WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del,) joined Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and 27 senators in introducing the Background Check Expansion Act to expand federal background checks to the sale or transfer of all firearms by private sellers, with certain reasonable exceptions.
Under current law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm. Research indicates that as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check even though 90% of Americans support comprehensive background checks.
“It is clear that we have an epidemic of gun violence plaguing our country and our communities, and we in Congress need to take action to address it,” Senator Carper said. “Just about everyone I’ve spoken with in Delaware, including the overwhelming majority of gun owners, believes that keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals is the right thing to do. Strengthening background checks is a commonsense way to do that.”
The Background Check Expansion Act will require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms from one private party (i.e. a person who is not federally licensed) to another. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home. Private sellers would need to visit a licensed firearms dealer to run the necessary background check before any gun sale is finalized. Exceptions to the Background Check Expansion Act include transfers between law enforcement officers, temporarily loaning firearms for hunting and sporting events, providing firearms as gifts to immediate family members, transferring a firearm as part of an inheritance, or temporarily transferring a firearm for immediate self-defense.
In addition to Senators Carper and Murphy, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) cosponsored the legislation.