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BREAKING: Odessa Shooter Exploited Deadly Background Check Loophole to Purchase Firearm Used in West Texas Mass Shooting

September 3, 2019

Multiple Media Outlets Reporting that the Odessa Shooter Purchased the Firearm Used in West Texas Mass Shooting from an Unlicensed Seller and Avoided a Background Check that He Could Not Pass

This Weekend Alone, Seven Americans are Dead after a Preventable Mass Shooting, Because the Senate has Refused to Require Background Checks on All Gun Sales

NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety responded to multiple media reports, which appear to confirm that the alleged West Texas mass shooter purchased the assault-style weapon used in the shooting through a private, or unlicensed, seller and avoided undergoing a background check. Commonly known as the background check loophole, federal law does not require a gun buyer to undergo a background check if they are purchasing a firearm from an unlicensed seller. According to media reports, the shooter had previously failed a background check when trying to purchase a firearm.

“This is exhibit A of the deadliness of the background check loophole. This weekend alone, seven Americans are dead after a preventable mass shooting, because the Senate has refused to require background checks on all gun sales,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Americans are tired of excuses: The time for Senate action on background checks is now, and Americans will not be fooled by a weak, ineffective legislative response.”

In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would require background checks on all gun sales, including unlicensed sales between strangers who meet online or at gun shows. Thus far, the U.S. Senate has not taken up legislation that would require background checks on all gun sales.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has researched the background check loophole and previously released a report, “Unchecked,” which detailed an investigation into gun ads posted on in 2018. Armslist, the self-described “largest free gun classifieds on the web,” allows prospective gun buyers to find guns being sold by unlicensed sellers who are not legally required to conduct a background check on the sale. Some findings of the investigation include:

  • The investigation uncovered nearly 1.2 million ads on Armslist for firearm sales that have no legal requirement for a background check. 
  • The investigation also found that, across several states, one in nine people seeking to buy a gun from an unlicensed seller were legally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun — and would have failed a background check at a licensed gun dealer. 
  • In Texas, there were 60,362 ads for firearms where no background check was required in 2018, including nearly 4,500 ads for assault-style rifles. 
  • Background check laws can make the difference: More than 80 percent of unlicensed sellers on the site who were from states with background check laws said that they would require background checks before they would sell a weapon. But only 6 percent of sellers who were from states without similar laws said they would require the checks.

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