According to The Texan, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) criticized background checks on all gun sales––a bipartisan and immensely popular policy––during his reelection kickoff event this weekend, and said, “You can’t connect universal background checks to reducing gun violence.” Here’s why he’s wrong:
Background checks are proven to save lives and make communities safer:
- Background checks are associated with decreased rates of homicide, suicide, and gun trafficking.
- Since 1994, over 3.5 million sales have been blocked to violent criminals and other prohibited people. And in 2017 alone, over 170,000 sales were denied—39 percent of them to convicted felons.
- When Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks on all handgun sales, it was associated with a 40 percent reduction in the gun homicide rate. By contrast, when Missouri repealed its law requiring background checks, the state experienced an up to 27 percent increase in its firearm homicide rate.
The 2019 West Texas mass shooting + background checks in Texas:
- The shooter in last year’s West Texas mass shooting exploited background check loopholes to buy the gun he used to kill 7 and wound 22 more.
- An investigation found that in 2018 alone, there were 60,362 ads in Texas on Armslist.com for firearm sales that would not require a background check. Background checks laws are proven to make online marketplaces like Armslist.com safer, but there’s no state law in Texas requiring background checks on all gun sales, which means that guns are easy to acquire with no background check and no questions asked.
- Of those looking to purchase firearms on Armslist.com, nearly 1 in 9 prospective buyers were legally prohibited from buying a gun for reasons such as a history of domestic abuse or felonies. That rate is 7 times higher than buyers who fail background checks in other contexts.
- Every year in Texas, more than 3,200 people are killed with guns and thousands more are shot and wounded.
Rep. Crenshaw’s comments come just days after the one year anniversary of the U.S. House passing H.R. 8, a bipartisan bill to require background checks on all gun sales. Rep. Crenshaw voted against the bill; in doing so, he sided with the NRA––which gave him an “A” rating and endorsed his campaign in 2018.
For the anniversary of H.R. 8, gun violence prevention activists, law enforcement officials, survivors of gun violence, and allied lawmakers came together in Texas on Saturday to hold members of Congress accountable for their opposition to the bill. Texas gun violence survivor Mariam El-Haj also published an op-ed about the anniversary, which ended with a message to Texas representatives: “If our representatives in Congress and the State House won’t listen to the overwhelming number of Texans who support background checks on all gun sales, then we’ll vote against them this November. I’ll bet they’ll start listening then.”
Background checks on all gun sales is a broadly popular policy, both in Texas and across America. 86 percent of Texas voters support background checks on all gun sales, and a majority don’t believe elected officials have done enough to prevent mass shootings. Additionally, 93 percent of American voters support requiring background checks on all gun sales, including 89 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of gun owners.