WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) led 47 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday in reintroducing the Background Check Expansion Act to expand federal background checks to all gun sales. Although more than 90 percent of Americans support comprehensive background checks, under current federal 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. U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Background Check 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.

“I’ve introduced this legislation every Congress since 2017, and more and more Senators have joined our cause each time. That’s because there are few things more popular than universal background checks – not even apple pie. Expanding background checks for buyers under 21 in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act has already proven effective, but we can do better. Requiring a background check for every sale or transfer of a firearm would save thousands and thousands of lives,” said Murphy.

“I’ve spent my entire career fighting for vital and common sense gun control legislation, not just Majority Leader, but as the author of the Brady Bill over 30 years ago. I was proud to have shepherded meaningful and lifesaving gun legislation through the last congress, but we cannot and will not stop there. Requiring comprehensive background checks to buy a gun is a vital and common sense step to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous and save lives throughout the country,” said Schumer.   

“The overwhelming majority of Americans support ensuring background checks on every gun sale.  It’s common sense,” said Durbin.  “The loopholes in our current system make it far too easy for a gun to end up in the hands of someone who could be a danger to themselves or others.  Legislation like the Background Check Expansion Act, which would close the gaps in the firearms background check system, is long overdue.  We owe it to every community that has suffered as a result of gun violence.”

“The Background Check Expansion Act is a common sense, lifesaving measure that will spare countless communities from the terror, tragedy, and trauma of gun violence,” said Blumenthal. “Congressional action is long overdue. I’ll keep fighting until it happens.” 

In addition to Murphy, Schumer, Durbin, Blumenthal, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), and John Fetterman (D-Pa.) co-sponsored the bill.

“We applaud Sen. Murphy for introducing the ‘Background Check Expansion Act.’ Last year, Congress took a bold step forward on background checks in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Background Check Expansion Act will further strengthen this important component of safe gun ownership,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on December 14, 2012. “Background checks are proven to be effective at reducing gun violence and we need to do all we can to end this epidemic plaguing our nation.”

"Universal background checks are essential to addressing the gun violence epidemic our country is facing. Senator Murphy has been a staunch leader for gun safety measures in the Senate and we are grateful to him for introducing the Background Check Expansion Act," said Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Founder of Giffords. "The overwhelming majority of Americans support this critical legislation. There have been more mass shootings in 2023 than days in the year, Congress must pass universal background checks to help prevent future tragedies."

“Background checks are the foundation of any common-sense approach to preventing gun violence, which is why more than 90 percent of Americans support them,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown applauds Senator Murphy’s tireless efforts to build on his work successfully passing the first gun safety law in 30 years by championing this crucial and common-sense step to keep guns out of dangerous hands.”

“The daily toll of our nation’s gun violence epidemic serves as a deadly reminder that further action is needed to save lives — and that starts with passing common-sense legislation that requires background checks on all gun sales,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Background checks keep guns out of the hands of hundreds of thousands people each year who shouldn’t have them — and we applaud Senator Murphy for working to close the loopholes that currently allow anyone to go and buy a gun from an unlicensed seller.”

"The Brady Background Checks system, established over 25 years ago, has prevented over four million prohibited gun purchases and has saved countless lives. However, approximately 1 in every 5 gun sales is still completed without a background check. The legislation would close existing loopholes in the system and expand background checks to all firearms sales, ensuring that guns are kept out of the dangerous hands of prohibited buyers. Brady is proud to endorse this important legislation that will help us better protect our families and communities,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady.

Full text of the bill can be found here.