State Headliners: Attorney General Donovan wants federal background checks for ammo purchases

By Guy Page

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has asked the U.S. Congress to enact mandatory background checks on purchasers of ammunition.

In a Sept. 23 letter, Donovan and 21 other state attorneys general asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several other leaders and committee chairs to enact the so-called “Jaime’s Law,” which would “require background checks for ammunition purchases, building on current federal requirements for background checks on firearms purchases.”

Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

The House bill, HR 1705, is expected to be heard this fall in the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a co-sponsor of the bill.  Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) is not a sponsor. Lead sponsor is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida and 74 co-sponsors are all Democrats.

The letter signed by Donovan affirms that “each of us swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the rights of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms … but we need additional tools” because “existing law has too many loopholes that can be exploited by individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms. We must close these loopholes, starting with ammunition sales.”

A new California law that took effect June 30 requires background checks for purchases of ammunition. A court challenge to the new law asserts that up to 60% of the would-be purchasers of ammunition would fail the background check due to its stringent requirements. California already has some of the toughest gun restrictions in the nation, and ammo dealers and buyers are both concerned the new law will raise costs and limit accessibility, as well as violate the spirit and plain reading of the Second Amendment.

One Vermonter responded to Donovan’s letter with this emailed comment to Headliners: “Our Attorney General is on the war path against the 2nd Amendment, and Article 16. Think about the time, work, and money involved in having the FBI do a background check on every box of shotgun shells or handgun or rifle cartridges! The price of ammo is going to go through the roof! Do you suppose that is the plan?”

At present, no California-style ammo background check bill has been introduced into the 2019-2020 Vermont Legislature. Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution reads:
“Article 16. [Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to civil]
That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State–and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/AntiqueGunRoom