Background Checks on All Gun Sales
What is the problem?
Background checks are the foundation of any comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy. Current federal law requires that background checks be conducted whenever a person attempts to buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer. This is to ensure that the buyer is not legally prohibited from having the gun.
While federal law requires background checks for all gun sales by licensed gun dealers, it does not require background checks for guns sold by unlicensed sellers, like non-dealers who sell guns online or at gun shows. This loophole enables people with felony convictions, domestic abuse restraining orders, and other people with prohibiting histories to buy guns with no questions asked. The loophole should be closed to require background checks on all gun sales—not just on the sale of firearms from licensed gun dealers.
Myth & Fact
Requiring background checks on all gun sales would be burdensome.
The most common federal background check legislation would simply require that unlicensed sellers meet their buyers at a gun dealer. The gun dealer will then run a background check in exactly the same way as for sales directly from the dealer’s store. 99 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a gun dealer—so it’s easy and convenient to get the background check done. There are nearly 59,000 unique gun dealers across the country, four times as many as there are McDonald’s and nearly twice as many as U.S. post offices. Gun owners are already accustomed to this process, because they do it every time they buy a gun from a dealer.
Unchecked: An Investigation of the Online Firearm Marketplace
The online firearm marketplace has emerged as a growing market for anonymous gun purchases through websites such as Armslist.
Undeniable: How Long-Standing Loopholes in the Background Check System Have Been Exacerbated by COVID-19
Loopholes must be addressed to ensure that guns are not sold without a completed background check.
Update Background Check Laws
Updating federal and state laws to require background checks on all gun sales is a common-sense way to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Background Checks on All Gun Sales
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School leaders and policymakers must support and implement strong gun safety laws and school-based interventions.Fact Sheet
Five Things to Know About Crime Guns, Gun Trafficking, and Background Checks
The current patchwork of state laws makes it easy for individuals to traffic firearms from states with weaker gun laws.Report
The Danger of No-Questions-Asked Gun Sales Between Strangers
These stories are examples of tragedies that could have been prevented if a background check was required when the shooter bought their gun.Fact Sheet
A Deadly Year in Cities — And How Policymakers Can Respond
While the long term effects of COVID-19 still aren’t fully clear, it is evident that cities have experienced historic levels of violence.Fact Sheet
Methodological Note: A More Complete Picture
Read the Report A More Complete Picture: The Contours of Gun Injury in the United States Report…Methodological Note
A More Complete Picture: The Contours of Gun Injury in the United States
Nonfatal gunshot wounds account for an enormous portion of the gun violence epidemic in America.Report
Firearm Suicide By Congressional District
There are 52 firearm suicides on average per congressional district each year, yet there is district-level variation across the country.Report
ATF & the Rising Threat of Ghost Guns
Ghost guns are emerging as a weapon of choice for criminals, gun traffickers, extremists, and others banned from legally buying firearms.Fact Sheet