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Senators Introduce Background Check Expansion Act To Reduce Gun Violence

Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Commentary: WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 26, 2017) - U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are original cosponsors of 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. The bill was introduced yesterday by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

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 percent of Americans support comprehensive background checks.

"The American people have had enough, and they overwhelmingly want Congress to take on the special interests and act to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Requiring background checks for most sales is one common-sense step we should take immediately to help ensure weapons don’t fall into the hands of people who mean themselves or others harm,” said Udall. “I support the rights of law-abiding New Mexicans who want to own guns for hunting, self-protection or recreation. And I believe we can protect their constitutional rights while tackling the tragic problem of gun violence.”

“If a person can’t pass a background check, they shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. The vast majority of Americans, including gun owners like myself, support expanding our background check system. The only place this idea is controversial is in Congress,” said Heinrich. “It’s time for those members of Congress who oppose reforms to finally step up and tell us what they are going to do to protect the public. Inaction is not an option. New Mexicans can count on me to continue fighting for common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence in our communities, while still respecting our constitutional rights.”

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.

The full text of the bill is here.