WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have joined Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and their Democratic colleagues in introducing the Background Check Expansion Act. This legislation would expand federal background checks to the sale or transfer of all firearms by private sellers, with certain reasonable exceptions. Under current law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm.
Research indicates that as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check even though 90 percent of Americans support comprehensive background checks.
“It should not matter whether you buy a gun at a local gun store or at a gun show or on the Internet, you should have to pass a background check so we can make sure guns are kept out of the hands of people who should never have one,” said Senator Cardin. “The time for talk is over. We, as a nation, as a community, and as an American family, must take actions to change minds, hearts, and, finally, change our laws. The use of a universal background check will have no impact on the legitimate needs of people who are entitled to have a weapon, but it makes no sense that felons, fugitives, and others who are legally prohibited from having a gun can easily use a loophole to buy a gun.”
“We must never become numb to the carnage from gun violence, from the daily toll in our neighborhoods to massacres like Las Vegas and Sandy Hook,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This is not normal. We need to unite and take common-sense steps to reduce the death count. That’s why I support this legislation to expand background checks. This bill will not end all gun violence, but it will save lives. I urge my colleagues to take action on this issue now – it simply cannot wait.”
The Background Check Expansion Act will require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms from one private party (i.e. a person who is not federally licensed) to another. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home. Private sellers would need to visit a licensed firearms dealer to run the necessary background check before any gun sale is finalized. 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 Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Calif.), 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.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) cosponsored the legislation.
Full text of the bill is here.