April 25, 2016 – A recent survey of Minnesota voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, found that 86 percent of Minnesota voters – including 77 percent of Republican voters – support closing the loopholes in current law that allow dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers buy guns without a background check.
Under current federal law, individuals must pass a criminal background check before they can buy a gun from a licensed firearm dealer. But an untold number of guns are sold without background checks at gun shows and online.
The new research comes as a proposal to close those loopholes in state law, SF 2493, which is sponsored by Senator Ron Latz, is being heard tomorrow in the Judiciary Committee.
A memo on the new research can be found here.
“This new research shows that Minnesotans want their leaders to close the loopholes in Minnesota law that makes it easy for dangerous people to buys guns without a background check. It is not a controversial idea – just a commonsense one,” said Peter Ambler, Founder, 501(c)(4) of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “As leaders in the Minnesota State Legislature debate how to make their communities safer, we hope they will keep in mind the strong, broad, and bipartisan support among their constituents for this responsible proposal. Commonsense steps that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people may not stop every tragedy, but they will stop many – and Minnesotans agree that’s absolutely worth it.”
In February, Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly’s visited Minnesota to launch the new Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense. The coalition, which includes leaders from across sectors and parties, is working to advance common sense legislation like SF 2493 that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms. Read more about the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense here.
OVERVIEW OF BACKGROUND CHECKS & CURRENT MINNESOTA LAW
Federal Law Requires Criminal Background Checks at Licensed Firearms Dealers, Not Online and at Gun Shows. In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, making background checks a requirement for federally licensed gun dealers and setting up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system of databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals, known as prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers and some dangerously mentally ill people are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Under the Brady Act, when a person attempts to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, the dealer runs a check through the NICS system to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. If information in NICS indicates that a person is prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm, the dealer must deny the sale.
Minnesota Law Doesn’t Require Unlicensed Sellers to Conduct A Background Check When Transferring the Gun to Another Person. Under current law in Minnesota, individuals must pass a background check before they can buy at a federally licensed firearm dealer. But Minnesota does not require background checks for private sales – which include sales conducted online and at gun shows.
Background Checks Are Quick and Effective – They’ve Blocked Over Two Million Potential Sales to Prohibited Purchasers. 91 percent of background checks are completed instantaneously and since the NICS system has been in place, over 196 million background checks have been conducted, and over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied.
States with Background Checks Have Seen Public Safety Gains, Including Fewer Women and Law Enforcement Murdered with Guns. In the seventeen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and 48% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. When Missouri repealed its background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 25 percent in the state.
SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND CHECKS BILL IN MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE
The proposal introduced earlier this month by Senator Ron Latz and Representative Dan Schoen closes three critical loopholes in current Minnesota law that allow guns to be purchased without a criminal background check, including 1) at gun shows 2) through online sales and 3) from unlicensed individual sellers. It would require that a criminal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) be completed at a federally licensed firearms dealer for all sales by unlicensed sellers. The bill includes reasonable exemptions for immediate family members, law enforcement and certain temporary transfers. There are over 1,400 federal firearms dealers in Minnesota and 98.9 percent of Minnesotans live within 10 miles a dealer.