WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed joined U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in introducing the Background Check Completion Act, legislation that would close a current loophole allowing gun sales to proceed if a background check is not completed after 72 hours, 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 Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.
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, 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.
“No check, no sale must be the rule. When Dylann Roof walked into a gun store two years ago, he shouldn’t have been able to walk out with a weapon. But a loophole in current law allowed Dylann Roof – and thousands of others like him every year – to access weapons they are already legally ineligible to buy. Waiting for a background check, even if longer than 72 hours, is a minor inconvenience far outweighed by the benefit of keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Senator Blumenthal.
“If you can’t pass a background check, you shouldn’t be able to walk out of a store with a gun. As we saw in Charleston, this loophole allows dangerous people to get their hands on deadly weapons – it has literally cost innocent lives. This is a commonsense bill to give law enforcement the time it needs before a gun leaves the store,” said Senator Murphy.
“We should recognize by now how crucial it is to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals. One step we can take is ensuring firearm buyers undergo comprehensive background checks,” said Senator Reed. “This legislation is another important step in closing this dangerous loophole and preventing individuals who haven’t passed background checks from being able to access firearms.”
“Current law allows gun sales to proceed after 72 hours—even if background checks aren’t approved. This is dangerous loophole that could allow criminals and those with mental illness to complete their purchase of firearms even though it would be unlawful for them to possess them,” said Senator Feinstein. “The shooter in Charleston who killed nine parishioners of Emmanuel AME Church would have failed his background check if the law had allowed it to be completed. Our commonsense proposal will ensure all background checks are completed before sales can move forward.”
The Background Check Completion Act is co-sponsored by: U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Patty Murray (D-WA).