Bill Requiring Background Checks on Ammo Purchases to be Introduced

Katie Pavlich

1/9/2013 7:25:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal has plans to introduce a bill that if passed would require background checks on ammunition purchases. It's called the Ammunition Background Check Act and late yesterday Blumenthal took to Twitter to explain his position by posting the following graphics.

"Ammo sales need same instant background checks as guns. I'm introducing the Ammunition Background Check Act," Blumenthal wrote.

 

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The bill from the Connecticut Democrat, who served as the state’s attorney general, would require retailers to use an FBI database to conduct background checks on anyone who buys bullets and report to law enforcement when someone purchases more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

“Ammunition is the black hole of gun violence prevention,” Blumenthal said on a conference call with reporters. “Felons, fugitives, domestic violence abusers, seriously mentally ill people — all are barred by law from buying ammunition and guns, but there are no checks for ammunition sales to enforce the law.”

The bill would also ban Teflon-coated bullets, which can pierce body armor.

Blumenthal said that his proposal was only one piece of a comprehensive strategy to curb gun violence, including renewing the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines; closing a loophole that allows unlicensed sellers to sell weapons a gun shows without background checks; and provisions to make it tougher for the mentally ill to acquire guns.

The "cop-killer" description, much like "assault weapon" is a made up term. You can read more about that here.

In the mid 1960's, Dr. Paul Kopsch (an Ohio coroner), Daniel Turcos (a police sergeant) and Donald Ward (Dr. Kopsch's special investigator) began experimenting with special purpose handgun ammunition. Their objective was to develop a law enforcement round capable of improved penetration against hard targets like windshield glass and automobile doors. Conventional bullets, made primarily from lead, are often ineffective against hard targets especially when fired at handgun velocities. In the 1970's, Kopsch, Turcos and Ward produced their "KTW" handgun ammunition using steel cored bullets capable of great penetration. Following further experimentation, in 1981 they began producing bullets constructed primarily of brass. The hard brass bullets caused exceptional wear on handgun barrels, a problem combated by coating the bullets with Teflon. The Teflon coating did nothing to improve penetration, it simply reduced damage to the gun barrel.

Despite the facts that "KTW" ammunition had never been available to the general public and that no police officer has ever been killed by a handgun bullet penetrating their body armor, the media incorrectly reported that the Teflon coated bullets were designed to defeat the body armor that law enforcement officers were beginning to use. The myth of "Cop-killer" bullets was born.

In January of 1982, NBC Television broadcast a sensationalist prime time special titled "Cop Killer Bullets." Law enforcement officials had asked NBC not to air the program as the use of body armor by police officers was still not common knowledge and the "KTW" ammunition was virtually unheard of outside law enforcement circles. The safety of law enforcement officers took a back seat to ratings at NBC however and they not only broadcast the show, but re-broadcast it again six months later.

Following significant media hype and widespread misconceptions, Congress got into the act and proposed legislation that would have outlawed any bullet based on its ability to penetrate certain bullet resistant material. The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and other forensic experts cautioned that the proposed ban was too vague to be enforceable. The NRA opposed the proposed law since it would have banned not only the controversial armor piercing handgun rounds, but nearly all conventional rifle ammunition as well. (Most rifle ammunition will easily penetrate the most commonly worn protective vests.)

The NRA proposed alternative legislation based upon the actual design and construction of the bullets. The final, approved version of the bill (H.R. 3132 passed in 1986) prohibited the sale of armor piercing ammunition [which may be used in a handgun] other than to law enforcement and the military. Representative Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.) the original bill's sponsor, stated that the final legislation "... was not some watered down version of what we set out to do. In the end there was no compromise on the part of police safety..."

Gun control advocates and the news media jumped on the NRA's opposition to the original, vague and ineffective proposal. They ignored the NRA's contribution to the final legislation insisting to this day that the NRA wants "Cop Killer" bullets to be available to the public.