JUNE 22, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, today applauded Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s signature of a bill that strengthens the state’s gun background check laws by closing a dangerous loophole that allows gun sales to proceed before the criminal background check is complete.
According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in Delaware from 2013 to 2015, 40 individuals successfully bought guns due to this loophole and were later determined to be prohibited under federal law from possessing a gun. In each case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had to deploy officers to retrieve the weapons.
This legislation, HB 325, comes on the heels of Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly’s visit to Wilmington in March and launch of the new bipartisan Delaware Coalition for Common Sense.
“This is a real victory for responsibility and safer communities. Leaders in the legislature heard the call for action by Delaware’s law enforcement and public safety officials, and came together to pass a law that helps strengthen Delaware’s background check system and keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “We are grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), Rep. Edward Osienski (D-Newark), and Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark), for standing up for common sense and for leading the fight to close this gap in Delaware law. We are grateful to Governor Markell for signing this commonsense proposal into law and ensuring that Delaware continues to lead the way in reducing gun violence. This smart law will save lives – and that’s worth it.”
ABOUT THIS BACKGROUND CHECK LOOPHOLE FOR GUN SALES
While 91% of background checks are processed instantly through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 9% require further investigation before determining if the firearm transfer in question would violate federal or state law. But due to a gun lobby-backed amendment to the Brady background checks bill of 1993, FBI and ATF agents are only allowed three business days to investigate the potential purchaser. Licensed firearms dealers may proceed with a firearm transaction if a requested background check has not been processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) within three business days.
This loophole has allowed firearm transactions that otherwise would be denied to proceed, resulting in potentially dangerous individuals purchasing guns from lawful sellers on a technicality. According to the FBI, from 2010-2014, gun dealers completed 15,729 gun sales to ineligible people because a final determination could not be made within the three-day window.
Sales occurring through default proceeds are eight times more likely than regular background checks to involve a purchaser who is prohibited under federal law from legally buying a gun. Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed nine people at a Charleston church, was prohibited under federal law from purchasing his gun due to a disqualifying drug record that should have made it illegal for him to buy a firearm. Because this determination was not made until after three days, the sale was able to proceed. Disqualifying domestic violence records tend to fall through the cracks as well; In 2003, 34% of cases in which the ATF retrieved a gun after being obtained through a default proceed sale involved a purchaser with a domestic violence conviction or restraining order.