In First Week of 116th Congress and Historic Moment for Gun Safety Movement, Legislation Introduced in House and Senate to Update the Background Checks Law to Require Background Checks for All Gun Sales
According to Polling, 85 Percent of Americans Support Background Checks on Gun Sales, Including 79 Percent of Republicans
WASHINGTON – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, today applauded Congress for introducing historic, bipartisan legislation to update the background checks law to require background checks on all gun sales — and called for the legislation to be passed into law. The legislation was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on the eight-year mark of the Tucson, Arizona, mass shooting, in which six people were shot and killed and 13 people shot and wounded, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
H.R. 8 was introduced by five Democrats and five Republicans, including longtime gun safety champions Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Peter King (R-NY), and newly elected Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), an Everytown alumna whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2012 by a man who objected to the music he and his friends were playing in their car. The companion legislation in the Senate, The Background Check Expansion Act, was introduced by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).
STATEMENT FROM JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“The introduction of this bill is a historic moment for the gun safety movement, and a fitting tribute to Gabby Giffords and the millions of Americans who must live with the knowledge that stronger gun laws might have saved themselves or their loved ones from tragedy. We’re deeply grateful to Speaker Pelosi for acting so quickly on her pledge to stand up for the vast majority of Americans who want stronger background checks, which are the foundation of any effective push to prevent gun violence. This bill is further proof that gun safety is no longer the third rail of American politics.”
STATEMENT FROM SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:
“As a grassroots organization made up mostly of type-A mothers who have been fighting on the frontlines of this issue in every corner of the country, I can promise you that we’ll do everything in our power to get this bill over the finish line. Because there is nothing more important than keeping our families safe – and background checks are an essential step towards ending America’s gun violence crisis. I am deeply grateful to Speaker Pelosi, other members of Congress and Gabby Giffords for their leadership.”
STATEMENT FROM ELVIN DANIEL, A MEMBER OF THE EVERYTOWN SURVIVOR NETWORK, GUN OWNER AND NRA MEMBER WHOSE SISTER, ZINA DANIEL, WAS SHOT AND KILLED AT A SALON AND SPA IN BROOKFIELD, WISCONSIN, BY HER ESTRANGED HUSBAND, WHO BOUGHT A GUN WITHOUT A BACKGROUND CHECK IN OCTOBER 2012:
“Having my sister shot and killed by her estranged husband was the worst day of my life. I relive that day over and over, and have to ask myself what could have prevented this shooting. Each time, I’m reminded that a simple background check could have made the difference — a loophole her murderer was able to exploit to obtain a gun and take my sister’s life. No one should have to live through this horror. I’m asking Congress to finally update the background checks law to cover all gun sales — and save people’s lives.”
Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed individuals. This means that anyone can sell a gun to a stranger they meet online or at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked, and no way to know whether the buyer is a criminal or otherwise prohibited from having guns.
Since the background check system was established 25 years ago, Congress has failed to close the loopholes that enable individuals including convicted felons, domestic abusers and people who have been involuntarily committed to buy guns without a background check. In that time, the Internet has emerged as a massive, unregulated marketplace, where hundreds of thousands of gun sales take place with no background check. A recent study suggests nearly a quarter of Americans who obtain a firearm do so without getting a background check. This legislation would update the background checks law to fit the times by requiring background checks on all gun sales — not just those sold in brick-and-mortar stores, but in all the places they’re sold today, including online or at gun shows.
In the face of previous Congressional inaction, gun violence prevention advocates including Moms Demand Action volunteers have successfully pressured states to take the lead on this issue. Last year, Vermont became the 20th state to go beyond federal law and require a background check on every gun sale. And, this year, states including Minnesota, New Mexico, Delaware, Nevada and Florida are expected to consider bills to strengthen the background check system.
More information about background checks is available at www.everytown.org/backgroundchecks.