Following the deadly mass shootings in a Colorado movie theater and Wisconsin Sikh temple, the nationwide conversation over gun control has once again moved front and center.
While the Obama administration may seem reticent to seriously engage the issue in the midst of a heated electoral campaign, one California politician is working on a piece of legislation that would allow law enforcement to better track individuals with the firepower to commit one of these crimes--even if, like Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes, they lack a criminal record.
California Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) is currently penning a bill that would require law enforcement to be notified when a customer purchases over 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
Skinner conceived of the bill after learning that, before the shooting, Holmes had purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition online in a brief time span immediately preceding the shooting.
"[This bill] gives law enforcement at least the ability to assess whether it's something they should be looking into further," Skinner told the Sacramento Bee
While vast majority of people who purchase such large quantities of ammo do so for target practice, Skinner argues that the notifications required by the bill could serve as red flags for authorities in situations that could potentially turn tragic. She hopes that if police notice something disturbing and discover there are mental health issues involved, they could assist the individual in getting help before they hurt themselves or others.
However, not everyone thinks this approach will prove effective. Bakersfield Now reports:
"Most people who purchase large quantities of ammunition are doing so for recreation or sport shooting," said gun expert Alexander Bowman. He works at Bakersfield gun shop Second Amendment Sports and said he doesn't see how it would be helpful to notify police.
"It happens too frequently for it to be useful at all to try to weed out people who have hostile intentions," said Bowman.
Skinner's bill isn't the sole effort by Golden State legislators of late to crack down on gun or ammo sales.
State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) says he received a flood of racist and threatening calls and letters after introducing a bill that would ban conversion kits that allow gun owners to skirt state prohibitions on selling guns with detachable magazines or storage areas for repeat firing.
"While most gun owners are law-abiding, it is a fact that such weapons are more likely to be used to kill an innocent person than used in self-defense," said Yee in a press release. "One only needs to look at England, Japan, and other nations with strict gun access to see that these types of gun control laws are effective in preventing gun-related homicides."
On the national scene, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) and Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-New York) have proposed a bill that, much like Skinner's effort, would provide a mechanism for authorities to monitor bullet sales. The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act would require everyone selling bullets online to register with the government, maintain records, check ID for all purchases not made by other licensed dealers and report all unlicensed large-volume ammo sales to police.
What do you think, should gun dealers have to notify the authorities if someone makes a large ammo purchase?