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Senators Introduce Background Check Expansion Act to Reduce Gun Violence

Washington – Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), on Tuesday in reintroducing the Background Check Expansion Act to expand federal background checks to all gun sales. Under current federal law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm. 97% of Americans support comprehensive background checks. Research indicates that as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check.

“97% of Americans agree—if you can’t pass a background check, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. I’m proud to introduce the Background Check Expansion Act as my first bill. Voters stood up this fall and made it clear they want Congress to do more to keep our kids safe from gun violence. We need to listen to them and pass our bill to save lives,” said Senator Murphy.

“The lives lost in the tragic mass shootings in Parkland and Las Vegas, as well as those lost every day in communities across the country, should serve as a wakeup call to the nation that the status quo is not cutting it. From my earliest days in Congress, I have been fighting tooth and nail to advance commonsense gun safety legislation— including authoring the original Brady Bill, which requires a reasonable waiting period before completing a firearm purchase,” said Senate Democratic Leader Schumer. “Senator Murphy’s bill, which closes loopholes in the existing background check system, is an important, broadly supported and long-overdue step in the right direction and will ensure that fewer lives are lost to guns in the hands of those who should not have them.” 

“Support for universal background checks is nearly unanimous among Americans these days, with 97 percent of Americans supporting required background checks on all gun sales—including 97 percent of gun owners.  This number is absolutely overwhelming.  It’s time for Republicans to join with Democrats and nearly all Americans in support of universal background checks,” said  Senator Durbin.   

“We must have a national standard: No background check, no sale.” said Senator Blumenthal “We have already seen background checks save lives in Connecticut, but guns have no respect for state borders or state laws. Expanding federal background checks—a common sense idea supported by more than 90 percent of Americans—would protect American families and prevent senseless tragedy. My Republican colleagues should muster their conscience and conviction to quickly pass this bill,” said Blumenthal. “In this past election, gun violence prevention was on the ballot and gun violence prevention won. We’re now at a tipping point—on the cusp of breaking the grip of the NRA and special interests who are in the way of reasonable reforms. Beginning with background checks, we must seize this historic opportunity to move forward on common sense gun safety measures that will end the American epidemic of gun violence.”

“I’m proud to join Senator Murphy in introducing legislation that closes the loophole that allows the purchase or transfer of guns without a background check,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This is an essential first step toward ensuring we reduce the number of mass shootings in America, keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and save lives. We owe it to victims and families affected by gun violence – in Las Vegas, Newtown, and across America – to pass this commonsense gun safety measure to help address the epidemic of gun violence.”

The Background Checks Expansion Act will require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home. Exceptions to the Background Check Expansion Act include transfers between law enforcement officers, temporarily loaning firearms for hunting and sporting events, providing firearms as gifts to immediate family members, transferring a firearm as part of an inheritance, or temporarily transferring a firearm for immediate self-defense.

In addition to Feinstein, Murphy, Schumer, Durbin, Blumenthal and Cortez Masto, the bill was also cosponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Timothy Kaine (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Full text of the bill is here.