October 25, 2017

Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Expand Background Checks and Reduce Gun Violence

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today joined 27 of his Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that would expand federal background checks to the sale or transfer of all firearms by private sellers, with certain reasonable exceptions.

It’s increasingly clear that gun violence tragedies in this country demand more than thoughts and prayers from Congress,” Wyden said. “The overwhelming majority of Americans support common-sense background checks, and this legislation is a critical step towards implementing life-saving measures to ensure that firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands.”

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 percent of Americans support comprehensive background checks.  Yet under current law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm.

The Background Check Expansion Act would 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 the wake of the deadly Las Vegas shooting, Wyden cosponsored three additional bills to expand background checks, close dangerous loopholes for acquiring automatic weapons, and to enhance the accountability of the firearm industry. Wyden has also been a strong advocate for federal gun violence prevention research programs -- funding that is severely threatened under the Trump Administration’s current budget proposal.

Additional cosponsors include U.S. Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Tom Carper, D-Del., 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.

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