s shooting in Tucson that killed six and seriously injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.
“We are calling for a national outcry to stop gun violence in this country,” McCarthy said.
On the morning after the Aurora killings, McCarthy said, she was brought back “to that moment when your family went through a similar tragedy, and the pain does not go away.”
The White House on Monday didn’t immediately offer its support to the Democrat-sponsored bill.
“I haven’t seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at the daily briefing, adding that it would be “evaluated.”
He said President Barack Obama “believes in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, in the right to bear arms.” But the president “also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law” to address gun issues.
Since the Aurora shootings, one of the most outspoken voices in favor of gun control has been New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is pressing Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney to tackle the issue of gun violence.
Julie Walker from AP Radio also contributed to this story.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.