WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined 27 senators, including U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), on Wednesday in introducing the Background Check Expansion Act to 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% of Americans support comprehensive background checks.
“It has been less than a month since our nation’s collective conscience was once again shocked by one of the worst mass shootings in American history,” said Menendez. “There is no greater sorrow – no deeper pain – than the enormous grief that the families of the victims are suffering, and we owe it to them to get serious about the gun violence epidemic in this country. We need more than vigils and flowers, we need commonsense proposals. Once such proposal, strengthening background checks, is a position upon which we can all agree. I sincerely hope my Republican colleagues find the will and resolve to do what’s right this time around by joining us in this effort.”
“What the American people are asking for, and what this bill proposes, isn’t radical or extraordinary, it’s common sense. Requiring thorough background checks and closing the loopholes that let criminals buy guns will save lives,” said Sen. Booker. “Talk and prayers are not enough—it’s time for decisive, common sense federal action to address the epidemic of gun violence,”
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 Menendez, Durbin, Blumenthal, and Cortez Masto, U.S. Senators 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.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), 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.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) cosponsored the legislation.
Full text of the bill is here.
October 27, 2020