Senate Democrats: We Will Fight Tooth and Nail to Change the Politics on Gun Safety and Pass Laws to Keep the Country Safe

Senate Democrats recently unveiled a set of principles to prevent gun violence, and launched a major effort to ramp up public pressure on Congress to pass new laws to stop gun violence.

The Senators announced they will spend the coming weeks and months publicly urging the American people to push their Congressional representatives to back these principles, in hopes of forcing a vote on legislation in Congress in the coming months.

The principles Democrats have proposed would fix background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and dangerous people, all while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Specifically, the legislative principles seek to:

Close Background Check Loopholes: Senate Democrats called for ending the loopholes that allow people to purchase guns without having first passed a background check.

  • Under current law, guns can be sold over the internet and at gun shows without any background checks at all.
  • Millions of guns are sold through these loopholes every year, and according to one study, nearly 70 percent of prison inmates obtained the guns used in crimes through transactions that did not require a background check.  [CAP, 2/15]
  • Senate Democrats’ plan would close those loopholes by requiring a background check before a gun can be sold online or at gun shows.

Make Background Checks Better: Even for gun sales that are subject to a background check, there are still too many holes in the background check database. Senate Democrats called for making sure that all domestic abusers are prohibited from purchasing guns, that states submit all prohibitive records to the federal database, and that people are not allowed to buy guns without a completed background check.

  • Today, convicted domestic abusers are not submitted to the NICS system unless they are married to or living with their victims; stalkers and other abusers can still legally purchase a gun to harm a dating partner. In 2008, nearly half of all domestic violence murders were committed by a dating partner. [CAP, 6/14]
  • Under current law, stores are allowed to sell a gun after 3 days even if the buyer’s background check isn’t completed, regardless if more time would have uncovered the fact that the purchaser was legally prohibited from buying the gun. This is what allowed the Charleston shooter to purchase a weapon even though a completed background check would have uncovered that his criminal record should have prohibited him from buying. [New York Times, 7/10/15]
  • Senate Democrats’ plan would tighten up the background check system by eliminating these gaps, ensuring that when a background check is done, it will effectively uncover dangerous individuals that should not get weapons.

Shut Down the Illegal Pipeline of Guns: Senate Democrats called for making “straw purchasing” — in which one person buys a gun for someone else who is not legally allowed to have one — and gun trafficking federal crimes to give law enforcement the tools it needs to stop the flood of illegal weapons across state lines.

  • Today, straw purchasing and gun trafficking are not federal crimes, violators are prosecuted under arcane laws such as “lying on the federal form.”
  • In 2009, just 10 states supplied 49% of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes. Together, these states accounted for nearly 21,000 recovered crime guns. [Everytown, 9/12/10]
  • Nine of 10 crime guns are wielded by someone other than the original purchaser, and 1 in 3 have crossed state lines. [Third Way, 3/19/13]
  • Senate Democrats proposed clearly defining the crimes of straw purchasing and gun trafficking – giving law enforcement the tools they need to punish violent criminals and deter these dangerous practices.

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