In the states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are lower rates of gun violence across a variety of groups: 47 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death in the line of duty with guns that are not their own, and 48 percent less gun trafficking in their cities. The system works: since 1998, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has blocked more than 2.5 million attempted purchases by dangerous people who are prohibited from buying guns. But in order to make all Americans safer, federal law should require background checks for all gun sales.

States must also submit all missing mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Everytown has documented states’ failures to submit hundreds of thousands of missing mental health records to the background check system, and identified steps they can take to close these gaps.

Background Checks

background checks
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Fatal Gaps

by Mayors Against Illegal Guns

At the time Mayors Against Illegal Guns published its 2011 Fatal Gaps report, millions of mental health records were missing from the background checks system, allowing prohibited purchasers to pass background checks and buy guns. In the years since, some states have taken strides to fill this gap, but hundreds of thousands of records are still missing.

Gun Violence and Background Checks in Minnesota

This fact sheet brings together the findings of Everytown for Gun Safety’s original investigations and analyses of relevant law enforcement and public health data to illuminate gun violence and crime trends of the illegal gun market in Minnesota.

Gun Violence and Background Checks in Oregon

This fact sheet brings together the findings of Everytown’s original investigations and analyses of relevant law enforcement and public health data to illuminate trends in gun violence and crime in Oregon.

Also featured in:  Gun Violence Trends  

Closing the Gaps

In the November 2011 report Fatal Gaps, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) documented that 23 states and the District of Columbia had each submitted fewer than 100 records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system. Fatal Gaps called for stronger state reporting laws and for federal funding to states to build needed reporting infrastructure. This update finds that many states and the federal government have adopted these recommendations, and the background check system has dramatically improved.

Gun Violence and Background Checks in New Mexico

Loopholes in the law make it easy for dangerous people in New Mexico to get guns sold by unlicensed sellers, contributing to preventable violence — from mass shootings to deadly domestic abuse to suicides to shootings of law enforcement officers.