Topic:
FIREARMS; LEGISLATION; GUN CONTROL; PERMITS; LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES; PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE;
Location:
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES; WEAPONS - GUN CONTROL;

OLR Research Report


February 14, 2007

 

2007-R-0203

PERMIT TO BUY AMMUNITION AND LIMITS ON GUN PURCHASES

By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst

You asked us to provide synopses of four bills before the Public Safety and Security Committee and answer related questions on the bills.

SYNOPSES OF BILLS

Proposed Bill 935 requires anyone selling any type of gun ammunition to have a Department of Public Safety permit. Currently, anyone in the business of selling firearms must be licensed as a federal firearms dealer, and if the person is selling handguns, he must have a local permit as well. But a person dealing solely in ammunition does not have to obtain a license or permit.

Proposed Bill 939 requires anyone buying handgun ammunition to have a permit to carry handguns or an eligibility certificate to acquire them. Under existing state law, a permit is required to carry, and an eligibility certificate or permit is required to acquire, handguns. As a condition of getting these documents, applicants must undergo criminal history record checks. No permit or certificate is required for buying ammunition.

Proposed Bill 936 prohibits anyone from buying ammunition with the intent of selling or transferring it to anyone prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Existing state law prohibits purchasing firearms intending to transfer them to people prohibited from acquiring or possessing them (CGS 29-37j). The law does not address ammunition purchases and transfers.

Proposed Bill 938 restricts gun purchases to one per-person per-month. Advocates say one-gun-per-month laws will reduce gun trafficking by people who buy guns in bulk (straw purchasers) and resell them to people prohibited from buying or possessing guns. Critics say these laws unfairly penalize legitimate gun buyers and do nothing to reduce violent crimes.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Does federal law restrict who may receive or possess ammunition?

Federal law prohibits an individual from acquiring or possessing ammunition if he:

1. has been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment,

2. is a fugitive from justice,

3. unlawfully uses or is addicted to any controlled substance,

4. has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution,

5. is an alien illegally in the United States or an alien admitted under a nonimmigrant visa,

6. has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions,

7. has renounced his U.S. citizenship,

8. is subject a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or such partner's child, or

9. has been convicted of a domestic violence crime.

The law also prohibits anyone under indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year from lawfully acquiring a ammunition (18 USC 922(g) and (n), 27 CFR 478.32). But he may continue to lawfully possess ammunition obtained before the indictment or information, according to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF).

Does federal law place any age restriction on ammunition sellers and purchasers?

Under federal law, it is illegal to sell (1) long gun ammunition to anyone under age 18 and (2) handgun ammunition to anyone under age 21 (18 USC 922(b)(1), 27 CFR 478.99(b)). According to BATF, a licensee may sell interchangeable ammunition such as a .22 cal. rimfire to a person less than age 21 (but age 18 or older) if the dealer is satisfied that the ammunition is for use in a rifle. If the ammunition is intended for use in a handgun, the 21-year-old minimum age requirement applies.

Does federal law require a person engaged in the business of selling small arms ammunition to be licensed?

Federal law does not require a person dealing solely in ammunition to be licensed. But it requires ammunition manufacturers and importers to be licensed (18 USC 922(a)(1)(B)).

Does any state limit the number of firearms a person may purchase in any given period?

Three states currently do so. These are California, Maryland, and Virginia.

Under California law, an individual may not buy more than one handgun (or other concealable firearm) within any 30-day period (Cal. Penal Code 12072(a)(9)(A)). And a dealer is prohibited from delivering a handgun to a prospective purchaser if the California Department of Justice informs him that the person applied to buy a handgun (or a concealed firearm) within the preceding 30-day period (Cal. Penal Code 12072(c)(6)). Dealers must post on their premises a conspicuous warning in block letters at least one inch high about the prohibitions on purchase applications and dealer delivery of handguns within any 30-day period (Cal. Penal Code 12071(b)(7)(F)).

The restrictions do not apply to:

1. law enforcement agencies and agencies duly authorized to perform law enforcement duties,

2. correctional facilities,

3. licensed private security companies doing business in the state,

4. full-time peace officers authorized to carry firearms in the course and scope of their employment,

5. any motion picture, television, or video production company or entertainment or theatrical company whose production involves the firearm use,

6. anyone whom may claim an exemption from the waiting period for firearm purchases,

7. any licensed collector who has a Department of Justice eligiblity certificate,

8. exchanges or replacements within 30 days after the original transaction, or

9. firearms being returned to their owners (Cal. Penal Code 12072(a)(9)(A)).

With minor exceptions, a person may not purchase more than one “regulated firearm” (handgun or assault weapon) in a 30-day period, under Maryland law (Md. Code Ann. 5-128(b)). In limited situations, a person may apply to the Maryland State Police to make purchases above the limit (Md. Code Ann. 5-129).

The limitations do not apply to:

1. law enforcement agencies and agencies duly authorized to perform law enforcement duties,

2. correctional facilities,

3. licensed private security companies doing business in the state,

4. antique firearm purchases,

5. purchases by licensees,

6. exchanges or replacements within 30 days after the original transaction, or

7. anyone whose handgun is stolen or irretrievably lost and who deems its immediate replacement essential (Md. Code Ann. 5-128(a) and (b)).

With some exceptions, Virginia limits handgun purchases by anyone not licensed as a gun dealer to one per 30-day period (Va. Code Ann. 18.2-308.2:2(P)). Prospective purchasers who complete an “enhanced background check” and a special State Police application and meet other requirements may make a one-time purchase above the limit.

The limitations do not apply to:

1. law-enforcement agencies and agencies duly authorized to perform law enforcement duties,

2. law enforcement officers,

3. correctional facilities,

4. licensed private security companies doing business in Virginia,

5. antique firearm purchases,

6. anyone whose handgun is stolen or irretrievably lost and who deems its immediate replacement essential,

7. anyone who trades in a handgun at the same time he buys one as a part of the same transaction (provided that no more than one transaction of this nature is completed per day),

8. anyone who holds a valid Virginia permit to carry a concealed handgun, and

9. anyone who buys a handgun in a private sale (Va.Code Ann. 18.2-308.2:2(P)(2)).

VR:ts/dw