Senate Democrats Introduce Bill To Close Charleston Loophole

Senate Democrats are introducing a bill that would close a 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 2015 attack at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.

“Firearm buyers should be able to clear a background check that flags purchasers whose serious criminal records disqualify them,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore), who also is co-sponsoring legislation that would expand federal background checks to all gun sales. “It’s long past time Congress closes this glaring loophole to save lives and protect communities from dangerous criminals.”

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.

“The Charleston Mother Emanuel Church showed us just how deadly this loophole can be, and now we’ve learned just how wide it can get, thanks to skyrocketing gun sales spurred on by NRA fear mongering,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

“We thank Senator Blumenthal and his colleagues for taking action, and honoring the victims and survivors of gun violence with more than thoughts and prayers.”

“Closing all loopholes in the federal background check process is critical to keeping our communities safe. Everyone needs to fully complete a background check before they can purchase a firearm. It’s as simple as that,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “After eight long years, we are grateful to finally see momentum on this common-sense gun reform.”


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