Durbin, Senators Introduce “No Check, No Sale" Bill to Close Loophole Allowing Gun Sales Without a Completed Background Check

Background Check Completion Act would close loophole that allows gun sales to individuals not legally allowed to have firearms if background check is not completed after 72 hours

WASHINGTON—Today, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to introduce legislation that would close a loophole in current law 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. 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, closing the loophole that has allowed thousands of gun sales to prohibited buyers, including the sale of the firearm used by Dylann Roof in his deadly attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in June.


Most Americans assume that this is already the law, but it’s not,” said Durbin. “This loophole allows gun sales to proceed if the background check is still pending or inconclusive after three days. A completed background check would have stopped Dylann Roof from buying the gun he used to take those nine lives in Charleston. Completed background checks would save lives every day in our cities and across every state in our country. More than 90% of Americans agree that we must keep guns out of the hands of dangerous and unstable people. Closing the loopholes in our background check system is one of the most important ways we can do that.”


“These Senators have proposed meaningful legislation that would close the loophole in our law that allows dangerous people to arm themselves despite an incomplete background check,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “What we saw this summer in Charleston is just one example of the more than 15,000 gun sales to dangerous people in the past five years that have gone through without a completed background check.  It’s time for Congress to re-write the rules and put public safety ahead of gun lobby interests.”


“For too long, our legislators have prioritized gun industry profits over the safety of our families,” said Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “This bill is an important signal that we value the lives of our loved ones far too much to allow guns to be transferred without a complete background check.”


Several gun retailers, including Walmart, the nation’s largest, have voluntarily chosen to only proceed with gun sales after a background check is completed. In July, Durbin, Blumenthal, and Murphy, with ten of their Senate colleagues, wrote to three companies that currently allow default sales imploring them to cease the practice that has potentially deadly consequences. To date, no company has responded to the senators’ requests.


Joining Durbin, Blumenthal, Murphy, Kaine, Warren, Boxer, and Menedez as co-sponsors of the legislation are Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).