Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Background Check Expansion Act To Reduce Gun Violence

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today joined U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and 26 of their Senate colleagues to announce the introduction of the Background Check Expansion Act, which will 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.

Research indicates that as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check even though 94% of Americans support comprehensive background checks.

Since the October 1 massacre in Las Vegas, more than 2,500 Americans have been shot, at least 772 of them fatally,” said Durbin. “More than 3,000 people have been shot in Chicago so far this year—more than 500 fatally. 94% of Americans support requiring background checks on all gun sales—including 93% of gun owners. If you follow politics, you know that those numbers are absolutely overwhelming. Is Congress listening?”  

“It’s just common sense that if you can’t pass a background check you shouldn’t be able to purchase a firearm—and the vast majority of Americans know it,” said Duckworth. “How many lives must be taken before Congress finally says, ‘enough is enough?’ I don’t want my daughter to have to grow up in a country that won’t protect her from needless and preventable violence. We must do everything we can to protect the American people and that includes passing The Background Check Expansion Act.” 

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 Durbin and Duckworth, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT.), Bob Casey (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) cosponsored Murphy’s legislation.

Full text of the bill is here.