Stay Informed

Stay Informed

Universal Background Checks

Universal Background Checks

“If we can save up about $200 real quick…we can go to the next gun show and find a private dealer and buy ourselves some bad-ass AB-10 machine pistols.”

– Columbine killer Eric Harris, who was 17 years old at the time and prohibited under federal law from purchasing a firearm. Harris and fellow shooter Dylan Klebold obtained the firearms they used to commit mass murder through private sales at Colorado gun shows.

To date, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has prevented more than two million convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers from buying guns. The law also has a deterrent effect—prohibited purchasers are less likely to try to buy guns when they know comprehensive background check requirements are in place.

Unfortunately, current federal law requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, which account for just 60% of all gun sales in the United States. A loophole in the law allows individuals not “engaged in the business”€ of selling firearms to sell guns without a license—and without processing any paperwork. That means that two out of every five guns sold in the United States change hands without a background check.

Though sometimes referred to as the “Gun Show Loophole,”€ the “€œprivate sales”€ described above include firearms sold at gun shows, through classified newspaper ads, the Internet, and between individuals virtually anywhere.

Unfortunately, a majority of states have yet to take any action to regulate the private sale of firearms. In order to guarantee that criminals, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill and others are denied unchecked access to guns, the U.S. Congress should enact a federal law requiring universal background checks on all sales of firearms, including private sales.

Sign a petition calling for universal background check legislation.


Ed Fund Report: America’s Gun Shows: Open Markets for Criminals

Ed Fund Report: Debunking a Myth: The Gun Lobby’s Claim that Less than 1% of Crime Guns Come from Gun Shows

Ed Fund Report: Extending Criminals Background Checks to All Gun Sales

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