Support Expanded Background Checks for Gun Purchases - Passed House

UPDATE (02/28/19): The House has passed H.R. 8 in a 240-190 vote on Wednesday February 27th and passed H.R. 1112 on Thursday, February 28th in a 228-198 vote. These bills represent the first major gun violence prevention legislation to pass in the House for over 2 decades. Both pieces of legislation now move to the Senate for consideration.

As mass shootings have become an epidemic reaching all corners of American society, it is clearer than ever that our approach to gun policy and gun violence must change. One such necessary change is to close background check loopholes. Currently, background checks are mandatory for commercial gun sales but not for purchases made through private sellers, at gun shows, or online.

To fix this serious problem, the Senate and House have introduced 3 pieces of legislation that would make background checks nearly universal. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has introduced the Background Check Expansion Act, (S. 42), along with 40 Democrat co-sponsors. And in the House Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) has introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 8, named to commemorate the 8-year anniversary of former Representative Gabby Gifford’s near fatal shooting. The legislation would close the "gun show loophole" by mandating that all sellers run potential buyer information through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), including online and private sales. The bill maintains some exceptions for law enforcement officials, loans for hunting and sporting events, and for transfer between family members. Gun reform organizations estimate 20% or more of gun sales currently don’t include a background check, illustrating the clear need for the new legislation.

In addition to S. 42/H.R. 8, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) has introduced H.R. 1112, which would end the "Charleston loophole," a gap in the law that allows some gun sales to proceed without a completed background check, as was the case with mass murderer Dylann Roof. With some purchases, the FBI’s NISC system is unable to make an immediate determination on a buyer. Under current law, the FBI has 3 business days to continue to investigate the buyer. If the FBI has not concluded the investigation after 3 days, the seller has the discretion to sell the firearm despite the lack of a completed background check. H.R. 1112 would attempt to close this loophole by extending the investigative time to 10 business days.

Gun reform organizations estimate 20% or more of gun sales currently don’t include a background check, illustrating the clear need for the new legislation. Public support for expanded background checks has risen to over 90%, proving now is the time for Congress to take action against rampant gun violence in our country.

Contacts for this topic: