Press Release

Giffords Applauds Senator Van Hollen, Congresswoman Esty for Introducing Handgun Purchaser Licensing Legislation

April 12, 2018 —  Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, commended Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for introducing the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act. The act would incentivize states, local governments and Indian tribes to enact laws requiring individuals to obtain a license before purchasing a handgun.

“Permit to purchase systems are proven to save lives. The 10 states that have implemented these systems know that, and this legislation will be critical in ensuring that more states are able to as well,” said Robin Lloyd, Director of Government Affairs at Giffords. “We’re grateful to Senator Van Hollen and Congresswoman Esty for introducing this bill and urge Congress to pass it quickly. We have no time to waste.”

This legislation requires individuals wishing to purchase a handgun to:

  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Apply through a law enforcement agency;
  • Provide fingerprints and photographs to law enforcement;
  • Undergo a background check before receiving the purchase permit.

The law must incorporate the federal prohibitions on firearm purchase and possession.

Licensing laws are proven to help make communities safer by reducing firearm homicides and keeping guns out of the hands of prohibited individuals. When Missouri repealed its permit to purchase system in 2007, gun homicides increased by 25%. Conversely, after Connecticut’s implementation of a permit to purchase law, gun homicides decreased 40 percent between 1996 and 2005.

In states which have had effective handgun purchaser licensing laws for decades like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, the vast majority of crime guns originate in other states, indicating that gun traffickers seek guns elsewhere.


Giffords is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Giffords inspires the courage of people from all walks of life to make America safer.