Legislation was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday that would require background checks for people who purchase explosive powder.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., authored the bill and says the introduction is a response to the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“It defies common sense that anyone, even a terrorist, can walk into a store in America and buy explosive powders without a background check or any questions asked,” Lautenberg, who has been away from Congress for health reasons, said in a statement. “Requiring a background check for an explosives permit is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our communities.”
As reported by The Hill this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced the bill on behalf of the absent Lautenberg, who points out in his statement that explosive powders were also used by the Columbine High School killers to construct pipe bombs. The accused Boston bombers, who packed pressure cookers with explosives and bits of metal, bought the three pounds of explosive powder they needed from a fireworks shop in New Hampshire.
Lautenberg says current law permits anyone to purchase up to 50 pounds of explosive powder. Lautenberg’s bill would require a background check for buying various types of explosive powders and would give the Homeland Security secretary the power to stop sales to individuals who trigger suspicions during a background check.
The bill would also direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to study the idea of tracking, or tagging explosives, “particularly black powder, black powder substitute, and smokeless powder, which could enable law enforcement to detect, identify, and trace explosives used in crimes.”