Durbin, Duckworth, Senators Introduce "No Check, No Sale" Bill to Close the Charleston Loophole

More than ten prohibited people a day are sold guns by dealers who do not wait for completed background check

WASHINGTON –  Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and 23 of their Senate colleagues to introduce legislation to close a current loophole that allows 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 attack at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that background checks should be required for all gun sales,” Durbin said. “We have seen the tragic consequences that can result when background checks are not completed and guns end up in the hands of prohibited purchasers.  It is long past time to fix this loophole, and I’m proud to support this bill to do so.”

“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. “In the wake of so many tragedies, it’s past time Congress acts to close this loophole and help keep weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting this smart, common-sense legislation and hope we can send it to President Biden’s desk soon.”

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 full text of the legislation is available here.

The Background Check Completion Act is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

The legislation has been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Brady, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Sandy Hook Promise and Newtown Action Alliance. 

“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.”

“No one should be able to purchase deadly weapons without a completed background check,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance. “We need Congress to act to keep guns away from dangerous individuals by closing all loopholes in our background check system. Incidents of armed intimidation are rising in our communities and domestic terrorists are the greatest threat to our nation. According to the FBI, the Charleston loophole allowed 2989 individuals to purchase guns without completed background checks in 2019. Last year, there were 21 million NICS background checks for gun sales– more than any other year. It is certain that this loophole allowed thousands of other dangerous prohibited purchasers to acquire weapons.”