Bill inspired by Parkland mass shootings would close ammunition-purchase loophole

Florida Capitol, Colin Hackley

Legislation has been filed for next year’s session of the Florida Legislature that would close a loophole that can allow people barred from owning firearms because of criminal histories to nevertheless purchase ammunition without a background check.

The proposal (HB 25) is similar to a similar bill that failed during last year’s session. It’s called “Jaime’s Law,” after Jaime Guttenberg, aged 14, one of the 17 people killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Dan Daley
Dan Daley

“As a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, nothing is more important to me than preventing another tragedy like what our community experienced from ever happening again,” bill sponsor Dan Daley, a Democrat from Coral Springs, said in written statement.

“Jaime’s Law is a huge step in the right direction towards ensuring that weapons and ammunition stay out of dangerous hands. It’s also common sense and does not restrict the rights of legal gun owners,” he said.

Bartenders are required to card people who order beers, he noted. “Why isn’t a vendor required by law to ensure that someone seeking to purchase ammunition is legally allowed to do so?”

Daley filed similar legislation last year, as did Sen. Lauren Book, also a Broward Democrat, but it failed.

Existing law requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks on buyers and to refuse purchasers who have felony convictions, histories of domestic violence, or mental illness. But the law doesn’t apply to ammo sales.

Daley’s bill would require that purchase records for law-abiding people remain confidential. It cites an existing ban on any gun registration lists. The Legislature when passing that ban declared such a list “an instrument that can be used as a means to profile innocent citizens and to harass and abuse American citizens based solely on their choice to own firearms and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution.”

Following the Parkland shootings, the 2018 Legislature voted to let some school personnel carry guns on campus and the next year to allow teachers to carry under some circumstances.

Gun reform advocate Fred Guttenberg, Jaime’s father, has endorsed the proposal

“With approximately 400 million weapons already on the streets, we must make it harder for those who intend to kill to do so,” he said.

“Prohibited purchasers of weapons are also prohibited from buying ammunition, but there is no mechanism in place to keep that ammunition out of their hands. We must close this ammunition loophole and this bill is a step in the right direction to do it. Jaime’s Law will help save lives immediately.”