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Should Ammunition Face More Government Regulation?

Mass shootings are as much about the free trade of bullets as they are about gun sales. Time and time again, after a mass shooting it emerges that the shooter was carrying enough weaponry to kill everyone inside a school, movie theater, grocery store, or even a full-sized mall, reports USA Today. It's not hard for killers to build a significant arsenal of assault rifles, handguns, high-capacity magazines and bullets. Each year billions of bullets are sold in the U.S., making bullet sales a booming business. A recent trade report estimated the global small-caliber ammunition market is expected to reach $11.30 billion by 2030. Gun sales have ramped up, hitting buying highs even during pandemic-related ammunition shortages. The U.S. government and munitions manufacturers have reported increased sales and higher prices by resellers as buyers stockpiled bullets and guns. After a mass shooting, public attention turns to a debate on the control of guns. "Ammunition plays a large role in mass shootings, and ammunition has been historically less regulated than firearms themselves," said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who oversees a newly erected office designed to sue gun and ammunition manufacturers when their products cause harm.

It’s remarkably easy for anyone to obtain large quantities of ammunition, said Ari Freilich of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, led by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 mass shooting. In most places, people can go online and have hundreds or thousands of bullets delivered to their door, “as if ordering a pizza,” he said. Proponents say lower capacities on magazines would force an attacker to stop to reload a weapon more often, providing more opportunity for others to either subdue the shooter or escape. Freilich noted that when Giffords was shot, bystanders used an opportune moment when the shooter was reloading his weapon to subdue him. Some 55 percent in a June 2022 Gallup survey support banning the sale and possession of magazines with capacities higher than 10 rounds. A National Rifle Association spokesperson said that flagging bulk purchases of ammunition as suspicious is misguided, based on misconceptions about firearms and ammunition. “Gun owners who shoot often will regularly purchase thousands of rounds of ammunition per transaction. Purchases of this nature happen daily. Some law-abiding gun owners may use hundreds of rounds of ammunition simply practicing at the range,” the NRA’s Amy Hunter said. “Competitive shooters will easily go through a thousand rounds, or more, of ammunition in a single day. And, just like any consumer, gun owners often stock up when they see a good buy.”

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