WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) led 45 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and U.S. Senators 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. U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Background checks are simple, easy, and they save lives. That's why more than 90 percent of Americans support our legislation to make sure no guns are sold in this country without a background check,” said Murphy. “Joe Biden and hundreds of congressional candidates from both parties ran on the issue of background checks. This is the year to get this bill passed into law. And this legislation has the chance to bring this country together – even 85 percent of gun owners believe in expanding background checks, and a growing anti-gun violence movement, made up of both Democrats and Republicans, is demanding change. I look forward to working across the aisle to get background checks legislation across the finish line.”
“Ending the epidemic gun violence starts with meaningful and commonsense reforms,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “This legislation will take the long-overdue step of closing dangerous loopholes in the existing background check system to help keep all of our communities safe. For years, this bipartisan House-passed background checks bill languished in the Senate under Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Now, with Senate Democrats in the Majority, we have the opportunity to act on this overwhelmingly popular, lifesaving legislation to protect American communities.”
“The overwhelming majority of Americans support ensuring background checks on all gun sales. And for good reason; the loopholes in the current system make it too easy for guns to end up in the hands of those prohibited by law from buying them. It is far past time that Congress answers the call to better protect our communities from senseless gun violence by passing the Background Check Expansion Act,” said Durbin.
“No check, no gun buy, should be the rule. Connecticut has already seen background checks save lives in our state, but guns don’t respect state borders. A powerful political movement has been mobilized – reflecting more than 90 percent of Americans who support expanding federal background checks. Congress has the moral imperative to enact sensible reforms like universal background checks to prevent more tragedies. We have no time to waste. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Biden Administration to swiftly pass such commonsense gun violence prevention measures. We must put an end to the American epidemic of gun violence,” said Blumenthal.
“In the state of Nevada, we’ve closed the loophole that lets private sellers skip background checks before they hand over a gun. But we need to make sure that loophole is closed across the country,” said Cortez Masto. “Criminals should not have easy access to guns, but for far too long that’s been the norm. That is why I’m proud to rejoin Senator Murphy in introducing this bill to close loopholes that allow the purchase or transfer of guns without a background check. We can take action to save lives in the future by passing this bill in the Senate today.”
“The last two years have been a turning point in our longstanding fight to help prevent gun violence and today we take another leap forward in helping to save lives. Joined by Democrats and Republicans, today we introduce the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 to help keep guns out of the hands of those who may be a danger to themselves or others,” said Thompson, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “Time and time again, we have seen that the American people want universal background checks, in fact public polling shows that the majority of people, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, support this. We began our work to combat the scourge of gun violence eight years ago after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and will not stop until we deliver for the American people.”
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.
In addition to Murphy, Schumer, Durbin, Blumenthal, and Cortez Masto, U.S. Senators 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.), Patrick Leahy (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.), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) co-sponsored the bill.
Full text of the bill can be found here.