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Democrats propose background checks for ammunition sales in Florida

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Florida law requires criminal background checks on gun sales, but not to purchase ammunition.

Democrats in the Florida legislature are working to close a "loophole" in state law that allows people to buy ammunition without undergoing a background check.

State law prohibits people with felony records from buying ammunition, but doesn't require everyone to undergo a criminal background check to purchase bullets and shells. Right now, a background check is required to purchase a gun.

"If guns require a background check, then so should the bullets that do the harm,” said Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) in a recent statement. Polsky is sponsoring the measure — SB 146 — which would require weapons dealers to perform a criminal background check on buyers who want to purchase ammunition.

The bill wouldn't require background checks for the transfer of ammunition at a shooting range or for hunting, as long as there's no reason to believe the person using the ammunition plans to break any laws.

The proposed measure is called "Jaime's Law." It's named after 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who lost her life in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

In a statement, Jaime's father Fred Guttenberg said that he believes the measure would "help save lives immediately."

“If someone is prohibited from buying a firearm then it would only make sense they would also be prohibited from purchasing ammunition," he said. "We must close this ammunition loophole and this bill is a step in the right direction to do it."

Rep. Dan Daley (D-Coral Springs) is sponsoring the measure — HB 151 — in the House. Daley said in a statement he has pushed for the legislation during the last three regular lawmaking sessions.

“As a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and as a member of the community affected by this tragedy, I am deeply committed to ensuring that such an event never occurs again," Daley said. "This bill is a step in the right direction and should receive wide bipartisan support."

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.