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Baldwin Supports “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, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) helped introduce legislation in the Senate 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. Companion legislation is expected to pass in the House of Representatives this week.

“There is overwhelming support in Wisconsin and across the country for comprehensive, completed background checks on gun sales,” said Senator Baldwin. “This commonsense legislation closes a loophole and will prevent the easy access of weapons for those that shouldn't have them. We have a moral responsibility in Congress to confront gun violence like the public health crisis that it is and this legislation will help save lives.”

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 legislation is led by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Dick Durbin (D-IL). The Background Check Completion Act is also co-sponsored by Senators 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 Duckworth (D-IL), 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.

“The Charleston Mother Emanuel Church shooting showed us just how deadly this loophole can be, and now we’ve learned just how wide it can get, thanks to skyrocketing gun sales spurred on by NRA fear mongering,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We thank Senator Blumenthal and his colleagues for taking action, and honoring the victims and survivors of gun violence with more than thoughts and prayers.”

“After a year of unprecedented gun sales, it has never been more critical to strengthen the Brady Background Check System,” said Brady President Kris Brown. “The American people support ensuring that every individual undergoes a background check before purchasing a gun, and the Charleston Loophole continues to allow prohibited purchasers to obtain firearms in alarming numbers. The Brady Background Check system is the bedrock of our nation’s gun violence prevention laws, and we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal for making that foundation even stronger.”

“Background checks are the bedrock of effective gun policy,” said Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Had this loophole been eliminated prior to 2015 nine parishioners of Mother Emmanuel AME Church might still be alive today. It is essential that we give the FBI adequate time to complete these checks, the difference could mean life or death.  Those who want to keep the status quo are in effect saying we don't care about enforcing the nation's gun law and that is just unacceptable. Thank you Senator Blumenthal for introducing this vital piece of legislation. It is well past time to close the Charleston Loophole!”

“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 2,989 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.”