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Democrats announce bill to limit online ammunition sales

A bill to curb the sale of ammunition over the Internet is set to be introduced in Congress this week, the first piece of gun control-related legislation put forward since the shootings in Aurora, CO, 10 days ago.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) took to City Hall in New York City today to announce their bill that would effectively ban the purchase of ammunition over the Internet for anyone not licensed to do so. But, with little appetite for gun control legislation in the Senate and House, the bill is not likely to advance.

Still, Lautenberg and McCarthy sought to draw attention to the ease with which ammunition can be bought online. The alleged Colorado shooter, James Holmes, reportedly purchased more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet in the weeks before the shooting spree that killed 12 in Aurora, CO, a Denver suburb. Holmes was charged today with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.

"If someone wants to purchase deadly ammunition, they should have to come face-to-face with the seller," Lautenberg said in a statement. "It's one thing to buy a pair of shoes online, but it should take more than a click of the mouse to amass thousands of rounds of ammunition."

McCarthy said in a statement: "Law-abiding gun owners and shooters should support this legislation, because it hinders criminals from abusing the Second Amendment right that our nation promises and could save innocent lives in the process."

Before being elected in 1996, McCarthy became an advocate for tighter restrictions on guns after her husband was killed and her son was injured in a shooting on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993.

The bill, called the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act would require anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer. It would require ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase. The bill sponsors say this would effectively ban the online or mail order purchase of ammunition by those, like Holmes, without a license.

In addition, the bill would require licensed ammunition dealers to maintain a record of the sale of ammunition and report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.

Lautenberg will try to force a vote on the measure this week by offering the bill as an amendment to Cybersecurity legislation. But aides say that even if it made it to the Senate floor for a vote, it would likely not pass.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made it clear last week that the Senate will not debate gun control before the election and even beyond that.

As Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) explained to reporters in the wake of the Colorado shootings, the gun lobby is “quite strong.”

"I don't think that there's any appetite for or nothing near a consensus or majority to adopt real gun control, that is to do anything more than is already on the laws with regard to purchasing hand guns and the like," he said.

It is equally unlikely that the Lautenberg-McCarthy bill will see a vote in the House, where Republicans have said they do not intend to consider legislation dealing with gun control.