March 3, 2021

Reed & Whitehouse Reintroduce Background Check Expansion Act to Reduce Gun Violence

RI Senators join Murphy and colleagues on bill to expand federal background checks to all gun sales

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have joined Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and 41 Senate Democrats to reintroduce the Background Check Expansion Act, which would expand federal background checks to all gun sales. Under current federal law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm. This loophole gives people who are barred from purchasing or possessing firearms—because of felony or domestic violence convictions, or certain domestic violence protective orders—a way to buy guns. Research indicates that as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check.

“Gun violence in America remains a serious public health crisis that has taken too many innocent lives and this bill would help prevent shootings by keeping guns out of the hands of people who couldn’t pass a simple, commonsense background check,” said Senator Reed. “There should be a basic background check on every gun sale, no matter where it happens. We have the technology and tools. Now it is time to bring this bill to the floor to a vote and see who will stand with communities and law enforcement and who will side with unlicensed gun dealers and the NRA.”

“We know that background checks save lives,” said Senator Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “No background check, no gun purchase. It should be that simple in every state no matter the circumstances of the sale.”

The Background Checks Expansion Act will require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home. 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. Ninety-seven percent of Americans support comprehensive background checks.

U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921