Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and 28 of her Senate colleagues, including U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), introduced 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. Senator Cortez Masto joined Senators Murphy, Durbin, and Blumenthal, as well as gun violence survivors and advocates, at a press conference this afternoon to unveil the bill. You can watch the press conference here.
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.
“Gun violence found over 22,000 attendees of a concert on the Las Vegas Strip. It found the State of Nevada, and I am devastated to say it found me,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I am proud to support Senator Murphy’s bill to close the loophole under current federal law that allows the purchase of guns from online retailers, gun shows, or private dealers without a background check. As a gun owner, I am keenly aware of the serious responsibility of owning firearms. We must work to keep guns out of the hands of the seriously mentally ill, people with a history of violence, criminals, and terrorists. I call on Senate Republicans to work with Senator Murphy and I to stop the violence that has become too common in big cities and small towns across America. Let’s work together to pass common sense gun safety measures like background checks before another community is forced to hold the record for the most dead at the hands of a terrorist.”
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 Senators Cortez Masto, Murphy, Durbin, and Blumenthal, 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-Pa.), 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.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) also cosponsored the legislation.
The full text of the bill can be found here.