Reid bill would require background checks to purchase explosives

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require background checks to be run on anyone buying explosive powder, a reaction to last week's Boston Marathon bombing.

Reid introduced the bill, S. 792, for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has been out sick for much of the year. But in a press statement, Lautenberg said the Boston bombing shows that background checks are needed for explosive materials.

"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 said Tuesday. "Requiring a background check for an explosives permit is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our communities.

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Under current law, people can buy up to 50 pounds of explosive "black powder" with no background check, and can buy unlimited amounts of other explosive powders, such as "black powder substitute" and "smokeless powder."

Lautenberg's bill would require a background check for the purchase of any of these powders.

It would also let the attorney general stop the sale of explosives if a background check shows the applicant is a known or suspected terrorist, and if there is a belief the explosives will be used for terrorism.

It would also require a permit to make homemade explosives, and direct the government to study how to better trace the use of explosive powders.