Background Check Completion Act would close ‘default to proceed’ loophole that allows gun sales to individuals not legally allowed to have firearms if background check is not completed after 72 hours
FBI data shows estimates of more than ten prohibited people a day are sold guns by dealers who do not wait for completed background check; more than 15,000 gun sales to prohibited individuals over the last five years have occurred because of loophole
Watch the full press conference HERE or below
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced new legislation they are leading that would to close a current loophole that allows gun sales to proceed if a background check is not completed after 72 hours, even if the gun buyer is not legally allowed to purchase a gun. When a criminal background check indicates that a firearm purchaser may have a criminal record, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tries to determine whether the purchaser can legally buy a gun. If this process takes longer than 72 hours, gun dealers can complete the sale even though there is a heightened risk that the purchaser is legally disqualified from purchasing a gun.
The Background Check Completion Act would require a completed background check for every gun buyer who purchases a gun from a federally-licensed gun dealer, closing the loophole that has allowed thousands of gun sales to prohibited buyers, including the sale of the firearm used by Dylann Roof in his deadly attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in June.
“No check, no sale must be the rule – enacted as law – to close a gaping loophole spreading the epidemic of gun violence,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Over the past five years, 15,700 ineligible buyers have acquired guns simply because a background check could not be completed within 72 hours. One of them was Dylann Roof, who killed nine innocent churchgoers in Charleston with a gun he was ineligible to buy. Waiting for a background check, even if longer than 72 hours, is a minor inconvenience far outweighed by the benefit of keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. No background check, no gun, is a rule that can help save lives. The gun violence epidemic is a public health crisis-- a contagion that can be stopped with common sense sensible measures like closing this loophole. Despite the distortion and dishonesty of single-issue groups like the NRA, the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, believe in background checks and want the system to work well.”
“Right now, a criminal can buy a gun if the FBI can’t complete their background check in three days. That makes absolutely no sense. If it takes an extra day or two to make sure we’re not arming violent offenders, it’s worth the wait,” said Senator Murphy. “No Check, No Sale will inject reason back into the law and give law enforcement the time they need to do their jobs. It’s a simple solution that might have prevented the tragic deaths of nine innocent men and women in a Charleston church last summer. It’s time for Congress to act to reduce gun violence and save lives.”
“Current law allows gun sales to proceed even if background checks aren’t approved within 72 hours, a dangerous loophole that allows criminals to legally purchase firearms,” said Senator Feinstein. “The shooter in Charleston would have failed his background check if the law had allowed it to be completed. This commonsense proposal will ensure all background checks are completed before sales can move forward.”
“Senators Blumenthal, Murphy and Feinstein have proposed meaningful legislation that would close the loophole in our law that allows dangerous people to arm themselves despite an incomplete background check,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “What we saw this summer in Charleston is just one example of the more than 15,000 gun sales to dangerous people in the past five years that have gone through without a completed background check. It’s time for Congress to re-write the rules and put public safety ahead of gun lobby interests.”
“For too long, our legislators have prioritized gun industry profits over the safety of our families,” said Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “This bill is an important signal that we value the lives of our loved ones far too much to allow guns to be transferred without a complete background check.”
Several gun retailers, including Walmart, the nation’s largest, have voluntarily chosen to only proceed with gun sales after a background check is completed. In July, Blumenthal and Murphy, with eleven of their Senate colleagues, wrote to three companies that currently allow default sales imploring them to cease the practice that has potentially deadly consequences. To date, no company has responded to the senators’ requests.
Joining Blumenthal, Murphy and Feinstein as co-sponsors of the legislation are Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
Speaking at a press conference announcing the legislation were Senators Blumenthal, Murphy, Durbin, Boxer, Kaine, Warren, and Menendez. Video of the press conference is below.