RELEASE: New CAP report digs into the unregulated and largely overlooked role of the ammunition industry on gun violence

Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress on Monday published a new report examining the role that weak oversight of the ammunition industry and numerous gaps in the law related to commerce in ammunition contribute to the epidemic of gun violence in the United States that kills nearly 100 people every day. This report seeks to expand the national conversation about gun violence beyond a focus on laws and policies related to firearms to also consider how the failure to adequately regulate the ammunition industry plays a key role.

“Often missing from the gun debate is a recognition that the guns are only half of the problem – porous laws and inadequate oversight related to ammunition are also a key component of our country’s gun violence problem,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president of gun violence prevention policy. “While we need to maintain a focus on closing the deadly gaps in our nation’s gun laws, we need to also expand our focus to include the myriad ways that our approach to ammunition is putting all of our communities at risk.”

The report highlights a number of gaps in the current federal law and regulatory oversight of the ammunition industry and offers a series of policy recommendations, including:

  • Require background checks for ammunition sales
  • Require ammunition vendors to become licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and report bulk ammunition purchases.
  • Increase oversight of online ammunition sales
  • Fully implement the ban on armor-piercing ammunition
  • Ban high-capacity magazines and .50-caliber ammunition
  • Increase excise taxes on ammunition to support gun violence prevention efforts
  • Ban the use of lead ammunition on federal conservation lands

“The failure to regulate ammunition as a potentially dangerous consumer product is a grave mistake,” said Mark D. Jones, a former special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who provided technical assistance for the report. “Uncontrolled distribution of firearms ammunition fuels gun violence in America and deprives law enforcement of important intelligence information and investigative leads. This report offers some transparency in this usually opaque sector of the firearms market and will interest anyone who is concerned about gun violence in our country.”

Related resource: “Fact Sheet: Bullet Control” by Chelsea Parsons and Rukmani Bhatia

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