WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to close a current loophole that allows gun sales to proceed if a background check is not completed within a specific time period, even if the gun buyer is not legally allowed to purchase a gun. The gap in existing law has allowed thousands of gun sales to prohibited buyers, including the sale of the firearm used by the shooter in the deadly attack at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. U.S. Representative James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“We know that universal background checks save lives,” said Senator Cardin. “Let’s finally do what the American people support and require federal background checks for all gun sales. This cannot wait.”
“This dangerous loophole has allowed gun dealers to put deadly firearms in the hands of buyers who haven’t even passed a simple background check – closing it is just common sense,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“If you haven’t passed a background check, you shouldn’t be able to purchase a weapon. No check, no gun. It’s really that simple,” said Senator Blumenthal.
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 for those 21 years of age or older, or 10 days for those under 21, 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.
Senators Van Hollen and Cardin have long pushed for common-sense legislative action to protect communities from gun violence. The Senators fought to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, legislation that was signed into law last year, which included first steps to prevent gun violence and save lives across the country. This past January, the Senators joined in introducing a pair of bills to reinstate the assault weapons ban. The Senators have also previously introduced the Keep Americans Safe Act to ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Senator Van Hollen has also introduced both the ATF Improvement and Modernization (AIM) Act to better equip the ATF to crack down on gun violence and the illegal use of firearms and the Handgun Permit-to-Purchase Act to incentivize state and local governments to implement permit-to-purchase laws that require individuals to obtain a license before purchasing a handgun.
In addition to Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, the Background Check Completion Act, led by Senator Blumenthal, is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).
The legislation has been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Brady, Sandy Hook Promise and Newtown Action Alliance.