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Ammunition age limit bill introduced

Sen. John Kane, D-Chester, speaks at a recent news conference in support of legislation to pass Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Pennsylvania.

Legislation has been introduced in the state Senate to require anyone purchasing firearm ammunition to show photo identification and to no longer sell assault weapons to those under 21.

S.1302 was introduced by Sen. John Kane, D-Chester, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s unlikely the bill will advance to the Senate floor for approval.

“Gun violence is prevalent in America and its web of impact spreads to reach everyone including children. Forty-eight children under the age of 19 are shot every day in the United States, resulting in 2,900 deaths and 14,500 injuries each year. Folks, these are kids that we’re talking about,” Kane wrote in his legislative memorandum. “We can enact an easy, common sense, requirement to protect children and all Pennsylvanians from gun violence. Existing Pennsylvania law prohibits ammunition from being sold to anyone who the seller has reasonable cause to believe is younger than 18 or 21 depending on the type of ammunition that will be purchased. However, sellers are not required to verify the buyer’s age by checking their ID. This legislation would require all individuals to provide an official form of photographic identification with every purchase of firearm ammunition in the Commonwealth. It would reinforce current law to ensure that firearm ammunition is not sold to underage children.”

The 1968 federal Gun Control Act created a federal requirement that ammunition for shotguns or rifles be sold only to those ages 18 and older, and all ammunition for firearms other than shotguns or rifles be limited to those age 21 or older. The federal law does allow state or local governments to set a higher age for the purchase or disposition of firearms.

Sixteen states have laws with age limits for ammunition, seven of which have a minimum age of 21. Additionally, some private companies like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods chose several years ago to sell firearms and ammunition only to those who can prove they are at least 21 years of age.

Kane is also proposing a prohibition on sale or possession of assault weapons by anyone under the age of 21. Similar legislation has been signed into law in New York state this year,

Kane’s legislation defines an assault weapon as any semiautomatic rifle that can accept a detachable .44 magazine or has at least one of the following characteristics:

¯ folding or telescoping stock;

¯ pistol grip that protrudes beneath the action of the rifle;

¯ a thumbhole stock, a second handgrip or a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand;

¯ a bayonet mount, flash suppressor, muzzle break or muzzle compensator;

¯ threaded parrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, muzzle break or muzzle compensator, or

¯ a grenade launcher.

“All too frequently we turn on the news and are greeted by the horrifying scenes of mass shootings. Newtown, Conn., Parkland, Fla., and now Uvalde, Texas,” Kane wrote in his legislative justification. “These scenes are just reminders for the devastation and harm firearms can bring to innocent people. Ensuring that actions like these are rare, and children should be able to go to school without fearing for their lives should be our utmost priority. Simply raising the minimum age required to purchase an assault weapon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would go a far way in securing the safety of our children and grandchildren. As it stands, being able to acquire assault weapons at the age of 18 is a danger not only to teenagers but their community as well.”

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